My child easily sleeps through the night. She's done it for months now. It's so kind of her to afford me the hours I need to sleep...except I'm not using them at all for sleep. Right now, it's killing me.
I'm a night owl by nature through and through— always have been, and probably always will be. The nighttime hours are when I'm most productive— even on days where I'm dead tired and almost falling asleep at the dinner table, I'll somehow get my second wind once 10 p.m. rolls around. I'm great at staying up late and waking up early for several days at a time until Boom— suddenly those missed Zs catch up and I'll be toast. I end up feeling sluggish, sick and sad.
When you're a parent, you have three options: Take care of your family, take care of your home, and take care of yourself. The catch is that you can only pick two of them. It's totally accidental, but for me, the last option goes on the back burner. As a result, sleep is the first thing thrown out when my days are so demanding. I'm probably not alone in this.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that one in three adults don't get enough sleep every night. The CDC suggests we get an average of seven hours per night for optimal health. That's my perfect amount, but I rarely take the time to regularly get all of them. It happens maybe once or twice per week. It's a dangerous habit, though; a Harvard Medical School study recently found that you actually can't catch up on sleep, no matter how hard you try.
Most parents are all too familiar with the dangers of sleep deprivation. They say it peaks around three months postpartum; that parents might not sleep well for upwards of six years after their baby is born; and that a parent's sleep is never quite the same from that point on. Research suggests that sleep deprivation hits the mom harder than the dad. I fully believe that; learning to cope with the lack of sleep is, in my opinion, the hardest part of adjusting to life with a baby. I say this as a mom who's in the presence of a great sleeper.
Somehow, someway, moms and dads alike need to learn how to prioritize rest. For me, that means I need to slow down and focus on what's most important: my baby. I don't need to do all the things. It's not humanly possible anyway. My girl is still young, but I'm continuously surprised by how much she learns each day, and she is very impressionable. It won't be long before she notices Mommy is tired and, at times...irritable. I don't want to be that mom if I can help it— and usually, I can help it.
With that in mind, I'm kicking myself off of Team No Sleep. When I do get enough rest, it's no surprise my mood is better, my energy is higher, and I only need one cup of coffee (a single cup is more for taste than for survival). That's the best version of myself. Most importantly, however, it's the version of myself that I want my kid to see, too.