It’s 10pm and I’m writing this. The kids are in bed and the other half is tucked away in the office playing something or other on the computer. I’m alone, just me and my laptop.
Over the years there have been many a blog post written about mums staying up late for alone time. I say mums staying up late, because dads don’t seem to do it, but correct me if I’m wrong. Also, I don’t mean staying up late to get things done that you were unable to do during the day. I mean staying up late every night to do the things you WANT to do.
The reason mums stay up late is that they crave alone time.
Bella is a single mum to two kids and although she’s exhausted in the morning and wants a lie-in, she still stays up late every night. Sometimes until 1am. Why? Because her toddler wakes at 6am and talks nonstop all day until she is in bed again at 6pm. Once the older kid is down to sleep at 7:30pm, Bella says she needs the evening to recharge and be with herself. In silence.
The time between the kids or the other half going to bed and our own bedtime seems to be a golden time for a lot of us. When no one is around to demand our attention, or continuously grab us. It’s when we get to do our own thing and feel like ourselves again, to just be.
I get it, the time between the kids going to sleep and me going to bed is blissful. Not because I don’t like my kids (or my husband) I do, a lot. I love them all so much I could squeeze them too tight and eat them up.
BUT I’m still in bed and asleep by 10:30 if not before. Otherwise, I’m tired in the morning at 5:45am when the whole house gets up. And that’s why the kids have a strict bedtime. At 7:30pm I pack my husband off into the office and then I can do what I want to do. That might be writing, reading, learning something or watching Netflix. Either way, I get the alone time thing, I need my alone time. The thing I don’t understand is choosing alone time over sleep.
Being tired and building up sleep debt is not good for us or anyone around us.
I can hear the groaning and saying yes, yes, I know the health benefits are terrible and blah blah blah. But there’s more to it than that. Not getting enough sleep means our ability to function is reduced.
Workplace well-being and health and safety are a legal requirement, but what about our homes where we work 24/7 looking after our kids? Accidents can happen when we’re tired, but at home there’s no one else around to help if something goes wrong. Albeit it’s not like we’re operating heavy machinery, although it can sometimes feel like this trying to get the kids dressed in a reasonable time. But, I drop things and knock things over a lot when I’m tired. Thankfully never a hot cuppa and nothing near the kids.
I’m also glad we walk to school and have our food shop delivered. According to research, tired drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident causing fatal injury to themselves or the other occupants in the car, than those in accidents caused by non-tired drivers.
Then there are all the health-related issues.
Not getting enough quality sleep reduces our body’s ability to fight off all the bugs going around.
This includes the ones our kids bring home from school or nursery. I used to get tonsillitis a lot when my youngest was little. Probably because the broken nights tending to him, plus working full time and staying up late meant getting a lot less sleep than I needed. Not sleeping makes us run down and our immunity lowers when we are.
It’s more difficult to shift the old muffin top on less sleep.
It’s thought that the levels of leptin that make us feel full are reduced when we’re tired. This is made worse by the levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone that makes us feel hungry, as they increase. Add that double whammy to the fact that we’re also less able to make good decisions when we’re tired and our will power reduces. I now understand why that triple chocolate freak shake thingy with ice cream on the side looks so good, but in reality it just makes me feel sick.
There’s a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If we don’t get enough deep sleep, our bodies change how they process glucose and use it for energy. I say this as I step away from the triple chocolate freak shake thingy with ice cream on the side.
Our sex drives decrease.
But I’m going to skip over this because even when I’m not tired, I don’t feel like having sex.
There’s a higher risk of developing heart disease.
Sleep deprivation is associated with an increase in blood pressure, increased heart rate, and chemicals that are linked with inflammation. All this puts extra strain on our hearts. To allow our hearts to do what they need to effortlessly, we need to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. This is much easier said than done with kids but as annoying as the old saying ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ is, it has a point. I’m sure like me, you can’t sleep when your baby sleeps, there’s too much to do during the day. This is why I’m in bed by 10:30 to try and get a decent amount of sleep.
It’s time we started to find new ways to get alone time so we can sleep as well.
IT’S TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR SLEEP. I know, it’s difficult. Trying to get out of the house on my own or pulling myself away from what I’m doing at 10pm is sometimes painful. But while our kids are still waking in the night isn’t it even more important to go to bed at a reasonable hour so we can at least try and get in the amount of sleep we need?
It may take a while, but we will start to feel better having had more sleep and then our days will generally feel less of a slog. I’ve been on both sides and it feels a lot better replacing late night alone time with sleep.
It’s not for long anyway. Before we know it, the kids will have moved out and we can have all the alone time we want. Possibly so much alone time we’ll crave the days when they didn’t leave us alone all day.