As I sat down to write this blog post at my parents’ house (hooray for free babysitting), I could barely keep my eyes open. Maybe if I just rest my eyes for a second… I thought. Half an hour later, I woke up. Whoops. But why am I so tired? Was it because LM was up throughout the night? Nope. Was it because he got up super early? No, that wasn’t it either.
It was because I stayed up way too late – completely of my own accord.
You see, I’m a night owl. Always have been, probably always will be. No matter how tired I am throughout the day, I just can’t get my body to relax and go to bed early. How late was I up? I’m embarrassed to admit it. But it was probably about 12:45 when I fell asleep. Yes, I am crazy.
What was I doing up that late? OK, let me give you a rundown of my evening. We usually have dinner around 6:30. Then I get LM ready for bed and bring him up about 8 pm. He’s usually asleep by 8:30. I know this is a little late in itself, but we can’t seem to get him upstairs any earlier if we want to have dinner as a family. After that I come back down and watch TV until 11. Then I go upstairs, get myself ready for bed, and check Facebook. Then I read a book on my Nook until I’m literally falling asleep while reading. This is probably why I can never remember what happened in any of the books I’ve read.
I can see you critiquing my nighttime routine. “Um, who needs to watch two plus hours of TV a night?” you ask. You’re probably right, but as a former entertainment writer, I can’t seem to give up the habit. I loves me some TV. As it is, I feel way out of the loop with what’s going on in the entertainment world, so keeping up on my favorite shows at least helps me retain some of my former life and my sense of self. And I don’t watch crap like The Bachelor or something – no offense to those that do, because maybe that’s your guilty pleasure outlet. But I like stimulating dramas like The Walking Dead, or comforting fare like Hart of Dixie. And yes, my inner teen still has a weakness for shows like Pretty Little Liars.
Next up: My FB addiction. I usually think, I’ll just scroll through really fast. Until I find a linked article that’s really long but I end up reading it and all the comments and then comment on it myself. So I never really know how long a quick jaunt through FB land will last. But I can’t give that up either – it’s my way to feel connected, and because I’m part of a lot of parenting groups, it gives me ideas for blogs.
Then the book reading. For a long time while LM was not sleeping through the night, I wasn’t reading anything. While I nursed him at night books would only put me to sleep. It was wonderful when I could start reading again, because I’ve always been a reader. Plus, it makes me feel smart and in-the-know in an intellectual way. So I have to work it in somehow.
There is just too much I want to do and not enough time to do it, so sleep is that thing that I’ve been sacrificing. But although I do like my child-free alone time at night, I think my problem goes deeper than that.
When I’ve tried trimming these before-bed rituals, what happens is that my mind starts spinning and won’t calm down. I make a million lists in my head of things I need to do. I think about something that made me angry and rehash it over and over. I write blog posts in my mind. Without my wind-down routine, my brain seems to whirl faster.
And so I don’t think the problem is television, or Facebook, or books. I really believe that my body is just somehow wired differently. I get a burst of mental activity at night. I need some way to calm it down, and I just can’t seem to make that happen any earlier than I already do.
This has been a life-long problem for me. I remember staying up late doing homework and then having a really hard time getting up for school. That’s why college was so great – I just didn’t schedule any morning classes. I’ve done a little research, and I think I might have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, in which my body’s internal clock is just set later than most people’s.
But what is a night-owl parent to do when their child wakes up at the normal time of 7 am? I’ve been surviving on six hours of sleep, but I’d really like more. Something has got to give. I think it will take a concerted effort to gradually move my bedtime back. If I want to keep my reading in, maybe I do need to give up some TV shows, at least temporarily and then catch up on them during the summer season. Maybe I need to stop being such a FB hound – it’s not going anywhere.
Every morning when I’m struggling to get out of bed, I say that I will start my new routine that evening. But then night rolls around, my mind wakes up and I don’t do it. And so the cycle continues. Considering how tired I was when LM wouldn’t sleep through the night, it’s stupidly amazing that I’m doing this to myself. But it feels like an addiction that I can’t break.
Any other night-owl moms out there? How do you handle the lack of sleep and early mornings? I need some advice!