Moms: Why are y’all complaining about how tired you are all the time? Apparently, you’re getting as much sleep as a college student during winter break, according to a new survery from Amerisleep (a mattress company), which says that moms are getting an average of nine hours of sleep per night. Not per week, per night. So why are we b*tching that we’re so exhausted?
Well, turns out the word "sleep" covers all “sleep-related activities” under the terms of this particular survey. That means they count sleeping, but also “falling asleep, dozing off, napping, getting up, waking up, dreaming, catnapping, getting some shut-eye and dozing.” But wait, it gets better. They also count “sleeplessness, such as insomnia, tossing and turning, lying awake and counting sheep.”
Well, when you put it that way, I guess I do get a lot of sleep, if I count doing a faceplant into my iPhone while waiting in the parking lot during soccer practice, that time each night where I lay down with my kids for “just a few minutes” and inevitably doze for 20 and, oh, the time spent later on when I’m staring at the ceiling because I took the aforementioned 20-minute nap four hours ago. According to the same study, dads are getting up to half an hour less sleep, which is crazy because we’re usually the ones still awake, listening to them snore after they drift off instantly.
A competing survey from Sleep Junkie found that new parents were getting around five to six hours of sleep per night. That sounds a bit more accurate (though my average in the newborn days was sometimes three or four hours, once you factored in feedings and overnight diaper changes).
Another study from the Sleep Research Society determined that for the first six years of a child’s life, women were getting poor-quality sleep and not much of it. Considering there are never enough hours in the day, and when we do lay down, we’re worrying, that tracks.
As the Amerisleep study points out, being sleep-deprived is no good if you're trying to be on the top of your parenting game, nor is it good for your general lifestyle. Parents need to commit to getting the necessary seven to nine hours, for real -- thinking about sleep not included.
That’s a lot easier said than done. Setting a firm bedtime just like you do for you kids is one step you can take, and then banning screens from the bedroom is another. Then doing something relaxing, like reading or making lists for your next day so your head isn’t swimming with tomorrow’s to-do list is the best way to minimize the time spent falling asleep. Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll get those elusive nine hours we’ve heard so much about.