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To Sleep. Perchance.

By Angela Hallstrom

sleepI just settled into my office chair to write this blog post. It is 10:52 p.m. I realize that I need to get up by 6:45 to get my oldest son off to Jr. High, but with an out-of-town husband and a long day of kid-shuttling, laundry-folding, assignment-grading, journal-editing and potty-training (yes, I started down that road today for the fourth and final time, but that’s another post altogether), the only quiet time I have is now.

And I kind of like this time of night anyway, especially when my much more sleep-disciplined husband is out of town and doesn’t expect me to turn in with him. I like the quiet. The ticking clock. The children all nestled and snug. Yes, nighttime can draw me in, and staying up late writing or reading or (ahem) playing inane games on Facebook seems seductive and relaxing at 11:45 p.m.

It’s at 6:45 a.m. that my late-night chickens come come to roost. You see, I need eight hours of sleep a night. For a long time I’ve been vaguely ashamed of this, since it seems that all sorts of high powered and important people (Martha Stewart, Thomas Edison, the mom in my neighborhood who runs marathons and works and keeps her house as neat as a pin) can get by on five or six. For many years I thought I could will myself out of my seemingly exorbitant sleep needs. When my first child was born I taught high school, and the 96-97 school year remains in my memory a blur of befuddled exhaustion. When I asked a fellow teacher (and mom) if I’d ever stop stumbling into my classroom all foggy-headed at 7 a.m., I remember her telling me, “You’ve just gotta power through it, babe. I haven’t slept more than six hours a night for ten years. Pretty soon you’ll adjust.”

Alas, I never adjusted. Even after I quit working and became a full-time mom, my body kept stubbornly insisting that unless I got at LEAST 7 hours a night, but preferably 8, I’d clomp around all day, irritable and draggy and snappish. During the few times in my life I tried to emulate my marathon-running neighbor and get up at 5:15 to exercise, the experiment lasted, oh, three days at most. Three terrible, terrible days. Just ask my family.

But guess what? Turns out that getting at least seven hours of sleep is helpful for weight-loss after all, not to mention my personal sanity. And it seems that the need for adequate sleep is even more pronounced in children and teens, affecting everything from weight to school performance to emotional health.

I recently started reading the book Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children and found the section on the consequences of kids’ sleep deprivation particularly important. Among the book’s revelations:

-Children get an hour less sleep a night than they did 30 years ago.

-Studies show that for children “a loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development” (30), causing a sleepy sixth-grader to perform at the level of a fourth grader.

-Children’s sleeping brains are different than adult brains, spending 40% of their asleep time in the “slow-wave,” dreamless stage (ten times the proportion adults spend, at 4%). This “slow-wave” stage is when the things you learned and experienced during the day are synthesized and made concrete. In other words, adequate sleep is key in helping you pass off your times tables. “Tired children can’t remember what they just learned . . . because neurons lose their plasticity, becoming incapable of forming the new synaptic connections necessary to encode a memory” (34).

-Elementary-age kids who get less than eight hours of sleep have about a 300% (yes, three HUNDRED percent) higher rate of obesity than those who get ten hours of sleep. This has to do with hormones, the slow-wave sleep stage and its connection to glucose tolerance, and the common-sense notion that when kids are sleeping they aren’t eating, and if they’re well-rested they’re more likely to be physically active.

-“Several scholars have noted that many hallmark traits of modern adolescence—moodiness, impulsiveness, disengagement—are also symptoms of chronic sleep depravation. Might our culture-wide perception of what it means to be a teenager be unwittingly skewed by the fact they don’t get enough sleep?” (38).

-When Edina, Minnesota changed its high school start time from 7:25 to 8:30, the change affected all students positively, but it affected bright students the most. “In the year preceding the time change, math/verbal SAT scores for the top 10% of Edina’s 1600 students averaged 683/605. A year later, the top 10% averaged 739/761,” a shift that the College Board’s Executive Director called “truly flabbergasting” (36).

-When high schools students drop below eight hours of sleep, the incidence of clinical-level depression doubles.

It’s obvious that not only is sleep incredibly important to me, but it’s even more important to my children. Luckily they’re all nestled snugly. Even my teenager.

It’s me who needs to get my behind in bed. It’s 12:01! If I press “publish” now, I should get at least 6 1/2 hours worth.


What are your sleep needs? Do you find a way to get enough sleep in the midst of your demanding life? What have you given up in order to sleep better? How do you ensure your young kids get enough sleep? Or (heaven help you) your teenagers? Especially if you’re dragging them to early morning seminary (oh, the horror)???

About Angela Hallstrom

(Advisory Board) grew up in Utah, then moved to Minnesota, then came back to Utah, then packed up her husband and four kids and moved to Minnesota--again!-- in the summer of 2010. Although she loves the Land of 10,000 Lakes, she dearly misses Slurpees, Sunday dinners at her Mom's house, and eating a whole entire Cafe Rio pork salad while lunching with her Utah-based Segullah sisters. And yes, she finds it telling that everything she misses about her hometown is somehow related to food. She has an BA in English from BYU, an MFA in creative writing from Hamline University, and has taught writing to high school and college students.

43 thoughts on “To Sleep. Perchance.”

  1. What does it say about me that I'm late enough to answer this?

    I love sleep. And like you I also relish the quiet of the late night hours. I also hate the alarm clock that says it's time for scripture study. I wish there was a limbo time that lasted from the time the kids go to bed until the time I go to bed. Time shouldn't move forward during those hours. Then, once I hit the sack, it should be 10:00 and I'll have 9 hours of sleep ahead of me. Is that too much to ask?

    My 4 and 5 year old average twelve hours of sleep a night. They sleep from 7 to 7. My 8 and 9 year old average ten hours a night. I envy them all. We try to be very consistent with bedtime. I need the quiet time and they need the rest. We all suffer when they don't get their sleep. It makes for a very structured after school time to fit in homework, dinner, scouts, play, etc.,and we sometimes feel like we have no free time because of it, but it's worth it for us.

  2. This is a topic that isn't pleasant for me, as anyone who knows me knows.

    I have had sleep disorder issues since I was a child. Therefore, I have never really liked going to bed, never really slept well (except on my mission), and it has affected my life significantly. I have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, getting back to sleep, sleeping soundly, etc. etc. etc.

    But I believe that sleep is important. It's just hard when your body doesn't really know how to do it.

    I may be on sleep meds for the rest of my life. Sigh.

    What was the recommended amount of sleep for elementary-aged kids, Angela?

  3. Like you, Angela, I love staying up late by myself when my husband is out of town. And tonight I'm up late because my husband went to bed early so he can get up for a 6:00 a.m. Pilates class–which I will never do–and I told him I'd be coming to bed soon. But then I waited up for my teenagers to come home, and after they went to bed it was just me and the dog and a quiet house, and I did some editing. I love this time of the night. But, like you, I pay for it the next day.

    So I'm going to bed now.

    And I do best on 71/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night, but can get by on 6.

  4. Wow, that is so good to know. I'm also someone who has to have their sleep, preferably 9 hours. I know that that seems shocking or lazy to some people, but remember that 8 is the average . . . I'm just on the higher side. And I prefer to get those nine hours by going to bed earlier than most people, ideally around 9 or 9:30.

  5. Such an important topic that is overlooked or associated with "laziness". Thank you for this!

    It is another one of those areas in which each person has to be courageous enough to taylor their life to fit their needs. Discipline fits in there too- yikes!

    In the past I needed less sleep, since having health issues I've needed more. And now I'm getting up at 5 am for the seminary shuttle service. I do it, instead of my husband, because I'm a SAHM and can nap when the toddler does. I let my teenager nsp when she gets home from school, so far, she's getting better grades than ever.

    Make your own rules about sleep schedule, but do try to have a schedule. No caffeine really does help too.

    Sleep is valuable, it is a blessing we should take advantage of instead of pushing ourselves to accomplish more than is needful. It can be pride to think we don't need the proper 8 hours (or more for some), speaking from personal experience. I have been humbled physically many times by trying to accomplish too much on too little sleep – horrid consequences. This is a condition of mortality that we should humbly submit to. If we do we will be happier and more successful, and so will those we care for.

  6. I need *so* much sleep. Everything in my life works better when I get 9 hours–and then I still need a 30 minute nap in the afternoon to recharge my batteries before handling the afternoon & evening demands. I can survive on 7 or 8 but then I am much less calm and need a longer nap. Most of my family needs this much sleep too. I really hate it, and I particularly hate it when people tell me how they can get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep and look at me like I am either insane or insanely lazy for sleeping this much. Thankfully my sweet husband understands my body's need for sleep and takes good care of me.

  7. After reading this post, I worry for my soon to be seminary age children. They will have to get up at 5am or earlier. How are they supposed to funtion on so little sleep and maintain their grades?

  8. I've recently started teasing my husband that he has sleep anorexia. Obviously sleep is just as important to our bodies as food but he refuses to get enough sleep. And I am finding out how much a follower I am when I hang around waiting for him to go to bed, even though I need more sleep & wake up 2x a night at least with the kiddos. Sigh. More sleep at our house would solve a lot of problems.

  9. I've always been a night owl, but realized since my mission that I really do function better with more sleep. From the time I was 12 and started a paper route until I left on my mission I generally 'got by' with somewhere around 6 hours of sleep. On my mission I actually had to get 8 hours a night and realized how good it made me feel. Our kids are only 3 and 6 and we've always been sticklers about bedtime. They get between 11 and 12 hours a night. I do worry about when they get older and more involved in activities that might affect their sleep. I suppose one advantage of where we live now is that they won't have early morning seminary. I've known people who have had discipline issues with their kids that really cleared up when they had a better sleep schedule.

  10. I believe everything about the difference is your life via sleep, esp with children!
    I can barely stay awake past 10pm and do better if i don't wake up till 6:30 – 7. It is embarrassing – but true.

    My DH likes to stay up and get up late – if i start out late, i still get up at the same time – and…

    cranky does not even start to explain it!

  11. M&M, my heart goes out to you with your sleep issues. I haven't dealt with real sleep problems very often, but during the few times in my life when I haven't been able to sleep even though I *want* to sleep I've realized what a blessing it is to simply put my head on my pillow, close my eyes, and rest. The ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is something we really take for granted until that ability is disrupted.

    As far as recommended amounts of sleep, most experts seem to recommend at least 10 hours for elementary school students, and that 9 hours is optimal and 8 hours is the minimum necessary for teens. Here's a good link to a quick Q&A about teens' sleep needs: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/04/20/earlyshow/saturday/askmike/main689727.shtml

    And Jendoop, I love your wise words: sleep "is a condition of mortality that we should humbly submit to. If we do we will be happier and more successful, and so will those we care for." I especially like your emphasis on the word "humble." How many of us could get more sleep but don't because we think we "should" be go-go-going 18 hours a day?? In much the same way that eating right takes discipline, so does sleeping right. (Says the black pot who woke up this morning after her 6 1/2 hours.)

    April, I really don't know how to answer you re: early morning seminary. According to Nurture Shock, the research is becoming clearer all the time that teen sleep deprivation is a very big problem, and that waking early can be particularly difficult for teen brains. If a teen doesn't (can't?) fall asleep until 11:00 p.m. and we're asking her to get up at 5 a.m. it's *got* to have some real consequences. It's a tough problem, to be sure.

  12. thanks Angela.

    April, to give you more specifics about our teenager's seminary schedule:

    up at 5am
    home from school at 3:30, nap for 1-2 hours
    evening for dinner, homework, & fun
    shower and bedtime at 8:30

    She did miss mutual one week because she needed more sleep and homework time. For us seminary is that important.

  13. I don't think I've seen 10:00 p.m. since last year's retreat. I've always been early to bed, I honestly think I'm just wired that way. It's gotten worse since the MS business, with daily naps added into the mix, to boot.

    My husband's sleep issues are exactly the opposite of mine. He cannot ever seem to be able to fall asleep, and then has a terrible time getting up every morning.

    We're sleep nazi's at our house with the kids. 10-12 hours for little kids and at least 9 for the older ones. It has more to do with the selfish parents wanting a few minutes alone together though!

  14. Sleep! Could there be anything better? If I don't get enough I am so irritable, so I put myself to bed for a nap while the kids watch a show and wake up much more useful.
    I'm a fan of naps. If anyone in our house is really tired , it doesn't matter what is going on, we let them go take a nap.
    I need 8-9 hours. I really wish I was like all those people you mentioned who can get by on so little. I dream of all the things I could get done, (all my laundry, for one). But I'm only human.
    I am particularly keen on teens getting enough sleep. It is so, so important.

  15. Thank you! For years I've felt like such a weirdo for needing more sleep than most (and we're only talking 8-10 hours)!

    As a child, my mom could not keep me awake in the evening or wake me in the morning. She let me sleep.

    During school years, I would get bronchitis (or some other sickness) every final exam week. It became very apparent that my sleep was tied to my immune system.

    Now as a SAHM with young children…
    I'm a zombie!
    I get headaches all the time, I'm moody, I can't work out regularly (have you ever tried when you're dead tired? It does not energize, it brings on a migraine), and my children and husband suffer.

    I can't even remember what "well-rested" feels like!

    This post is so timely. I was almost in tears this morning and thinking about calling my mom to come entertain my kids while I take a nap (we just moved back near family). Naps don't make me feel amazing, but they do take the edge off.

    I'm glad I'm not the only superwoman who can't make it work on 5 hours. 🙂

  16. I worked in a neuroscience lab that was doing research on sleep deprivation and the stuff I read there was enough to make me a little bit obsessive about my sleep. I'm a morning person, need at least 7 hours, but do best with 8.5, and have usually been pretty good about going to bed by 10 or so. Until having my second child. Now I just really seem to struggle with giving up the time in the evenings that I can get stuff done, mostly for myself, or time with my husband. I love it. But then I still tend to wake by 6:30 (often at least one of the kids is up by then), sometimes earlier because I also love my morning runs. I just struggle with giving up "me" time. Guess with kids its not entirely logical to expect to have several hours a day, LOL!

    We've been pretty big sticklers with the kids bedtimes–for their sake, and ours–I tend to stay up 2-3 hours after they go to bed, no matter what time that is, so I need them in bed by 8. Our 5 year old finally sleeps in many mornings so she's getting 11-12 hours a night, 3 year old, who still naps between 1-2 hours a day sleeps about 10-11 at night, usually depending on his nap length.

    And even though we have years before it comes up, I do worry about seminary. I know I was horribly sleep deprived in HS, and I even skipped seminary an average of 2 times a week most years (I had to do a lot of make up work to pass each year, but that worked better for me than being a zombie every day). When I got to college and started sleeping more, I was AMAZED at how different I felt. And yes, more and more research is saying that HS start times are too early in most places–most teens clocks don't work on that schedule. I was a lucky one who could go to sleep by 9:30 most nights if I didn't have too much HW, but I know so many people who physically couldn't. Its a little sad that we put teens health at risk in order to fit a certain mold that is most convienent for everyone else–the teachers, the bus scheduling, the sports practices and times, part time jobs, etc. . . But its hurting the kids themselves, and they don't even know all of the long term effects yet.

    I love sleeping.

  17. I was just thinking about this on my way to my daughters' dentist appts this morning at 7:30! I'm never up early enough to be somewhere at that time. I'm also a model for the 8 hour necessity. And as far as my children go, we finally figured out the unusually early bedtime routine which now seems so normal. They average 10-12 hours and it's so true that even an hour different can ruin their ability to function optimally. I was also thinking, as we left the house in the dark, how wonderful it is that our school district has adopted the later start times here. I can't even possibly imagine getting my daughter to the bus at 7am. I don't know how widespread it is since my school days, but 9am is so tremendously better than 8 that is seems shocking they didn't do it way before now.

    I've been really wanting to challenge myself to try the whole "early to bed, early to rise" concept. I do believe it has spiritual significance as well as temporal… But for some reason, I just can't put myself to bed without getting everything done that needs to be accomplished sans children. And I really enjoy the down time with my husband who likes to work on his projects late – he can run on 5 hours easily so he's up early no matter what. I wish I could figure out how to get myself to sleep faster because I think I would benefit by being an earlier riser, but it takes me 30-60 minutes to fall asleep, both initially and every time I get up (too often lately with a teething baby), so if I even want to hope for 8 actual hours of sleep I need to be IN bed for 10. There just aren't enough hours in the day!

  18. A good friend of ours did an experiment for about 6 months, where he slept for 15 minutes every four hours. That was all. He said it was really hard for the first week, and it was hyper critical to not go longer than 4 hours or longer than 15 minutes, but he managed to live that way for half a year! Then they had a baby and life shifted, as it always does.

    I don't think he was dying to go back to that cycle, but I was amazed at how little he successfully got by on. He loved that he felt so wildly productive(he was in graduated school at the time).

    Anyway, crazy sleep story.

  19. That is crazy! Wow! don't think I even want to try it, although when I think about how much I could do, it is an interesting thought.

  20. Al, naps do take the edge off, don't they? I love a good nap. But are any of you guilty nappers? I am. The rare instances where I do nap I often seem to be sleeping with one ear open, ready to jump back out of bed–or I dream that I'm oversleeping and missing something important. I wish I could just NAP without all the attendant napping anxiety.

    I need to claim my sleep!!

    Corktree, I wish we had later start times here in South Jordan. My son in Jr. High needs to be out for the bus by 7:18, and the high school bus is even earlier than that (7:00 a.m. I think?). I remember being exhausted when I was in high school, barely able to stay awake during history class 1st period. I have these vivid memories of falling asleep on my desk (regularly) and drooling on my notes. Because in the late 80s not only did we have early start times, but it took a minimum of 30 minutes to to dry, curl, tease and spray my hair ALONE. I tell my daughter how good she has it, to live in a time of relatively uncomplicated hair.

    And Justine, seriously? 15 minutes every four hours? That sounds like torture. Literally.

  21. I need 8. I always have. If I get up at 5, I am usually falling asleep at my dinner plate by 8 pm. Add to that the fact that my husband is a filmmaker, and rarely comes home before midnight (or even 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 during production.) I am chronically sleep deprived. My biggest issue with Timpview High is the 7:25 start time. I would love to see them change that to 8:45 like the elementary school.

    (Plus, It's impossible to have family prayer in the morning when one leaves at 7 for HS, one leaves at 7:30 for MS, and the youngest leaves at 8:30!) We typically have ours at 9pm.)

    That book? Nurture Shock? Has been in my Amazon shopping cart for weeks now! Sounds like I need to follow through and purchase it!

  22. p.s. I love the quiet evening hours as well. That's when I do my best writing, painting, reading and thinking. It's like I get this sudden burst of energy when the kids are in bed. Heaven help us night owls!

  23. Cindy – I totally know what you mean! I'm usually exhausted by 9pm and cannot get myself up before 8. I feel pretty lazy about that, especially when I look around at people who sleep a whole lot less. I'm definitely a 9-11 hour a night girl.

    But a lot of my difficulty getting the sleep I need comes from a terrible college schedule and then when I got married I became unable to fall asleep until the husband was in bed, too. My bedtime is 10 and his is 11, which means that I usually just lay there sleepless until 11 or give up and join him in my zombie state. I really got to get over this! Another problem is I have crazy anxiety at night if I wake up before 5AM and then I take forever to fall back to sleep.

    And I find that if my iron intake is enough (I'm typically anemic) then I can get through my day without needing a nap. Yay for iron!

  24. I am a night owl and I have to have my sleep so my household isn't a running ship in the morning (unless it's being run by my 5 year old). I dont really wish I was one of those people that could function off 5 hours. I like sleeping! My dad is the same exact way I just found out. There is also a book that talks about scientific studies and the body chemistry needs of sleep – it's called "The Metabolic Method" by Shane M. Talbot. It's very fascinating to me.

    I've always wondered why they keep inching the high school hours EARLIER!?? It was about 8am for me 15 years ago, and now it's gradually crept more to 7am! Thats insane! I did early morning drill team practice (awake by 5:30 am) and had to quit my senior year because it was too much. My lack of sleep was affecting every single thing I did and causing me to feel depressive when I was otherwise a happy child from a happy home. I wasn't able to connect the two like I am today, and I feel like had I gone to bed a lot earlier and got more sleep my life would've been a different world.
    I love sleep statstics – I could talk about sleep all day…. mmmmmmm. glorious sleep.

  25. I am a proud napper. I go by the early to bed, early to rise thing — as in bed at midnight, up at 6:30! But I take a 1-2 hr nap several times a week. In college, I was always the last one to bed, and usually the first one up in the morning. The least sleep I got was in high school. I'd get to bed between 11-12 and then get up between 4:30-5am for seminary. But, then on the days I didn't work after school, I'd come home and take a long nap for 2-3 hours.

    My best sleep is during my naps. That's when I dream. Ironically, even in the summer, when I nap, I wear my clothes and pull the covers up. We just got new phones and my favorite feature of them is the "Do Not Disturb" feature. You turn that on, and not only does the phone not ring, but when someone calls and leaves a message, you can't hear the answering machine. LOVE IT!!

    "Quiet Time" is a religion at my house, and all my kids whether napping-age or not(as well as my friends and family), know that between 1-3 we are resting and to not bother me.

  26. My patriarchal blessing specifically instructs me to get a lot of sleep as a mother. I'm not a mother (STILL, how long does this take!?) but I take it seriously and get lots of sleep practice. I usually get at least 10 hours. Did I mention I'm not a mother yet? Anyway.

  27. If I don't get my 7-8, I have the good fortune of being able to nap while my toddler naps. I don't know what I will do when I have two if they don't both nap together. I absolutely need my sleep to stay sane, you know, if this is what sane is. 🙂

  28. I have been recently struggling with this… being a productive, busy night owl my whole life – I work best at night and I crave the quiet midnight oil where I can work on my projects.

    But I've been learning that it's particularly challenging for a Mother, because, as all we seasoned Mums know – our life is full of interupptions and our days are full of fulfilling other's needs. I recently made the change from having just one boy to two… and a friend of mine just confided in me that it's the time of your life where you go from having SOME time all of your own to having NO time of your own. 🙂

    So it's a choice that I'm finding I need to make every few days to turn in to bed sooner than I usually would, because as you point out, the many benefits of sleep catch up – so it's a balance of having a few late nights of doing the things that make me "me" (and so I can be a better Mom in the day) to getting the sleep that will keep me from being a sleep depriving foggy monster! 🙂

    Also: I'm learning the value of a good power nap.

  29. You'd think we'd be better at sleeping, we spend so much time doing it. . . My first reaction to your post and the studies about how well children perform when they're sleep deprived is: "WHATINTHEWHAT?"

    We have an 8:00pm bedtime, but I feel like my kids are the only ones on the block who aren't still playing outside at dusk. Time to spread the good word about ZZZZZZs to the rest of the neighborhood.

    How much more productive could we be as a society if we all snoozed like we should? Sounds like a political platform, huh? Can we sleep more? Yes, we can!

  30. I tried to tell them but would they listen nooooo……

    My children go to a high school that starts at 7:25 and by the time the winter is done we are all a wreck physically and emotionally. They do it to accommodate the athletic programs but it is so hard to keep up with. When my children were little and I heard from neighbors that high school started at 7:25 (if they are tardy more than twice then they are required to go to tardy make up which starts at 6:45 in the morning once for a tardy and two for an absence). I honestly thought I would have to move before they got high school age. By April I am literally praying for the end of the school year. I get usually like three eight hour sleep nights till summer band starts but then finally at the end of June it happens I get full nights sleep for a whole month and a half until school starts again.

    I haven't read the comments but look forward to feeling your sleep deprived pain for sure. I do know that when I was pregnant with my last child I went back bed every day after my kids left for school getting about 8-10 hours total a night added together and I felt so great! I have a chronic health condition that was completely in remission for the entire pregnancy. It felt like a miracle, and in a way it was, a blessed sleep bestowed miracle.

    I need to do better getting my kidos to bed at a better time but I try to make sure that the little ones get 9 hours and have contemplated duct taping the teens in their beds and removing the light bulb (not really) but maybe in my sleep deprived delirium I've thought about other less harsh more kind yet creative solutions.

    Each week I get to a place of no sleep craziness. It usually happens by about Thursday. I call it the Thursdays and you better not mess with me on Thursday. Or expect coherent sentences. Friday to Saturday that's good sleep. Saturday to Sunday that is also good sleep.

    If what I've typed makes no sense don't worry I'll figure it out in a couple of days, say Saturday morning after a full nights rest. It is Thursday after all.

  31. Loving all the comments. Thanks.

    Natalie, what a great admonition to have in your patriarchal blessing!

    Paula, I, too, sometimes feel like the only mom in the neighborhood who calls her kids in before dusk. With year-round school it gets particularly difficult: my kids are trying to sleep, but it's light outside and they can hear their friends across the street running around. It's a battle.

    I'm with a lot of you, though: I put my kids to bed relatively early because I know it's good for them, but it's also good (VERY good) for me. I need that quiet time, and my husband and I need it together.

    And Dovie–I feel your pain!! Completely understandable and comprehensible pain, even on a Thursday. 🙂

  32. I have been sleep deprived for the past 25 years, roughly since I started early morning seminary at the age of 14. It's been downhill ever since. But never in all that time did I consider that the problem was with the starting time of my day. I just figured I was failing miserably at the "retire early" part of the Lord's scriptural admonitions. I know sleep disorders are different, and I'm not referring to those who so suffer, but for the rest of us, the scriptures seem pretty clear to me that to have the vim and vigor we require and that the Lord promises us, we need to rise AND retire early. I'm not there yet, not even close, but I'm trying. I know that I have years of early morning seminary in my future (early here starts at 6am, if kids have an early bird class at the high school, then CES offers early early seminary at 5). Somehow I survived 4 years of seminary myself, and my parents survived 5 children worth. We always had scriptures and prayer before the seminary kids left for the day. (yes there were days of incoherence and "couch prayers" on the part of the non-seminary kids, but in the spirit of Elder Bednar's conference talk, I have to believe that the consistence of those efforts blessed us even if the substance was lacking sometimes) For now, I just keep trying to get to bed earlier, calm my children into peaceful slumber no later than 8 (they leave for school at 7:30 now) and hope that incomplete obedience counts for something and that my daydreams of sleep will be somewhat restful in the meantime 🙂

  33. I'm on the night-owl side of things, although I am constantly telling myself I need to get to bed earlier. But I know I would still sleep in as late as possible. Maybe with more sleep I could be more productive during my fewer hours awake?!

    I remember *always* feeling sleep deprived as a teen, what with early-morning seminary and drill team practice. Right now my kids start elementary school at 9:15 (they are "late birds," the "early birds" start at 8), and I LOVE it. I never have to wake anyone up, and they can easily get their 10+ hours in. Not looking forward to my oldest going to Jr High next year with an earlier start time.

    I also constantly felt sleep-deprived whenever I was pregnant. I absolutely could not make it through a day without a nap. I bet sleep requirements for pregnancy at least double! 🙂

  34. I need at least 8 hours. Unfortunately for me dealing with the business world, the best 8 hours for me are the 8 hours between 4am and noon. The 8 hours between 10pm and 6am just aren't the same. And I've been that way my whole life, and it's been quite frustrating at times.

    Part of the problem is that the late night hours are the best hours of the day. They are quiet and uninterrupted. So I deal.

    When I get my eight hours I'm more relaxed. I'm calmer. I can focus.

    And my elementary students who would tell me they were going to bed as late as I was scared me. Whatever happened to bed time any more?!

  35. the best 8 hours for me are the 8 hours between 4am and noon.

    Ah, so I am not alone.

    I'm trying to get back to earlier, to about 2 am.

    Sad, but true. It's all about progress w/in your sphere, right?

  36. I think it's time for the Church to rethink the logic of early morning seminary. Do LDS students really benefit from the lessons as much as they would benefit from adequate sleep?
    Yes, I know the argument that seminary graduates are more likely to go on missions and marry in the temple than non-seminary graduates, but couldn't that be because seminary graduates come from active families?

  37. Seminary is priceless! Don't get me started!

    This is just another example of choosing our priorities wisely. There is time for all that is necessary in an early morning seminary student's day, including sleep – if you don't consider TV, ninetendo, "hanging out" for hours, and misc. as necessary. I think it is good to teach teenagers that tough decisions have to be made about how they spend their time, it will translate to the rest of their lives. It also happens to leave less time for getting into trouble.

  38. Like jendoop, I think Seminary is priceless even in the early a.m., I think I do sometimes sacrifice sleep on a proverbial alter for important things. I think that Lord will help all my ends meet (or enough that I don't completely unravel) if I do my best to put things in order when my resources are not enough, He will help me with the rest. My part right now is trying to do better about getting adequate sleep.

    I am one of the guilty ones on summer evenings, I let my children play and usually I am right out their with them. Summer evenings are so delicious, nmmmm… I need one right now but seems I have 9 months to wait till they roll around again.

  39. My husband is a night owl, and my 4-year-old daughter is just like him. The earliest I can get her to bed is 10:00pm, and if I let her, she'd sleep until 10:00am! It's in her DNA. Crazy.

  40. On the seminary question: after living in Minnesota for eight years (one of which my husband taught early morning seminary) I'll admit that I felt selfishly grateful to move back to Utah before my kids hit early-morning seminary age. I am a big believer in the importance of seminary and know that it's worth the sacrifice for those who do get up early and take naps and do other things in order to accommodate it. But I feel almost guilty about how much easier those of us in Utah have it, building it right into our kids' schedules without all that attendant sacrifice. I'm sure that sacrifice can make it even more meaningful in the end . . . but it's still gotta be hard.

  41. I too have had sleep problems most of my life–there was a year in high school that I didn't go to bed before 2am. And I still had early morning seminary. I slept through a lot of classes in high school and definitely preformed below my abilities. Now that I read your post it makes me wonder just how much I was capable of.

    So having these life long struggles with sleep, knowing that my parents didn't enforce any positive sleep behaviors I am pretty much known as the sleep nazi in my house when it comes to my daughter. We have 1 daughter and sleep is where I am the most strict. She's only 2 1/2, but she takes a nap everyday and still goes to bed no later than 7. Even if she fights the nap, she is still in her bed every day. She was not born a good sleeper, but I worked very hard to help her be a good sleeper. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child was my bible as a new mom and I still refer to it from time to time. I believe that a lot of children's behavioral issues at a young age can be tied to their sleep patterns. I've also realized for myself that it's not just how long I sleep, it's when I sleep. If I get 8 hours of sleep, but didn't get to bed until 1am, it's not the same as 8 hours of sleep starting at 10:30 or 11.

  42. I don't get enough sleep, though I actually pray that my sleep with give me the rest I need and I am so thankful that it does!

    No matter how bone tired I am, I cannot bring myself to go to bed to sleep if my boys are still awake. Or even in bed reading. I sacrifice that half hour of sleep so I can look at them, soft and careless in slumber, turn off their lamps and whisper in their ears my love for them. It never feels like sacrifice, then.

    I watched a documentary about sleep called "Dead Tired", which covered how sleep deprivation is worse than drugs or alcohol for impairment of reflexes or mental ability. Also the relationship between bad sleep habits, hormonal swings and teen moods and depression. It was a shock to see how mainstream and dismissed lack of sleep has become.

    I had a stress test years ago, which meant I was not allowed to sleep, basically in order to see if I would have an epileptic fit. I went nearly 55 hours and it was horrible – I understand how it would work as a torture. I actually had notes of the uni study I had been doing during the test, which started off fine then by the end where totally disjointed and bizarre.

    Sleep is important – I'm off to catch some z's right now!


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