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How on earth is it possible to get 8 hours of sleep at night?!?

Is it possible to get 8 hours of sleep every night?

I attended my first MOPS meeting tonight. When they introduced the video I think I gave an audible “Yay!” (Hopefully it wasn’t too loud?) when I saw it was a video from you explaining living with intentionally. When it was time to discuss, I joyfully began telling how I follow your posts and how your time management of “fringe” time and blocking off 8 hours of sleep were life changing for me. But, several just couldn’t believe 8 hours of sleep is possible, even when you “live intentionally.” How do you encourage people who are skeptical that it is possible?? -Luci

First off, Luci, I loved this email from you! Thank you for being such a devoted reader. I was truly touched and grateful to hear that things you have read here have encouraged you and made such an impact on your life.

Here are a few thoughts to answer your question:

I know I say this often, but I’m going to say it again: I think it’s always important to remember that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

So what might be the perfect solution for you and your family in your season of life may not work at all for a different family in a different season of life. Do what works for you. And don’t worry if it’s completely different than what works for someone else.

I’m thrilled that you’ve found ways to make sleep a priority and are getting 8 hours of sleep every night! That’s fantastic! However, for moms who are still getting up multiple times each night with a toddler or baby, for women who struggle with insomnia, for pregnant women, or for those with other physical issues or limitations, getting a solid 8 hours of sleep each night just might not be possible.

When I encourage people to make sleep a priority, it’s because I believe that many of us are sleep deprived and exhausted and that this is contributing to a number of physical issues. But I don’t say this to lay a guilt trip on women or to put everyone in a one-size-fits-all sleep box.

Some people genuinely need more sleep than others. Some people can truly function well on less sleep. Figure out what works for you.

If you’re feeling exhausted all the time, look at your schedule with your spouse or a good friend and ask them for their input on how you might be able to fit more sleep into your schedule. Get creative, if need be!

Some ideas: Maybe you could sneak a nap in while your baby naps in the morning. Or maybe you could go to bed when your kids do. Perhaps you could find a way to sleep in a little extra in the mornings. Or maybe you could even take a mid-afternoon nap with your toddler.

In addition, make sure you’re exhaustion is actually sleep related and not the result of poor diet, lack of exercise, not drinking enough water, too much stress, or another physical problem that’s contributing to you feeling fatigued.

No matter what season of life you are in, do make sleep a priority. This doesn’t have to mean 8 hours of solid sleep every night, but it does mean that you prioritize sleep and that you take opportunities you have to sneak in naps, go to bed early when you’re tired, and get up a little later if you’re feel drained. It might mean that some other things get set aside so you can squeeze in a little extra sleep, but it will be worth it. Because here’s the thing: if you make sleep a priority, it will have a positive trickle down effect into almost all other areas of your life.

What advice and thoughts do you have for Luci? How do you prioritize sleep in your life? I’d love to hear!

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22 Comments

  • When I feel exhausted because of lack of sleeping I try to go to bed early ( as soon as the chlidren fall asleep ) postponing things I should do ( if possible ). This works for me because I know that the next day I will be less tired and I will work more quickly.

  • Amanda says:

    I so appreciated that you mentioned 8 hours is just not possible for some people. Little ones often still wake me up at night. I also have a lot of interrupted sleep because of physical ailments. I do make rest a priority and I think that’s the point. Sleep and rest when you need to, so that you can keep your body in good working order!

  • Victoria says:

    Sleep for me is vital. It never fails that if I try to skimp on sleep too much I end up getting sick. Getting sick totally undoes whatever I got done by skimping on sleep, and then I just end up further behind. It took me several years to understand this. I would see these women staying up to midnight to get all these things done and then getting up at five or six to do some more, and I would feel like such a failure.I thought I was just not as driven as they were. It made me feel lazy to admit I needed a full 8 hours sleep to stay well. Now wisdom has taught me to do what my body needs and stop comparing. I sleep a full 7 to 8 hours, and if for some reason I have to wake up earlier than that, or I just didn’t sleep well, I feel no guilt about laying down and taking a 1 hr nap. I agree though this is so hard to do in the infant and toddler stage (none of my children slept through the night with any regularity until they were 4 years old). When I had some children that napped and others that didn’t I made nap time for the little one the only time the older ones got to watch TV. I put out nap mats and gave the a sippy cup and a small snack and placed a few books beside them, then turned on the TV and grabbed a pillow and a blanket and watched TV lying on the couch behind them. Sure it wasn’t sleep, but it was a rest, and it gave me energy to get through the afternoon. When my husband was home then I went upstairs for a real nap. One last tip is if you are getting your full 8 hours almost every night and you are still tired you may want to get your iron levels checked.

  • Laura says:

    I wish I only had to find time for 8 hours of sleep! 😉 I’m one of those people who needs more than 8 hours of sleep, and it is hard to find 9-10 hours of sleep, plus time to wind down at bedtime. But it’s definitely a priority because otherwise my health suffers.

    I depend heavily on my husband (thankfully he works from home most days) and on electronic entertainment to let me sleep in. And then I have to prioritize what I’m going to get done and ask for help for the rest (or just let it not get done).

  • Heather says:

    I now have two teens and one teen. I never thought it would get harder to get a full nights sleep as the kids got older, but it’s true–although at least it’s not interrupted! I’ve been amazed at how many school-required and youth group events go late on week nights. By the time they get home, shower, fly through homework, and get ready for bed,it’s usually close to 11pm and the alarm goes off at six to be able to get to the 7am bus. During this season we don’t feel guilty sleeping in until 10 on weekends…and are so thankful it really is just a season–a six year one, but still. 🙂

  • Ashley P says:

    My body currently won’t let me sleep 8 hours. (9 months pregnant. And I have a toddler.)

    But for me, right no, I get about 6.5 hours a night. I go to bed at 9 and I’m usually awake by 3:30 or so. And that works for me right now. I have no actual reason to wake up earlier. I just wake up automatically, and once I’m up, I’m up. So I play on my phone a bit, unload the dish washer, toss in a load of laundry. I’m sure after baby comes, I’ll be needing more sleep. But right now, my body simply will not allow it.

    I have an uncle who works in Hollywood, and is constantly working crazy hours. He breaks his sleep up into 4 hour chunks. That works for him, too.
    The key is to find a rhythm that works for you. If you’re dragging through the day, you’re not getting enough. But if you only got 6 hours, and you’re fresh as a daisy in the AM, that may be all you need in this season of life.

  • Laurie says:

    I have always needed a lot of sleep even as a child. My girls are 7&11 and are great sleepers. I am the sleep Nazi. I get 10-12 hrs a night. We all go to bed at the same time most nights around 830. When I read comments from others that say they are too busy to get to bed or have a million things to do I just think things can wait until the next day and get to bed. Even when the girls were babies I slept when they did. For me sleep is critical to function. God bless those who can get by with little sleep.

  • As a mom of littles who really “needs her sleep”, these are a few things that I have found really helpful.

    1. DON’T watch the clock when your little ones wake you up in the night. (I read this on Crystal’s old blog years ago and it made SUCH a huge difference.) Really, knowing that you were awake at 1:00, 3:15, 5:40, etc does nothing to help you feel more rested. God has promised to give us grace, and sometimes we just need to claim it on nights with highly interrupted sleep.

    2. Avoid social media and other time suckers after bedtime.

    3. Relax your body with stretches or yoga before going to bed. After struggling with horrible neck/shoulder for a long time, a friend introduced me to “Pain Free”. Doing the simple exercises not only cured my pain, it helped me sleep MUCH deeper. (Read my full review here: http://feminineadventures.com/2014/01/14/pain-free-book-revie/)

  • Laura says:

    Ever since your “endocrine” article, I’ve been focusing on making sleep more of a priority. I really do function better with at least 7 hours of sleep. My energy levels are off the charts if I get 8 or more hours! It is totally worth it. This is not the kind of energy a cup of espresso buys. Investing in an extra hour of sleep is totally worth the time.

  • Kristin says:

    I completely agree! Everyone is in a different season of their lives, but sleep is very important and we all just need to be aware of the fact that we need to take care of ourselves the best we can in order to function throughout the day! I’m currently 6 months pregnant with a high risk pregnancy and have a 3 year old who refuses to nap, so sleep/rest is very slim right now, but I am making every effort to try and get the rest I know I need, which includes going to sleep when my son goes to bed at night.

  • Sue says:

    Since I’m a morning person, I have always gone to bed early. As soon as the kids were at a reasonable age I went to bed when they did or earlier. And so I get up early….thats my productive fringe time. I get up when my body wakes up…sometimes I get 8 hrs…sometimes less…but it seems its whatever I need.

  • AC says:

    Sleep is huge for me. It just wasn’t possible to get 8 hours of sleep for me when my first was a newborn. She wasn’t a good sleeper or napper. That being said, we did sleep training with both of ours at around 6 months so from then on, I’ve gotten between 8 and 9 hours of sleep. We made and have kept consistent routines for bedtime for many years. It’s just as important with school kids as it is with toddlers!

    Other thoughts:
    – Don’t piddle around your house. Write down what HAS to be done that day and knock it out.
    – Turn off the TV, computer, phone. You’ll be amazed how much time you have when you reduce or eliminate those things.
    – Go to bed the same time every night. My husband and I are the ‘weirdos’ who do date lunches and eat with the senior citizens on our rare date nights. We want to be home by 8 or 8:30 so we can get to bed at our usual time even on weekends.
    – Do pick up every day and make your kids (if you have them) help. It greatly reduces the time to deal with cleaning and picking up.

  • Delorise says:

    I am one of those people that require– and I do mean require 7 but preferably 8 hours of sleep a night. I am also not a morning or late night person– I call myself a middle of the day person. I have a friend that can function fine on 4 to 5 hours a night. Different people require different amounts of rest. Just glad I know what works best for me.

  • Melissa says:

    As someone who because of physical issues requires 8 and 1/2 hours of sleep a night (and I still struggle with strong and sometimes disabling daytime fatigue some days and many afternoons) here is what I have learned.

    1. Go to bed by 10 or 10:30 at the latest. I need 9 or more hours if I stay up too late. That early night sleep counts for more and helps me sleep less!

    2. Simplify food prep. One of the best things about being a stay at home mom is the ability to simplify. Despite a long list of allergies and not being able to use convenience foods like bread and cheese, I cook as simply as possible in order to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen. ( I still spend a lot though…:) I pick the easiest things to make on a limited budget.

    3. Simplify cleaning as much as possible. I have had to come to peace with not deep cleaning as I would like. Good rags make the job go faster. (check out speed cleaning website for the best rags- I recommend their red juice as well for good fast cleaning.)

    3. Simplify homeschooling. Simplify everything.

    4. Don’t compare what you can do to others…

    5. Don’t do any extra activities you don’t enjoy. With low energy and time, prioritizing your fun as well as your work is important.

    6. Simplify your service to others. I have learned to try to do hospitality as simply as possible. I try to cook easy things (that also fit the budget and the allergies!)

    7. Eat as healthily as possible. I totally avoid refined sugar. I rarely eat a dessert. I need every ounce of strength I have to take care of my children. Eating has to be a plus and not a drain on my system.

    These things help me get my sleep and function when I am awake. 🙂

    • Melissa says:

      More things…

      Wear the same thing several days in a row. Saves the time of thinking about what to wear.

      Stay away from draining people. You need your strength and time.

      Pray about what your priorities should be.

      Don’t try to keep up with the other mothers. Oh well if you don’t craft or make fancy birthday cakes or parties or don’t decorate your house or go on all kinds of outings.. All that really matters to kids is true love and kindness.

  • One of the things that helps me the most is that I set my phone on nighttime hours starting at 8 or 9 PM. Once it goes on nighttime hours, it won’t let any calls through except from my emergency list, and it won’t vibrate or sound when texts, emails, Facebook comments, etc come through. This helps SO much after I go to bed, because it’s hard for me to say no if someone wants to talk or text. But with nighttime hours, I just don’t know about it until I wake up and look at my phone on purpose! 🙂

  • Carla says:

    I need more sleep during certain times than I do other times because of some weird health issues. That means that sometimes I need a nap every single day for days on end, and other times I don’t need one for weeks. It is nearly impossible for me to get to sleep before my husband goes to bed, though. And he’s one of those guys that has an optimal sleep time of just over 6 hours. Even at the best of times I need more than that! It’s impossible for me to sleep through him getting up in the morning no matter how hard he tries to be quiet. So I get up and do my alone time things then (Bible study, praying, etc). Then go back to sleep for another hour or two until my son gets up. I only have one child, and he is nine. I feel no shame whatsoever in napping while he does language workbooks and math sometimes. He also knows that if he finishes in less than an hour he can watch something educational on the roku until I wake up. We still have plenty of time to get the rest of his school work done, and all of our other priorities. And when I am well rested things go smoother and we have more fun so it is definitely worth it to both of us.

  • Ashley says:

    I actually need 9 hours of sleep every night in order to feel my best. As soon as my babies start sleeping through the night, I make this a priority.

  • Angela says:

    I try all the tricks for insomnia to no avail. Even when I make sure to eat right and exercise I have problems sleeping. I’m exhausted all the time, and allopathic doctors just want to put me on sleep meds. I feel somewhat better without sleep than on meds. I’m at my wits end. I wish I could afford a functional doctor to find out the cause and treat it. 😞

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