Save In Your Sleep!



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“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

      -Matthew 11:28

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep… We hear it all the time– You must get 8 hours of sleep and 8 glasses of water a day. We pay as much attention to that warning as our children do when we tell them for the umpteenth time “Don’t play with that or you will get hurt”. But after living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 15 plus years, I have learned the hard way how very important sleep is.

It is so important that God devoted 8-10 hours each and every day to sleeping and one whole day a week to resting. Think about it. Is there anything else that He gave so much time to? And since He knew we were like silly little children who refuse to take a nap, He put resting in the 10 commandments hoping that that would really get our attention. There were only 10 things that made it on that all important list and resting was one of them.

Sleep is as necessary to life as food and water. Each of us needs to realize how much lack of sleep affects our whole life. Are we too tired to clean the house, fix meals, or do the laundry? Are we so tired that when our children come to us for our help with something, we snap at them or when our spouses want some snuggle time, we look at them like they have grown two heads?

Lack of sleep affects children even more than adults and yet many of us let them keep the same late hours as the adults. When I was a young mom I was told that children usually whine and cry for one of two reasons: They are tired or hungry. If you keep them well rested, and make sure they get snacks throughout the day, you will eliminate most of their whining and crying. I have found that to be so true.

I had an example of that happen just the other day. My three year old grandson is always so good about going down for his nap. He allows himself to be picked up, passed around for kisses and then laid down without a peep. The other day, however, when he was told it was time for his nap he said “NO! I don’t want a nap,” and fought all the way to bed.

This seemed so out of character for him but then it dawned on me: He always takes his nap at 12:00 but this day, he did some running around with his dad and by the time they were done, it was almost 2:30. He was tired, so there was no reasoning with him. He couldn’t think rationally because he was tired. What often happens is that the parent gets angry at the child for throwing a fit, but it was really the parent’s fault for not allowing the child to get his proper rest.

We adults act the same way when we are tired. We become irritable, impatient, discouraged and depressed. No one can reason with us. We start acting just like that tired child and usually don’t realize it. Exhaustion also affects us physically. Your doctor will tell you that people tend to catch more viruses when they are tired and our bodies simply don’t work at 100 percent. We start seeing the world through a hazy fog and everything becomes a burden.

Have I painted a clear enough picture for you? Does that describe the way you feel most of the time (maybe even right now)? Then you need to get serious about your family’s sleeping habits.

 

Here are some tips to help you get your family the sleep it needs:

  1. If you are a new mom or a mom with sick children, you may have to let some things go for a season. Just accept it and scale back your activities. I discovered this many years ago when I had an 18 month old and a newborn with colic. My oldest would be up 3-4 times each night and my newborn was up most of the night just crying. If I had two hours of sleep, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

On the rare occasions when they would take a nap at the same time, I made the mistake of trying to get really dumb things done, like iron my children’s pajamas and tee shirts, instead of taking a nap. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to become seriously ill with walking pneumonia, which lasted three months.

Learn from my mistakes and take a nap when you can, even if it means hiring a babysitter to watch the kids at home while you sleep. If you think you don’t have the money to hire a babysitter you might want to think again. Which is cheaper, a babysitter or doctor bills?

Keep your meals as simple as possible If all you can manage for a few months is sandwiches, make sandwiches. The same applies to cleaning the house. Do only the necessary cleaning and upkeep. This is not the time for spring cleaning. Even if you have to let the dusting and vacuuming go for a while, the rest will help you more.

  • Give yourself permission to take a nap or, if you have to, make yourself take a nap. You say you don’t have the time, but most people can find serious improvement with even 20 minutes’ rest to refresh themselves. Find the time. Make your shower 10 minutes shorter or get rid of one of your non essential activities during the day like shopping, volunteer work, killing time on the computer or talking on the phone. If you work, take an alarm with you to work and take a quick nap in your car. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Find that 20 minutes some place.
  • Make your children take a nap. Up until first grade, on the days my kids weren’t in school, they always took a nap. When they were older and for whatever reason stayed up late the night before, I made them at least lie down and rest the next day.

    No matter how old they are, children need some daily down time. If they were too old for naps, I would send them to their rooms for 30 minutes each day during the summer to read, color or do some quiet activity. This not only helped them rest, but it separated them from their siblings and me. No matter how much you love each other, living in the same house 24/7, you will get on each others nerves if you never get a break. This gives everyone a break.

  • Have a regular bedtime routine. Whether it is bath time, story time, prayer time or just tucking the kids in with hugs and kisses, have a routine. When you are tucking the children in, give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes to talk to them. That is one of the best times of day to find out about things they have on their minds. Why? Because they are relaxed and they will use every stall tactic known to man to keep from going to bed, even if that means talking to mom and dad.

    Make sure that they have a regular bed time and stick to it. This is very important! Children have their own built in clocks. When you wake them up and put them to bed at different times every day it causes their biological clocks to go haywire. They need to get at least 10 hours of sleep a night. That means putting them to bed at a decent time. Up until they started high school, my children always went to bed at 8:30. That may seem hard to believe but I didn’t have near the problem with attitudes, whining, sulking or outright rebellion that a lot of parents had to deal with.

    I don’t know how many moms over the years came to me tearing their hair out saying “I don’t know what is wrong with my child but he won’t stop whining or throwing tantrums.” I knew exactly what the problem was. Mom had taken them to her Bible study the night before and didn’t get home until 10:00. She then dragged the child out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to get ready before they left for school and work. The day before that the child got to sleep in until 11:00. You may think that irregular sleeping hours doesn’t affect your child but you might be surprised to find that at least 50 percent of whining and fussing would stop if the kids had regular hours.

    One thing to keep in mind is that when you start putting children to bed at an earlier than usual time, you will have to start slowly. If the children are used to going to bed at 10:30 or 11:00 at night, don’t suddenly make them go to bed at 8:30. Start at 10:00 for a few nights then move it up to 9:30 and so on until you reach the bedtime you want.

    Don’t forget to adjust for daylight savings time or if you will be traveling between time zones. A week or so before the change, start putting the kids to bed 15 minutes earlier or later so the can start adjusting to the new time.

    Adults need regular bedtime routines, too. As much as possible, try to have a set time that you go to bed each night. An hour or two before you go to bed, try to start unwinding. This is the time to talk over your day with your spouse, read a good book, or sip a hot cup of cocoa. It is also a good time to take a warm bath. Not only will it relax you, but it will be one less thing to do in the morning. If you are a new mom you probably don’t need to unwind because you will fall asleep the minute you sit down, so just go to bed while you can.

  • Make your room and your children’s rooms as comfortable as possible. Make your bed in the morning. A made bed is so much more inviting then a rumpled mess, where you have to clear off loads of junk before you can crawl into it. Keep a low wattage bedside lamp on your night stand to start letting your body know it’s getting close to time for bed.

    Keep your room at a pleasant temperature. Be sure to check the temperature in your children’s rooms too. Sometimes when babies and young children have their bedroom doors shut, their rooms can be different temperatures than the rest of the house. This can then cause them to wake up because they are too hot or cold. This can also be the reason if they are having a hard time getting to sleep. Soft music or a fan that helps to drown out background noises are good for children and adults alike.

 

Since we usually write about getting out of debt, you may wonder how being well rested can help save you money? How often do you go out to eat because you are too tired to fix dinner? When something breaks, do you just go buy a new one because you are too tired to fix it? Do you buy more clothes then you really need because you are too tired to keep up with the laundry? Do you just say “yes” all the time to your children when they ask to buy something because you are too tired to fight with them? Trust me the little monkeys are smart. They know when the enemy is tired and weak and that’s usually when they attack! So if you want to win the war you need to get some sleep!

-Jill

 

Comments

  1. Heather says

    This is really important – we need sleep! I don’t know why, but a lot of people in our country are proud of the fact that they can sleep 4-5 hours a night. They think they are fine, but they are not – it can make you sick. Anxiety and depression get worse if a person isn’t getting enough rest.

    If you cannot sleep due to insomnia, still try to get into bed at the same time each night, and listen to soothing music. It is still rest. Also – a lot of us are sensitive to caffeine and don’t know it. Again, people brag that they don’t need sleep and can live on coffee, but it’s really hard on the body. Try to go completely off caffeine for one whole month, and see if it helps your sleep patterns and energy level.

    • says

      To right Heather that is why I wrote this. I also have found out how important sleep is now that I have an illness where sleep is sometimes impossible. Even today I heard a man say that your hair grows and renews itself at night while you are sleeping and often when people’s hair falls out they don’t realize it can be from lack of sleep. I have to agree with him. One of the first things which happen to Tawra and I both when we first got sick was our hair started falling out. It could be from other things but lack of sleep was probably part of that.

  2. says

    In some parts of our wonderful country an hourly Siesta is required. When we were at a conference in New Mexico and had an hourly rest after lunch each day. It was wonderful. I felt refreshed and slept very well each night.

  3. Ann says

    Awesome, down to earth & great advice. At 72:I’ve raised two sons, had a career, gone to College, had a business & been active in my Church. Often several of these things: overlapped one another.
    A child who isn’t tired, hungry nor in pain is a lot easier to get along with than a child who is tired/overly tired, hungry or hurting. (This applies to adults too.) Addressing the child’s needs in an appropriate/timely manner, makes life easier for everyone. Good nutrition, enough rest & exercise are the cornerstones to good physical health. Healthy is far less expensive than sickly.
    Thanks for this great article.

  4. susan says

    Great article. My drs. have told me that if I would rest at least 1 hr a day it would be beneficial. you are so right about keeping kids on a schedule. God bless you all

  5. Pat says

    I have been watching the series on public television about “Wartime Farm” produced by the BBC. It is about Englands Struggle during the 2nd world war and the hardships and struggles the farmers endured and worked with to supply more food for the country as ship loads of food no longer came into port. ( Ships were being used instead to transport items for the war, and personel. Also many were sunk).
    They made many of the things they wore, and used in daily living, and I have learnt so much from this series. Remarkable just how deprived a people can be and yet rise above it and have a good life. They lived reduce, re-use, re-cycle and then do it all over again! Some of the items that were shown that I was impressed with was making of cottage cheese with sour milk. Using the flour sacks for dresses ( I know this was still done when I was little, just after the war). Also quilts hand made making little pockets the same size filling them, and then stitching the works together to make a quilt … the stuffing couldn’t all clump in one spot as each little pocket was a complete unit. Even to making baskets for everyday use and soap from what fat ( in short supply) they could save, to finding Bear Berry bushes to use them for washing.
    They also showed some foraging, for maintaining their fresh produce. And turning every bit of available space into production for food, for people, and animals. They even had pig clubs. They would get a young pig, and raise it on just garden and kitchen scraps. They had 4 families participate. 1/2 the pig the government took for the soup kitchens, and the other 1/2 they divided between the 4 families….. They were even happy to do that to expand their war rations. They also grew rabbits to help extend their meat rations and for a quick source of meat.
    Well worth the time I have spent watching, very eye opening to how much we have. Even things we use everyday now were brought into use to make work easier for the woman so she could work outside the home and pick up where the men used to work, but now were at war.
    I could keep going for sure, but we have so much, even when we think we have nothing! As my dh always says, You’ve got a roof over your head, a bed to sleep on, a table and chairs to eat at, and food and water to drink. Your wealthy! ( he grew up with dirt floors and no running water).

    • says

      What you say is so true. I’m afraid that is why I become frustrated sometimes when I have someone write in and whine about how they won’t be able to take a vacation, can’t have their kids in as many school activities, how they can’t live without a cell phone or a brand new car in these hard economic times. I go to bed every night so thankful that I have a soft warm bed to sleep in and a thermostat I can use to turn my heat up to even 60 degrees in the morning. We don’t have a clue what it means to do without or make do.

      When you were talking about the food supply I read something not to long ago that said you need to know what weeds grow in your yard and whether you can eat them or not in case of an emergency. Things like dandelions. That was a good tip that you don’t hear of too often. Now I’m not planning on digging a bomb shelter in the near future or anything but I really think we need to learn more basic life skills. It would give many of us more confidence and get rid of some fears.

  6. Pat says

    whoops, sorry, sleep wasn’t the area I thought I was posting at!
    You sure need sleep for health, and we don’t get enough.

  7. Lisa says

    STUPENDOUS. I’ve also never understood how people can brag about how little sleep they can get by with. Thank you SO much Jill and Tawra.

  8. Rachel says

    As I am writing this, I am so sleepy and tired! It’s 10 a.m. Like Tawra I have fibromyalgia. I started experiencing exhaustion and pain about ten years ago. Everyday is the big question- how do I do what needs to be done and not overdo? You are so right Jill, many things are just not that important. Today I will have to let the vaccuming and dusting go, also the bathrooms. I’m going to put a soup in the crock pot, unload the dishwasher, and go to the grocery store. If I feel like it, I will go to church tonight. I no longer push myself. I accept each day for what it is, a gift from God. BTW, my two oldest kids went to bed at 8:30 every night until they were in high school too. My youngest has always been a night owl.

    • says

      I feel your pain Rachel – literally. : ) I was laughing yesterday when I told my neighbor I was exhausted because I had just finished vacuuming my bedroom. She was laughing too because I have a Roomba vacuum so all I really did was set him on the floor and push a button. 30 minutes latter my floor is clean. I don’t know how I ever cleaned my floor before my Roomba. If I visit Tawra’s and have to use her vacuum I feel I have traveled back in time to the ancient days when they would push a vacuum around.

      My grand kids laugh at me because I told them I loved watching the Jetsons when I was little but I always remember thinking “There is no way they will ever be able to make a vacuum that runs by it’s self and I will never ever talk on a phone where they can see me.” Guess what I have a robot vacuum and 75% of the time when I talk to the grand kids it is always on skype.

      Sorry for rambling. It sounds like you are learning the secret to living with your illness and that is pacing yourself. Hang in there because I know it can be discouraging and hard.

  9. grizzly bear mom says

    Even GOD! rested on the 7th day, and JESUS! slept. We need sleep to remain healthy, heal, grow, and avoid obesity. So if you want to be a good steward of your body and love your husband, get adequate sleep.

    • says

      I will have to show this comment to my kids and grand kids Therese. They are always teasing me about being insane so now I have proof I’m not. : )

  10. HZlove says

    Sleep, sweet sleep! I’m the person who loves 8 hours of sleep a night and enjoys a 15 minute nap in the afternoon. People always laugh at me for “sleeping” so much, but I don’t care anymore. It is my body & I know what it needs to function. I’m a hard worker when I am awake. I may not be involved in lots of activities, but that doesn’t bother me. I like down time to relax.

  11. Mary Jane says

    With a strong family history of mood disorders, depression and anxiety, I have learned through experience the role that fatigue can and does play in keeping us off center. I was an adult before I learned about the things that I could do to alleviate my suffering, and I thank God for helping me learn and apply what I know. However, one day I was struck by the wisdom of my then 7 year old grand daughter. I was talking to her younger brother about his need to take a short nap, so that he would be ready for some exciting events later on in the day. I asked him, “Do you know what happens when you need a nap and you don’t take it?”, expecting a response along the line that his parents would be disappointed. My grand daughter responded with “You will feel sad.” How true. I was stunned by her simplistic but profound insight.

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