Getting to bed on time is hard work

I need my sleep. I think I do best with about 7.5 hours of sleep per night. If I’m not massively sleep deprived, and asleep by 11, I’ll wake up on my own around 6:30 a.m.

For much of this summer, however, my baby daughter has been waking quite early — but not at a predictable time. I think of it as baby roulette. Some mornings she’s been up between 6:30-7, but more often, it’s been 5:30-6, and 5 a.m. happens frequently enough not to be discounted. On vacation it was 4:30, but thankfully she gave that up on returning home. I tend to cover the early shift because the baby wants to nurse first thing — and over the past two months has decided that she will have nothing to do with either bottles or formula. If I’m traveling, she’ll consent to cereal and water in a cup, eventually, but if I’m home, I can’t sleep well while listening to her fuss about it. And once I get up to feed her, I’m generally up. So to get 7.5 hours of sleep before a 5:30 wake-up, I need to get to bed around 10 pm.

This is certainly possible — I am seldom doing anything particularly important after 10 p.m. I get my boys to bed at 9, and then I can work for 45 minutes or so to crank out whatever didn’t get finished by 6 p.m. But come 10 p.m. I realize that I don’t want to go to bed. The hours between 10-11:30 p.m. or so are quite pleasant. It’s time for reading or (over the last few weeks) watching the Olympics, or surfing the web, or sitting with a glass of wine on the back porch, or whatever. It’s tough to give that me-time up.

The problem is that if I stay up until 11:30 p.m., then hit a 5:00 a.m. wake-up on the baby roulette wheel the next day, I will pay for it. So here are a few of my solutions.

1. Stay up late every other night. Sometimes if I stay up until 11:30, I’m lucky, and the baby sleeps until close to 7. But if I’m not lucky, and she’s up closer to 5, I’m so tired the next night that I’m not as tempted to do late night loafing. If I go to bed that night at 10:30, sometimes I get lucky the next morning and sleep until 6:30. If I get 8 hours of sleep, I won’t be tired until 11:30 (or later). So it comes out in the wash.

2. Bargain with myself. While I’d like 7.5 hours of sleep, 7 is entirely doable. So if I’m reading a good book at 10, I’ll tell myself that I can read until 10:45 instead of 10:15, as long as I go to bed right then.

3. Try to grab me-time during the day. I’ve seen various surveys, and enough time logs to know that people in normal offices waste vast quantities of time. If I want to read a magazine for 20 minutes during the workday, earth won’t crash into the sun.

4. Travel for work. I’m mostly kidding, but not entirely. One major upside of staying in a hotel by myself is knowing that, if I set the alarm for 7:15 to make a 8:30 meeting, in all likelihood, I will not be woken up before then.

5. Hang on until winter. Darker mornings make it easier for everyone to sleep in. Plus, I think back to summer of 2011, when I got in the habit of running in the morning before my kids woke up (chronicled in What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast). Back then, I was setting my alarm for 6:20 to run. While these days it’s rare for me not to be up and feeding the baby by 6:20 a.m., this suggests that by next summer — when my baby is the age my middle child was then — I’ll be back to getting up when I choose in the morning, all without having to get to bed before 11 p.m.

Do you give yourself a bedtime? Can you stick with it?

In other news: Cloud of Wandering Scientist is blogging about tracking her hours, the fragmented nature of her weekend time, and the difficulty of choosing a “typical” week (the week you land in urgent care with an asthma attack may not be it).

Photo courtesy flickr user myphotosshare blogspot

6 thoughts on “Getting to bed on time is hard work

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I’m hoping to track time for more than a week this time- I’d like to keep going for months, if I can, to build up an average picture. I’ve got some really big deadlines coming up at work, so it would be interesting to see the before, during and after of that. I’m not sure my current time tracking system will be easy enough for that. I’ve got a smartphone on the way, so I may look for a timecharging app to use, instead. We’ll see. And of course, I’ll probably end up blogging about what I learn, regardless of how long I go!

    As for your question about going to bed early… I wish I had a good answer! My biggest issue in this regard is my husband, who needs far less sleep than I do and is often just ready to unwind at the time when I should really be heading to bed. We’ve set aside Friday night for “us time” to help with that- I get to sleep in on Saturday. Well, in that parental “7:30 is sleeping in now” sort of way!

  2. Yes, it IS hard work. My major problem is that I, like my kids, have difficulty falling asleep at night, even if I am exhausted (actually sometimes worse when I’m over-tired!). The act of going up to bed, changing clothes, and brushing teeth gives me a second wind, and then I end up awake for 30-45 more minutes. So then, I have to go up much much earlier then I want to be asleep, which makes the evening that much shorter… Like Cloud, my husband has lower sleep needs & wants to hang out when I’m ready to call it a night…I like the idea of setting aside a couple of nights for “us time” & then sleeping in the next morning. After the baby stops nursing, of course. We are also having “baby roulette” with our 10-month-old, but his includes middle-of-the-night rousings, too, not nightly but enough to keep us exhausted! But he is incredibly cute at this age, so we forgive him 🙂

  3. This is one of those things I fear when the new baby shows up. Right now I’m managing ok because even if I stay up late for me-time, hubby takes the morning shift w/ the 2yo. (And said 2yo usually only wakes around 6:45-7 which is even ok for me.)

    If I’m serious about getting to bed earlier, a couple of things I do are:

    1. Make sure the toddler’s bedtime isn’t sliding later and later, as it tends to do if we’re not vigilant. This means our “me” or “we time” starts earlier.

    2. Put bedtime prep on my calendar, as well as bedtime. Sounds ridiculous, but when I get the reminder 30 min before to do the before bed stuff (vitamins, brush teeth, get read for next day) then it’s easier to actually get to bed at the right time.

    3. No Internet/TV past 9pm or so as it messes with getting to sleep, but also sucks time away from other things I *want* to do.

  4. Daytime naps do wonders!!!
    Normally after lunch but whenever the eyelids speak I listen. 20-30 minutes average in a “reclined” position, no alarms, and I pop right up refreshed.
    I emphasize reclined because I often have discussions with friends who say they cannot take short naps. The mistake they all make is getting in bed. DO NOT!!! Don’t even lie on the couch. Lying down is sleeping not napping.
    Try this and see if it works for you 🙂

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