Do you guys know each other? Have you met before?
Maybe you did a loooong time ago, or maybe you were never even acquaintances. I know that, in some groups, being too friendly with sleep can be frowned upon or even ridiculed, so I wouldn’t be too shocked if you haven’t really gotten a chance to meet.
But really, dear reader -- I think you ought to give sleep a chance. She’s really here to help - promise! - and once you get to know her, you’ll find she’s quite a lovely friend to have.
In fact, you may just realize that when you thought things were fine without her, it was simply that you were used to living like a Mombie. Because yes, you really DO need Sleep. And yes, you really CAN have it.
You Need Sleep
It never fails to sadden me to see how dismissive Western culture at large is of sleep. In our world, it takes on another shade of meaning because we really have gedolim who don’t need sleep (they’re not really living within the boundaries of טבע, so, among other natural boundaries, sleep deprivation simply does not affect them the way it affects us).
For nearly every single human being that lives and has lived, though, sleep is a necessity. Not a luxury, not something nice to have, not something that the “strong” don’t need. It’s a basic necessity.
Many many things happen when you sleep -- it’s your body’s repair and refresh time. You’ll use that time to categorize new things you learned and store them in long-term memory; any cuts or scrapes or burns that you got will get a boost in healing; and, most importantly of all: your brain does a cleanup.
We all build up toxins in our brain during the time that we’re awake, and when we’re asleep, the channels that those toxins are in actually widen, and allow your brain’s cleaning fluid to flush the system out.
You know that fuzzy feeling you get when you’re sleep deprived? And you know that glorious, clear-headed feeling you get when you’re well rested? That’s the difference between toxins and no toxins. So trust me - you want them gone.
Some people feel selfish getting sleep: “but my kids need me!” “but mothering is a 24/7 job!” “what, so I should be off-duty just because it’s nighttime?”
If you feel that way - that’s okay and normal. But I encourage you to ask yourself: are you really being selfless? Sometimes, not getting the sleep you actually need can be selfish, too.
You need sleep so that you can be you. So that you can be the most present, highest functioning, loving, caring, doting, energetic, calm person that you can be. For yourself, your husband, your children, and, really, to do your avodas Hashem.
Without sleep, we all live on a shorter fuse - and may also live a shorter life. Not only is our quality of life day-to-day greatly diminished, due to decreased ability to make rational decisions, general feeling of overwhelm, etc., but we actually increase the risk for illness, dementia and earlier death. Yes, really. (And that’s without even mentioning the fact that sleep deprivation does the same things to our brains as alcohol does -- so driving is probably not a safe activity when you’re sleep deprived, either!)
In a nutshell: we need sleep to be functioning human beings.
Yep, I know. When you have a never-ending list of things to do, newborns (or infants and toddlers and beyond!) that keep you up at night, perhaps a job or two outside the home as well, and social obligations, family obligations, just wanting some time to yourself - it’s a long list.
And all those things take time. There’re only 24 hours in a day -- and you should be sleeping for at least 8 of them…
So how can you actually get yourself to sleep well?
First, brainstorm. Sit down with a pen and paper and another person and just toss out ideas. Don’t shoot anything down just yet -- write even the ludicrous things that come to mind.
Write write write.
After 10-15 minutes, go through your list and pare it down - what’s doable, what’s not, what can you stretch a little to accommodate?
Second - try it out. Tweak, adjust as necessary.
And let us know in the comments how it goes for you!