Let’s get this out of the way so we can go on to talk about the good stuff, shall we?
FTC Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Beautyrest for this campaign…but the zzz’s contained herein are all my own.
Good, that’s out of the way. Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty here. I have a question for you.
DO YOU GET ENOUGH SLEEP?
Hahaha! THAT WAS A TRICK QUESTION! You’re a parent, so of course you don’t! That’s why coffee is so delicious. It’s full of vitamin ‘keeps me from falling asleep’ or something.
So, we know you’re not getting enough sleep. But what exactly does that mean? If we’re to believe the internet and meme culture, we’re supposed to subsist on coffee, nap envy and wine. That can’t be good, right? If you’re like most parents, you throw sleep on the back burner. I remember it really starting back in high school. Finals.
I was unlucky enough to have a full-time job on top of school. So, when finals time came around, my soda consumption went through the roof, and sleep was just a luxury. I remember staying up until 3 AM working on homework because I didn’t get home from work until aroun 11 PM or so. The reason I stopped at 3 AM was because my mom woke up around 4 AM and I didn’t need her breathing down my neck about still being up.
I had to get up at 6 AM to get ready for school. So, on average I was getting about 3 hours of sleep per night. On the weekends, depending on what I was doing with my friends, I might spend Saturday night playing D&D until the early morning hours. So, that usually left Sunday night for me to ‘catch up’ on my zzz’s. Which usually meant, I was getting a whopping 6 hours.
That became the norm, and I just sailed through life saying I only needed 4 hours of sleep per night. And while I was young, that wasn’t so bad. But then I got older and then we had kids and then…I started mainlining coffee because I just wasn’t cutting it on 4 hours a night. I even bumped it up to 5 or six hours on occasion, but rarely more than that. And with the kids getting up at all hours, it was never more than two or three contiguous hours. I started drinking so much coffee that I almost got nerve damage.
THE DRINK THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED
I used to stop by my local Starbucks on my way to work every morning. I always got a venti Doubleshot. (That’s 5 shots of espresso for those keeping track at home.) Then, they came out the the trenta size. So, one day I asked if they could make me a trenta Doubleshot. The lady behind the register just stared at me in horror before slowly shaking her head and telling me that she couldn’t do that.
The manager stepped in and said that she’s not supposed to, but she’d make an exception for me, since I was a daily regular. So, I got a trenta Doubleshot. (That’s 7 shots of glorious espresso in a cup.) And it did the trick! I was able to get through my workday and function on minuscule sleep. I had found my panacea! The only problem was that I was unable to actually order a trenta sized Doubleshot. So we came up with a name for it. It was the Voldemort. For the ‘Drink That Shall Not Be Named’. It was great fun ordering it every morning.
Then, one day I had the bright idea of ordering one on the way home because I knew I had a tired wife and rambunctious toddler waiting for me when I got home. It solved all of my problems! Until it didn’t. I was waking up several times a night with electricity shooting down one arm and the only thing that would stop it from tingling was to shake it around. Then, one day on a whim I looked up the amount of caffeine I was ingesting in a day and then looked up the thing happening with my arm, and it scared me. It scared me enough to go see my doctor. When I explained that I was downing around 14 shots of espresso per day, she asked if I wanted nerve damage. Because that’s what I was heading towards.
D’oh! So, I cut back on the caffeine. But I didn’t get any more sleep.
I say, ‘Enter’, like I just got it. No, I’ve grown up with ADD just being part of ‘me’. But when I got older, my brain started changing channels way faster than I could cope with. Things that I could normally work on were horribly time consuming because I was suddenly unable to re-route myself around the distractions. I remember a cartoon from when I was a kid. The bears were supposed to help clean up the trash from the park before they could eat. They, sectioned off the park and all of the bears dumped their trash into this one bear’s square. They got to eat and he was running back and forth hyperventilating and freaking out while unsuccessfully getting his area clean. That’s what I felt like. 24/7.
Long story short, I saw a psychiatrist. They put me on stimulants. And they sort of worked. I had started to lower my caffeine intake even more because I didn’t want to explode or vibrate through my chair or anything. But one thing stayed the same: I wasn’t sleeping very much. I didn’t need to! I’m a machine who thrives on 3 or 4 hours a night! My doctor told me that maybe I should up my sleep quantity, because I wasn’t sleeping nearly enough. Pffft! Whatever.
After a few more months of slogging through life, hating myself because of my ADHD and feeling like my brain was against me, I watched some video where they were talking about how not sleeping can affect your skin. Since hitting 40, I’ve battled acne more than I did as a kid. So I challenged myself to sleep 8 hours every night for a week to see what happened.
MY LIFE CHANGED
Seriously, it sounds like an exaggeration, but I noticed that my ADHD wasn’t nearly so bad. I wasn’t getting frazzled by simple questions. I wasn’t yelling at the boys so much. I was, in short, a better parent. I was a better person. After that, I changed. I started going to bed at 1 AM instead of 3 AM. I still wasn’t getting a full 8 hours a night, but I was getting like 5 or 6 and that was a miracle!
Now, how does the Beautyrest SleepTracker monitor come in? Well, while I was getting 5 or 6 hours a night, I thought, that I could do better. When I was filling out my profile, it asked what my target sleep was. I shot for the moon and said 7 hours. More sleep per night than I’ve normally gotten since I was in middle school.
It asked me what time I wanted to get up in the morning. Since I have to take the kids to school every morning, I put my normal wake-up time in. Now, I get an alert from the bed that tells me if I want to get my full sleep in, I’d better head to bed. I’ve had to ignore it a few nights now…and I’ve noticed a significant difference in how I’ve felt the next day on each occasion. I’m now finding myself WAY less likely to sit up and binge watch shows on Netflix until the wee hours just because it’s quiet and I can.
I find myself beginning to look forward to bed time so that I can see if I beat my previous night’s score.
Every morning, I’m awakened by a gentle Smart Alarm that goes off at the optimal time within the 30 minutes before my scheduled wake up time. On the three nights that I’ve ignored my alert and stayed up late, it’s gone off at the last possible minute which tells me that I wasn’t ready to wake up yet, because I stayed up too late and hadn’t got enough rest in. But usually, the alarm goes off about 15 minutes earlier than it’s set for and I’ve not once got angry and hit the snooze button for ‘just 5 more minutes’.
Every morning before I even get out of bed, my phone asks me how my sleep was. Then it shows me graphs of when I was deep sleeping, REM sleep, or just light sleeping. Then it takes that and whether or not I hit my sleep goal and gives me a Sleep Score. And I’m just competitive enough to want to beat it on the next night. This makes me even less likely to ignore that alert telling me to go to bed. This entire thing has made me more mindful of my sleep.
No longer do I push sleep off to the back burner. I bring it front and center. Because, as I’ve got more sleep each night, I’ve noticed that most days just seem to flow a bit better. I get my chill back. Things don’t bother me as much. Sure, there’s still stress and there’s still the occasional moment when I think I’m about to lose my mind (up in here, up in here). But that’s part of being a parent. That’s part of life. I just notice that those times are fewer and further in between.
I know what you’re thinking. And it’s not! It took me longer to type in my ridiculously long wifi password than it did to finish the actual setup. I got it all setup on my phone, then when my wife downloaded the app to her phone, I sent her a ‘quick add’ code and BOOM. She was already in the system. Now we both get individual reports on our sleep activity.
So, why do I sleep?
#ISleepTo be a better dad and be a better husband. My family deserves it. And, frankly, I deserve it!
Want more information on the Beautyrest SleepTracker monitor?
Sleeptracker website: http://www.beautyrest.com/Sleeptracker