What Is The Price of...

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What Is The Price of Sleep?

February 15, 2015

$70.38. That’s what it has cost me over the past 30 days. My daughter recently turned three-years-old and has never been a “good sleeper.” Oh, we’ve had a month here and there where everyone gets a solid night of sleep. A solid night of sleep that makes me throw open the curtains in the morning because surely there must be a double rainbow in the sky and birds singing in harmony–that’s how great I feel. So, yes, I’ll gladly pay $70.38 to recreate that feeling night after night.

We’ve tried nightlights, no nightlights, special pajamas, music, white noise, charts, but at this given moment; it’s all about pure bribery. For every 10 nights she stays in bed, she gets a Stuffie of her choice. Not familiar with a Stuffie, you say? Google it and prepare to get their theme song stuck in your head. Basically, they’re oversized stuffed animals with pockets all over them for holding a child’s priceless possessions.

And you know what? It has made a difference. There are still the occasional nights where I am stumbling into her room at 3 am, but we seem to be stringing together nights of at least seven blissful hours of sleep. So, for now, we’ll stick with it. Because, like so many, I’ve been on the other side. Initially in my daughter’s life, I recall making it through the day with no more than a couple hours of sleep patched together here and there. And I would think to myself that I felt gray around the edges.

Suffering from sleep deprivation (let’s call it what it is), affects everything and it turns out, a lot of us, too. According to a study conducted by the CDC last year, 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or sleep deprivation.” In that same study, it was found more than one-third of adults average less than 7 hours of sleep per night. (“Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014).

If you feel like you fall into any of those reported groups and your first waking thought is how good it will feel to go back to sleep a mere 15 hours from now–don’t underestimate the effects of your sleep loss. (And can we stop for a second and reflect on how many people that is? How many people are making it through the day with gray edges?). There is increasing data about the effects of sleep deprivation, like: it may contribute to symptoms of depression, it ages your skin, could put you at risk for heart disease and stroke, may lead to less interest in sex, and could be linked to weight gain because, cruelty of all cruelties, sleep loss may be related to an increase in hunger and appetitive. (Feature, Camille PeriWebMD. “10 Surprising Effects of Lack of Sleep.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 14 Sept, 2014).

I may not be saying anything you haven’t heard before, and if you are sleep deprived and reading this, I may very well be annoying the hell out of you (and if you are running on fumes, well done for making it this far in the post!). You’ve heard it all before, but this time, let it resonate. And let me be the one to tell you, sleep matters. You, and your ability to function at 100%, matters.

If Stuffies aren’t your thing, there are steps you can take to get a great night of sleep. Trying sticking to a somewhat regular sleep schedule, with the same simple routine each night. Take a little time to make your room comfortable–a good pillow, dark-out shades, some white noise, can all go a long way. (“Seven Tips to Better Sleep.” The Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic, 9 June 2014. Web 17 Sept. 2014). Another tip I’ve been trying to incorporate lately is not checking my phone right up until I go to bed. Something about having at least 30 minutes for my mind to unplug seems to make falling asleep a bit easier. And of course, if you feel like you often have trouble sleeping and nothing is helping, definitely seek out your doctor. You deserve a morning of double rainbows, chirping birds, and crisp, clear edges too! Sweet dreams!

A mother and young child sleeping in bed representing how you can benefit from La Grange mental health services.

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