07/19/2024

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To get some alone time or quiet moments, people – especially moms – are sacrificing sleep to stay sane and staying up into the wee hours of the morning to squeeze in some “me time.

It even has a name: “revenge bedtime procrastination.

So why are moms especially willing to give up a good night’s rest? “In a word, silence,” Jory Varney, a Kansas registered nurse, author and mother of two, told Yahoo Life. “In other words, there’s no obligation after bedtime. Every decision I make and task I complete – or don’t complete – is done for me.”

Varney shared that she “works very hard to protect that time and keep it to myself” and usually spends it reading, watching “binge” TV or “mindlessly” scrolling through social media. scrolling on social media.

“Sure, some nights I’ll do things for my kids – like laundry the next day or snacks for a class party – but I can listen to podcasts or watch shows without interruption,” Varney says. . “This one is my redeeming feature at the end of the day. I look forward to it every day and plan what I’m going to have for a late-night snack or drink. It’s as close to a vacation as you can get on a Thursday night, and I love it!”

Writer and mom of three boys Katy Anderson echoed Varney’s holiday sentiments, writing on Mom.com that staying up late while the rest of the family sleeps “is like a mini-vacation, a day after I desperately need one almost completely dedicated to meeting the needs of others. “

Another mom, Lisa Sadikman, shared on Scary Moms, “Most nights, my desire for ‘me time’ is stronger than my desperate need for a full night’s sleep.” The writer and mom of three girls describes a quiet house, usually achieved only after everyone has gone to bed, as her “personal version of nirvana.

Why moms are particularly fond of “revenge bedtime procrastination”
The term “bedtime procrastination” was coined by behavioral scientist Floor M. Kroese and her team in 2014. In response to the 12-hour workday in China, “retaliation” was reportedly added, causing workers to “stay up late as their only way to take back some control over their time.”

Amanda Palo, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, told Yahoo Life that it’s not surprising that moms are exhibiting this behavior, “Although gender roles may not be as traditional as they used to be, in many families, moms may be taking on a greater percentage of parenting activities. Parenthood is a 24-hour-a-day job. Add to that working outside the home, plus the daily stresses of life, plus a global epidemic that has been going on for two years, and it’s easy to see why parents may be feeling increasingly stressed and may not have much ‘me time.'”

Helena Lempala, a psychologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, agrees, telling Yahoo Life, “If you really have a good sense of time, you realize you don’t have time to fit in everything you want to do in a day. .” She added, “If you prioritize, you have to give up something, and that’s very difficult.”

Palo says most people – whether they’re parents or not – can identify with the feeling that they’re working too much without a break. “Especially for parents, the only break they get is after the kids go to bed,” she says. “When you finally get a chance to catch your breath, it’s natural to want to do something you enjoy or do something relaxing, and sometimes that can be more important than sleep.”

Why people are willing to give up sleep
So why are people often willing to sacrifice sleep to do other things? Dr. Abhinav Singh, a medical reviewer for SleepFoundation.org and medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center, told Yahoo Life, “It’s the softest of goals, and we take it for granted.”

Rempala agreed and said that, in general, when it comes to sleep, “we don’t take it as seriously as other activities.”

She also noted that most people feel they “can sometimes function on very little sleep,” even if it’s “not optimal. In fact, according to the Sleep Foundation, more than 35 percent of U.S. adults report getting less than seven hours of sleep per night on average – which is below the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults ages 18 to 64 (adults 65 and older need seven to eight hours of sleep per night).

With so many people not getting enough sleep each day, it feels like “there are no direct negative consequences,” Rampala says. But as Singh and Palo point out, that’s not the case.

“While the idea of sacrificing sleep for leisure activities is understandable and tempting, it is not without consequences,” Palo says. “Decades of research have shown that sleep is essential to maintaining physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation has both short- and long-term negative effects on health, and sleep deprivation can affect, for example, our ability to focus, remember and regulate our emotions. We can recover from a few nights of sleep deprivation here and there, but when sleep deprivation occurs over time, this can lead to more serious negative consequences.”

Rempala says that frequently delaying bedtime and not getting enough sleep as a result can become a “vicious cycle. “The more tired we are from lack of sleep, the more we need that de-stress time.” The more rest you get, the less rest you need,” she contends.

Sleep deprivation can make you cranky, hungry and “feel worse” the next day, Singh says. In addition, he notes, driving while drowsy – which affects your concentration, coordination and reaction time – is dangerous the next day. By robbing sleep to buy more time, Singh says, “you think you’ve scored a victory, but you haven’t.”

So how do you get some “me” time without sacrificing sleep?
Palo admits, “It’s definitely hard to fit all of our responsibilities, needs and desired activities into 24 hours.” “Moms and parents in general should have the opportunity to recharge, connect and have ‘me time.’ Not only does this help improve mood and overall well-being, but it also helps parents better meet the needs of their children. Tomorrow.”

So how can parents – and indeed anyone who is pressed for time – make it work? Palo and Rempala both agree that balance and flexibility are key. “Grab breaks when they come,” Rempala advises. “I don’t think it’s good for us to wait until the evening. We may not realize that there are times when we can decompress [instead of] this idea that it has to be the perfect time, or it has to be quiet, or it has to be ideal – and the ideal is the enemy of the good.”

Rempala also recommends finding relaxing activities that don’t interfere with sleep. “Instead of scrolling through your phone or watching TV, go to bed with that audiobook you’ve been wanting to read for the last month or that podcast you’ve been dying to listen to,” she says.

She suggests setting a timer for “how much time you think you want to spend doing this activity,” then getting comfortable in bed and turning off the lights. “Your body and brain will determine how quickly you fall asleep,” Lempala says. “If you need longer to relax, you’ll like this story, but without unnecessary lights that are overactive and keep you up too long. If you need to sleep, you’ll get lost before the timer goes off.”

When possible, Palo recommends that parents rely on their support systems, such as partners, family, friends and babysitters, “to make time for alone time before they go to bed on their own.” She adds, “Maybe take an hour to go to an art class, fitness class or coffee with a friend. Two-parent families can alternate child-care activities, such as bath and bedtime, to give each parent a break during which they can engage in relaxing or enjoyable activities.”

When that’s not possible, Palo says, “Moms can try to get creative and maximize ‘me time’ without sacrificing sleep. This might look like setting aside an hour or two in the evening to watch a favorite show or read an episode or two, then going to bed at a reasonable time.”

Inevitably, however, “we can sometimes get carried away and cut our sleep short,” Palo admits. But, she says, “we just want to minimize that and make up for the sleep debt in between in time. Importantly, seeking support from a therapist is another good option when trying to reduce stress and decompression on your own isn’t enough.”

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