Hi, my name is Jenna. I have sleep issues.

March 25, 2011 |  Category:   life

It’s gotten worse. Bedtimes pushed to 2:30, 3am, sometimes even later. That schedule would be fine if, you know, I was 21 and I can sleep in, but I am up by 7:30 to get both girls dressed, fed, lunches made and out the door for the walk to school. Insomnia and work aside, I just have a hard time making myself go to sleep. I don’t want to go to bed, but I recognize that this is a problem, the avoidance of sleep. Nobody can really function 100% on 16 hours of sleep over 4 days. I’m surprised that I can function at all, but I can and that’s what makes it dangerous because I keep pushing to see how far I can go. But I can’t give it up. Night time, when the girls are in bed, even after Mark has turned in, is my time. And then I realize, that maybe this is about trying to have it both ways. To be a parent without sacrificing time for myself. To cram in as much work as I can, as if I were childless. Is there anybody else out there like me?

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  • Twiggs March 25, 2011 at 9:53 am

    well i don’t see it as sleeping issues, but yes, i am a bit like you! the wierd things is that i love to sleep and i can fall asleep almost everywhere… let’s face it, i fall asleep on the dentist chair, if i am sat there too long. but i love going to bed late, i love to work at night… it’s calmer and i can do so many things… and with a puppy, i also get up really early. so… you are not alone! 🙂

  • Louise March 25, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Hi Jenna, I can’t relate to the sleep issues. I’m the opposite. I try to function past 9pm and it’s a struggle mentally and physically, but I feel that with two kids, a business and a house to run, it is the only ‘time’ I have to do a lot of things. I can really agree with your statement about giving up the day for the kids yet still putting in the work hours as if you are single … I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help myself ….

  • andsoiwhisper March 25, 2011 at 10:16 am

    yes… another one here. I also have the same feeling and do not sleep much cos I want to get everything done. I also feel that the night time and wee hours of the morning are just for me and can do things I cannot do during the day… wishing the day had more hours.
    Have a good weekend!

  • Erin March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I completely understand. I stay up way too late, avoid going to bed… so that I can read or write or blog or whatever, completely uninterrupted! I love the quiet when my kids are in bed, asleep, and not demanding my attention like they do all day.

    Problem is, I feel like crap when I have to get up at 6:30, and I find myself thinking, from the moment I get out of bed, “Tonight I’ll go to bed early. Yes, tonight I’ll be in bed by 10.” You know it’s a problem when you’re thinking about bedtime first thing in the morning!

  • Lou March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Hi Jenna,

    Been lurking on your blog since you were published on ohdeedoh and your blog’s my daily fodder when I try to wake up in the morning with my coffee.

    I totally commiserate about this whole sleep thing and hence felt compelled to post – I too go to bed at 2.30/3am, sometimes even later, and get woken up by the alarm at 7 to get my daughter ready for daycare, dropping her off then heading to work. To this day, I’m still wondering how can I actually function, especially since my daughter’s still not sleeping through the night (she’s 19 months) so my 4 hour sleep is often interrupted. But I’ve always done my best work in the middle of the night and I take a lot of work home so that I can spend some daylight hours with my child, and of course, I also crave for me-time. So I chose to sacrifice sleep, I probably shouldn’t though.

    But yes, you are not alone.

  • adornedlife March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

    absolutely. often up way too late because i feast on the quiet. problem is mean mommy shows up a whole lot quicker after a few days. my girls even made up a song… ouch.

  • gwen March 25, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I’m in a similar place. I’m still nursing my second child (7.5 months) through the night and working “part time” meaning I’m at my workplace 3 days a week and working from home 7 nights a week *sigh*. There were a few bad nights this month where I was up until 4 am (but because of the time change, it didn’t seem so bad). I can also fall asleep at the drop of a hat, but this is the only me time that I have, and as long as I keep it up, I seem to function well enough in every area except parenting my 3.5-year-old who pushes my patience to the limits. As soon as I get an extra hour of sleep, though, it throws me off completely and I’m exhausted! Was happy to check your blog this morning and see that today’s had already been posted 🙂

  • may March 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Yup. I have an 8 month old, so I guess I’d be sleep deprived anyway, but I stay up until all hours working. It’s important to me that I finish my PhD “on time,” eg at the same time I would have if I hadn’t had a baby last summer, but at what cost?

  • oki March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I am! I have a 11-month-old baby, and am working on dissertation. The baby occupies all of my daytime, and much of night time, too, because she wants to sleep with me. The only time that I could work on dissertation or other personal stuff is when she is sleeping, so it is hard to give up that precious time. I desperately yearn for sleeping, but then when I actually have time, I cannot spend that precious moment on sleeping. I am afraid that it would not get any better even when I finish dissertation.

  • Amanda @ willfuljoyful March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I’ve had sleep avoidance issues for years. I’ll stay up late because if I go to bed then I’ll wake up and it will be morning. Makes no sense, but I do it over and over and over. It’s a family trait — my mom and grandma do it too. It’s really awful right now since I’m 9 months pregnant with a 2 year old. Luckily he still naps so I can catch up on some sleep then. But really it makes no sense. If I’d just go to bed at a reasonable hour I’d get my me time during his nap-time and not be quite as exhausted. And yet I do it again and again. Figure out a way to stop doing this and tell me your secret!

  • jenny | aubrey road March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am

    i never want to go to bed! and it’s totally a problem. i’m childless and currently unemployed, which means i have no reason to wake up early. sounds great, but i feel guilty for sleeping in and then i rush around to do what i need to get done before it gets dark and the cycle starts all over again. i don’t really know what to do about it. i’m considering melatonin. but, man, i love the nighttime.

  • Sue March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am


    Yes, you can give it up. You are not a woman who says, “I can’t.”, so…
    Tidy up the house (together with Mark) and
    go to bed (together with Mark).

    Try it once, and let us know how that goes 😉

  • Danielle March 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Absolutely. While I’m not up as late as you, I often stay up too late (and then I suffer later while I’m getting up all night with my youngest) because the freedom just feels amazing. It’s hard to turn down the chance to read/write/cook/watch tv. I’m trying to push myself to bed (and leave my iphone in the living room because otherwise I just stay up reading on my phone). I hope you can find a little bit more time for rest.

  • Christine March 25, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I’m exactly the same. I put my 3-month old and my 2-yr old to bed, and I know, I should go to bed myself because my night will be punctuated by baby and toddler needing attention because of waking up, but I work 9am-6pm so the late evening is my only time to “relax”. So I usually don’t go to bed until 1am, even if I will be up 3-4 times during the night and up to get everyone ready for the day around 7:30am. But unlike you, I’m exhausted, I wish I could have an extra 3 hours in my day to sleep!

  • Heather De March 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I am exactly like you… my husband often works night shift too and comes home by about 4:00 am so as long as I’m in bed before that I think it’s okay. But really, it’s not. Lately I will fall asleep if I’m working on my laptop in the afternoon… but at night I really wake up and get hours done and enjoy my “me” time as well.

    I’ve been blog stalking your blog for a bit since I saw you on door sixteen. Since I have two kids 4 and 6, it’s been so fun to follow along. I’ve never been out your way, but hope to make a visit to NY in the next year or two… maybe with husband and kids too.

    Thanks for writing, it’s refreshing to read your honesty. All the best!

  • Theresa March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Yes, I too have sleep issues.  It all started in my early twenties when it was brought on by severe depression.  I just couldn’t sleep!!  Tried herbs, acupuncture as well as some other non mentionables.  Nothing worked.  I spent years going to sleep at 4 or even 5am (getting up between 10am – 1pm).  Luckily I’ve too worked freelance so… Anyway, these days it is more about me time.  My kids are still so young, 3.5 and 1.5, so I really don’t get much me time. Plus, I think ultimately I am kind of a loner.  I didn’t meet my husband until I was 32 and before him I was single for five years and living alone.  

    So what do I do at 12am or even 2am when everyone else is sleeping.  Take baths, read, surf the Internet, skype with friends in the U.S., a bit of work… The list is kind of endless.  

  • Pati N March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

    There is something about night time…no calls, no one will stop by…everyone asleep, that I cherish too. I don’t do any work, but I still enjoy doing the things I want to do with no one bugging me. It started when my kids were small but now it is so a part of my routine. I never stay up quite as late as you…I find reading is a great transition, I’m usually asleep before one. Maybe try that?

  • Marta March 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    It´s so good to know that I´m not the only one…

  • johanna March 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I have been this way my whole life. I have a 3yr old boy but it really has nothing to do him. Sadly, I’m not all that productive during these hours. Just reading, surfing the net, organizing. I feel like a loser that I don’t use those hours to write a novel or do something amazing!

  • Emily March 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I have the exact same issue. It’s insomnia, sure, but it is more about me not WANTING to go to bed. To watch the movie I couldn’t watch when the kids were awake & the husband wouldn’t once they were asleep. It’s my time to do what I want when I want without the kids & the husband & the pets & the phone all constantly pulling me in 10 different directions.

  • Val March 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I completely understand these issues you’re having, but I’m really surprised to know how many of your readers are having these kinds of problems. Jenna, this is not good for your body or for your health. Please get some sleep!

  • hannah March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    yes! i too have momsomnia. no matter how tired i am, i cannot give up my precious alone time (which i can only get at 2am).

  • Karen March 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Every single thing you wrote could have come out of my mother, but I don’t have children. For years, however, I card for a terminally ill spouse while also working full time from 6 to 4. I’d rush home from work so the home health workers could take off, and then spend the rest of the day into the late night and early morning caring for and spending time with my husband. When he’d fall asleep, sometimes I’d turn on the computer and do more work (or more likely, read blogs and things to escape) or clean the house, or just turn off the lights and hold his hand and daydreamed about how I’d spend my days and nights if things were different. You say that people can’t function on 4 hours of sleep a night, but I did for years, and honestly, I couldn’t have functioned without having those hours to myself. Now that I am living alone, I can’t get out of that sleep pattern, although sometimes I won’t wake up until 8 on weekends and that completely throws me off kilter!

  • Karen March 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Gawd, that first line should have read “… could have come out of my MOUTH” not Mother. She was the complete opposite – spent her days Mad Men style, drinking martinis, riding horses, hanging at the pool with her friends, sleeping in late and staying up late playing bridge or other card games with her friends. I don’t understand that lifestyle, even though I grew up watching every woman I knew living the same way. Strange.

  • mette / ungt blod March 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Im not like that but Dennis is -he finds it soo hard to get up in the morning, but he doesn’t want to give up that time at night when he actually feels most productive!

    -i love sleeping and try to stay up later than i want to to take advantage of those productive kids-asleep-hours! But actually i remember a time when i slept 5 hours a night and took a little nap in the afternoon and it felt really good! I always felt well rested! … now i just have to find time for that afternoon nap…

  • neta March 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I’m the opposite. can’t make it past 10 pm, but love my alone time from 5 am until I have to wake the house up…

  • Renita March 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Maybe working out? Doing more (deliberate,not just walking to get somewhere) physical release to encourage rest?

  • Ryan March 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Oh yeah! Yeah, hell yeah, I can relate to exactly what you wrote above. Literally that’s been my evening/night/early morning schedule. I love sleeping but I’ve been avoiding it like crazy so I can have as much time alone as possible.

  • Avat.R Koo March 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I don’t have kids, but I have a corporate gig. And yet, if I go to sleep at a sensible 10pm, or even midnight…I feel like I’m wasting my day. My life suddenly feels smaller and duller. Because midnight-5am is my magic time. I think it’s a night owl vs. morning person thing.

    I don’t know if this would interest you, but maybe you could experiment with polyphasic sleep: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/polyphasic-sleep/

  • Gower March 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Jenna! I’ve been a lurker hailing from California and have been following your blog for awhile now. Thanks for sharing your life with us readers! As for your post on sleep (or the lack thereof), I’m with you. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for everyone to go to sleep, kids and husband, just so I can get some me time in. The lack of sleep kills me, but I love being able to work uninterrupted and visit some blogs and read the news in silence. It’s led to quite a number of colds this past year, so I’m sure sleep will help, but I love “me time.” It’s a bit comforting to know there are so many other moms out there, plugging away on the computer while the rest of the world seems to be asleep…

  • julie March 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Must comment. I am absolutely nocturnal. Optimally, I like going to bed around 4 am and waking at 11 am or noon. Of course, my corporate 8 to 8 job makes that impossible, but that doesn’t stop my brain from devouring useless information until 4 am, only to be jarred awake three hours later to start the day.

    My theory: it think it stemmed for an intense dislike of getting ready for bed (brush teeth, floss, wash face), and given my pronounced procrastinating nature, I kept putting it off. Over time, it’s developed into a nocturnal existence. Every night is a struggle to get ready for bed before the AM begins. EVERY. NIGHT.

  • Shannon March 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I have to be in bed by 11 otherwise I’m wrecked but I could pull all nighters just to sit in silence and not be badgered or crawled on! It’s luxurious, the silence.

  • Erin March 25, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Jenna, I enjoy the blog! Definitely make those lunches at night! And yeah, my kid goes to bed at 6 or 7pm and wakes up throughout the night, so I know your hell.

  • Carla March 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I am a mess these days because I’m pushing my bedtime later and later, even though I know it’s asking for trouble. When I was young, single and childless I would stay up till 2 or 3am, and happily sleep in till whenever the next day. I love working at night, love the quiet, love the no interruptions. I agree with Julie above, it is comforting to know that there are other people just like me, pottering away in the depths of the night!

  • Rita March 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Hi Jenna! Welcome to the group!
    Yes, I have sleep issues too, though I get more than you do. I push it until I can’ stand, then I try to read in bed … I’ve been on the same page of the same book for weeks now. And then, during the day, I require serious doses of caffeine to even speak English. At around 3pm, my head is ready to hit the desk. But I’ve vowed to fix this issue, because no, I’m not giving anything 100%. I hope you are able to address this, perhaps renegotiate your priorities, or delegate what you can let go of … good luck!

  • Lily Chalmers March 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Jenna,
    Have you tried acupuncture? It is great for insomnia. Seriously, you need to look after yourself, it’s dangerous to be superwoman, especially when you have people depending on you. I think all mamas have this dilemma, balancing what’s good for our family, work and ourselves, often we come last. Remember sleep deprivation is a form of torture, even if you feel like it’s time for you, it takes it’s toll.

  • sylvï March 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    sans the children – count me in! night owl to the bone… why it’s only 1:36AM now…

    one more reason for me not to have kids. would lose it if woken early every morning. although, when the cat was still around, he got fed at some unearthly hour every morning. owner/servant was not always quite awake doing so… and returned to bed asap.

  • Ez March 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Two hands up right here Jenna. I can’t sleep until well after 3am, and of course I’m far too gone at that time to get any constructive work accomplished…but I just need my me time. Without it I’m certain that I’d go completely bonkers. You’re defintiely not alone.
    x Ez

  • Laura March 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    My me-time came when the kids were older.

    There was a whole year and a half when the baby wouldn’t go to bed until 2:am, and I think that cured me of any procrastinating bed-times.

  • Lia March 25, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I’m the same way. I push off bedtime as late as I can, even though I have two little ones who wake up before 6am most days. And even though I know I’m going to have long, hard days with both of them the less sleep I get, it’s so hard to give up my beloved alone/adult time once I finally can have some. It’s actually something my husband gives me a hard time about. He’ll happily go to bed at 9pm and is much better at getting up early than I am.

  • sharonlei March 26, 2011 at 1:15 am

    Hi Jenna!! I was introduced to your blog from one of my best gf’s. Your family is beautiful and remind me so much of my gf’s family. Your dedication to your children to have the quality of life all children should have is very admirable… 🙂 It always amazes me to see mothers (and fathers) have full time jobs/careers, but still make sure that the children are given the attention they not only deserve, but need. I’m not a parent yet, but I know that we the hubby and I decide to finally start our family, we’ll try to be the best parents to our children.

    But you’re right, “me” time is so important. Even with a busy and hectic lifestyle, we all need to set aside time for ourselves. I don’t think it’s selfish at all. I think it’s necessary.

    I can relate to the sleepless nights… I run off of 4 – 5 hours sleep for most days of the week. Thank goodness for coffee. A girl’s best friend (screw the diamonds, lol). I do wish you a good night’s rest soon.. maybe a vacation to Hawaii is in order?!

    Love your blog Jenna.. will definitely be back for more.

    xx Love & Aloha

    p.s. I can’t wait to order some goodies from your website.. I’m going to surprise my gf that introduced me to your blog.. She’ll be so excited! And so am I.

  • kaci March 26, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Oh Jenna, I’m kinda worried about your health =(
    My sister had insomnia for 7 years and she got very sick from it. I really do hope you can figure something out, and go to sleep by midnight (or 1am latest). I like to sleep around 3 or 4am and get up around 10 so I’m trying to change my sleep schedule too. What time does Mark sleep? Maybe you can sleep when he sleeps, and then get up 2 – 3 hours before your girls wake up so you can still have time to yourself?

  • quyen huynh March 26, 2011 at 2:09 am

    i have a 3 yo and a 5 yo and as soon as they go to bed, the hours between 800 pm and 1230 am are the BEST. i can get so much done, interrupted time, i pull out all the junk food, and turn on bad tv. the best me time ever!

  • yukot March 26, 2011 at 3:31 am

    ahhh, i’m the same way, i love working late into the night, and i love pulling all nighters! but i also LOVE to sleep. i figured that my optimal sleep is 10 hours. when i get less than 8 hours of sleep, i tend to fall asleep anywhere/anytime. i’ve fallen asleep eating, standing, showering, driving, making copies, having a one on one meeting with my boss….it’s not good. i was so sleep deprived in college that after i finished, i slept 12 hours a day for 6 months!!! my biggest fear of having kids was that i wouldn’t be able to sleep in. getting up in the morning is SO hard for me, it’s a battle with myself no matter how much sleep i get. but luckily, my 16 mo sleeps late, we get up around 9 to 10 in the morning. (the price i pay – i co-sleep and nurse him in bed throughout the night. i know, it’s horrible) which allows me to stay up late at night, reading your blog….:) every year, my new year’s resolution includes “sleep less so i can get more things done.” and “go to sleep earlier and get up earlier.”

    if it’s any consolation, Napoleon only needed 4 hrs of sleep a night. but then again, Einstein needed 10….

  • jenn March 26, 2011 at 3:50 am

    hi jenna,
    i’m new to your blog, and as i am reading this post of yours, i’m doing exactly what you wrote about and it kind of weirded me out. i thought i was the only one, and thought that there was certainly something wrong with me. i’ve had bad insomnia in the past and it’s been especially problematic these last couple months. you’d think the lack of sleep would make us want to crash hard at night, but for some reason, that doesnt happen. i think i agree with your reasoning behind why we do it. i’m a mom of a 19 month old so my late nights are ME time! on sleepless nights, i sometimes imagine myself on a tropical island somewhere lying in the sand on the beach……we need vacations.

  • Pawan March 26, 2011 at 4:25 am

    YUP. It’s 1:30 am and I’m wide awake. This coffee can’t be helping…
    Not alone at all, my dear.

  • Kat March 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Yes, I have sleep issues too, except I sleep around 9 wake up around 1 or 2 am and stay up for a few hours to do chores, get ready for the next day, and soon study for school. I go back to bed and sleep for another 1 or so before it’s time to get ready for work and daycare. It’s exhausting, but on the weekends we like to go out and enjoy it not spend time doing chores!

  • Robin March 26, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Lack of sleep = danger to body and organs. Although you may not see or feel it now you are causing damage to your body and organs. Adrenals, heart, kidneys etc all effected by inadequate sleep. Do it for Mark and the kids!!! Give up something that is not a necessity and simplify your life and time. Hopefully not the blog (s) but if it improves your sleep thus your health -do it!!!! Think about it – when one is sick what does the body need SLEEP! Over time the lack of causes disease and malfunction of the body. Take care of yourself or you won’t be around to take care of your loves!

  • dee March 26, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Yes–I’ve been there. Try hard to get more sleep. I’m a decade older and am now learning of some of the health consequences of sleeping too little! Also, one factor could be that your body is more sensitive to even very small amounts of caffeine.

  • richard March 26, 2011 at 9:54 am

    i know you don’t want to hear this bcz it will actually require some sober self-examination and some hard choices that you’d rather continue living in denial about, but sleep deprivation is a serious sleep disorder which is most likely a symptom of some psychological issues that have finally caught up with you, Jenna. If you don’t understand the mental and physical damage your sleep deprivation is doing you and your life, you must learn about it soon. It sounds to me like there may be some degree of manic depression going on as well. I’ve read dozens of memoirs of people raised by a manic parent, and what they describe is pretty horrific. Please get some professional help. The suffering you are inflicting on your children and your husband are invisible to you. Your carefully crafted veneer of normalcy isn’t sustainable and no one likes to be around someone who suffers from sleep deprivation. I can only imagine how irritable you must be, but no one dares confront you about it. I treat people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that sleep deprivation is literally killing you, Jenna. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, and I’m sure you think I’m an awful person. But I’m not. And I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know deep in your heart or that you haven’t already been told by others who know and love you.

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