Now that we’ve had our date with Punxsutawney Phil, we can all agree that we’ve been really lucky this winter, as I see it, in regards to weather. Right?! Remember when we got 4 ft of snow dropped on us two years ago? That event holds a particular special spot in my heart; I was 5 months pregnant, our then two year old and I held down the fort as my husband was away snowboarding in Utah. Thank god for toddlers who nap, which allowed me to shovel my buried Highlander out, and for the kindness of a neighbor who plowed the driveway, once I had done so!
Or even more memorable, was the winter of 2010, we got a foot of snow each week for 6 weeks. I was a new mother foraging in unknown, isolated territory, in our rural homestead with no other young mothers to check in with. Talk about true grit! That almost did me in, but that’s another tale I’ve lived to retell.
By this point, I have thankfully wizened to the fact that not only do my needs change with each season here in Connecticut, but what I do to support myself so that I can show up happily, healthily, and fully, changes as well. I’ve taken particular interest in really nourishing my body, now two kids later and almost 4 decades into residency in this particular temple, the fact couldn’t be any more blatant or real… This is my Ride, and I need to polish, preen and pimp it until the day I leave it.
I am a full on supporter of sufficient nighttime sleep and naps, whether child or adult, and I know my need for adequate sleep is deep. Sleep deprivation is incredibly taxing, and it seems more women that I ask about their nighttime sleep confide that many sleep between 3 and 6 hours per night. No wonder they find that their transition into menopause is more laden with hot flashes and anxiety, and younger ladies experience weight gain, agitation and loss of concentration, among many other maladies.
Dr. James Beckerman, (http://www.webmd.com/beckerman-james) states “that various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.” Sacrificing sleep in order to work longer hours or later at night ends up creating more work, not working wiser or more efficiently.
When we don’t allow ourselves enough sleep, our bodies can fail to support us not only psychically, but physically. Chances for developing serious health concerns like diabetes, depression, obesity and heart palpitations greatly increase, and sleep deprivation leads to potentially doubling the risk of cardiac arrest.
The first 6 months postpartum with our second son was hell. He nursed like a champ, and I was grateful. But he needed to be attached to me nonstop. Literally. I would prop up on the couch, side lying, as he latched on, and then fell asleep as my husband and I tried to have some “R&R” in front of the TV once our toddler was in bed. David would bring me snacks and beverages, while I was tethered to our baby. This continued into bed, and if we lost physical contact, he would thrash for me and re-latch. I was a mess. How I managed to work, albeit part time, was a miracle, and I thank god I wasn’t prescribing medications at that time for any patients, just obtaining medical histories in collaboration with an anesthesiologist.
Once we got baby into his own room with the help of an amazing Sleep Doula at 7 months, it was like I finally could notice sunshine, and remember what I had done 5 minutes ago. It took me honestly 6 months to heal from the deprivation. I am so grateful for that time with our baby B, but now recognize guiltlessly that if I am tired, then dammit- I’m going to bed! I am so much happier when I get 7.5 -8 hours at night, and do my best to set myself up to do so. Winding down in the evening with relaxing activities is key, and making certain that I have some quiet time after any television ensures my nervous system isn’t still processing before I attempt sleep.
I know when the days become longer, my sleep requirements may transition as well, but for now, I am settled with the need for deeper rest, reflection and re-cooperation from our busy days.
How rested are you these days? Please share below what you feel you’re doing that supports your nocturnal rejuvenation, or what could use some polishing.
With love and wishes for wellness,