This is going to be controversial.
Sleep is a valuable commodity in the eyes of a mother. 6 hours of sleep might sound like a pipeline dream to you right now if you're in the throes of managing babies or toddlers.
I was lucky with my two. I do know, however, how hard it can be to get a good night's sleep – even if you're kids are sleeping well. Just because they've gone down to sleep doesn't mean the days over for you.
There are washing and dishes to do. There are lunches to make. There's cleaning of things like the toilet that can't be done when you've got a toddler running around (my one likes to grab the brush and mop the bathroom floor with it.)
It's funny how we don't want sleep as children, then we grow up and discover it's what we truly crave. But how do we know how much sleep is actually enough to get us up and at it again, day after day?
The obvious thought would be if we can only get to sleep earlier or get a lie-in now and then, we'd probably get the amount of sleep we need. This, however, is an utterly outrageous concept when you've got young children. You threw that notion out the window a long time ago.
However, there is a way to time your sleep, so that you can maximise your chances of waking up the next day feeling refreshed and capable of survival.
There's a new online sleep calculator that will work out what time you should be going to bed, based entirely on when you need to be getting up. It does this by using the body's natural patterns of sleep – which are typically in 90-minute increments.
That's where the trouble lies – not in when you go to bed, like you may have thought. If your alarm happens to wake you up in the middle of one of these 90-minute cycles, it could potentially be interrupting you from a deep sleep.
This rude interruption is the most common catalyst for making people feel groggy and therefore unwilling to get up and start the day. By using this sleep calculator, you can easily work out exactly what time you need to be going to be to give you the best chance of waking up with a spring in your step.
This handy dandy calculator will also take into account the typical amount of time it takes for someone to fall asleep – which is 14 minutes.
So, the million-dollar question: how much sleep do we need? Are 6 hours of sleep enough? Or do we need to be stretching that out to 8?
When it comes to adults, we need between seven and nine hours of sleep a day. 7 to 12-year-olds require 10 to 11 hours. It mostly depends on how old we are. Babies, of course, need the most sleep out of all of us at a massive 16 hours a day – yeah right, I know. The most surprising statistic for me is how much over 65's need – just 7 to 8 hours.
The amount of sleep that children need slowly decreases as they get older, with toddlers still needing between 12 to 14 hours. By the time they're 12 right up until they're 18, they will need between 8 and 9 hours a night. I think it's safe to say that, unfortunately, 6 hours of sleep isn't enough.
When you become an adult and start to fall into a regular sleep pattern, you should be getting between 7 and 9 hours a night to stay healthy. HOWEVER, I'm still fully aware that for some of you – and often me, too – this is all but impossible. Don't worry; it'll get better, I promise. Those kids will grow up, and before you know it, you'll be dragging them out of bed in the morning.
Through my sleep research, I also made another amazing discovery. If the lavender oil isn't quite cutting it and you need a more intensive intervention when it comes to the little ones and sleep, you should check out Rachel Moon's book about sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and Rachel Moon wrote a book called Sleep: What Every Parent Needs to Know. It's a comprehensive guide to your child's sleep patterns, correct bedtimes, bed-wetting, night terrors and anything else you could think of relating to their sleep.
The best part about this book is that it talks about it never being too late to correct bad or wrong habits. I know that I've certainly fallen by the wayside sometimes when it comes to installing good bedtime routines and habits for my kids. So it's been great having a well-researched, comprehensive book that can guide me through these difficult early years.
Pick up your copy of Sleep: What Every Parent Needs to Know here. You can get it on kindle too, which is a great option – save you waiting too many more sleepless nights for delivery.
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How much sleep are you and your little ones getting at the moment? I hope it's enough! Let me know!