Nearly every afternoon, I plan; I hope that maybe this night, I’ll get to bed by the indecently early hour of 10 p.m.
As a kid, staying up late was a privilege, doled out as exceptions for special occasions, or stealthily acquired (typically by reading my Nancy Drew books while under the covers).
As a young adult, particularly while in college, it was a matter of honor to stay up late with friends. That sleep deprivation, however, could easily be cured by sleeping in until the next afternoon morning.
Then came kids. With their downright infantile propensity for eating, sleeping and crying, their irregular schedules did not sync with my desire for a full night’s sleep. Alas.
As my kids grew older, there was a sweet spot of sleeping opportunity that I failed to recognize. When the angels regularly went to bed before 8, that was my chance to catch up on the 6+ year sleep deficit.
But no, instead of catching up on sleep time, I caught up on “me” time. Keeping tabs of the shenanigans of that handsome George Clooney on the TV show ER. Not putting down a novel that I’d been anticipating reading. How foolish was I?
Then came the teenage years, and in addition to my children wanting to stay up later than me, their activities kept me up. Not the ones in the house, but the ones where I had to provide transportation. Baseball and softball games. Church social activities. My kids would use any excuse to prevent me from getting my well-earned snooze. (Truth be told, on the rare occasion that I have had an evening in, I’ve been held captive by my email, Facebook and other technology bandits until the wee hours.)
I know that a chronic lack of sleep can lead to long-term problems. Studies have linked a lack of sleep with obesity, and can compromise our immune systems. So knowing that, almost every day, I announce that I’m going to bed early. And every night about 11:38 p.m., I turn off my light.
Maybe once all of the kids are off to college, I will finally have a quiet house and can catch up on my sleep by going to bed early. Or, maybe, with no children in the house, I’ll stay up late to my heart’s content and will just set the alarm to wake me up by noon.
Some researchers say adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night. How many do you get?