I frequently get asked questions like:
“What are your best tips for getting more done?”
“How can I be more productive?”
“How do you do it all?”
Before Nora was born, I would have answered (somewhat smugly): “Get up earlier, don’t let yourself get distracted, go to bed earlier, and get MORE sleep!”
And lately, I’ve seen a bunch of bloggers who agree with me. There has been lots of talk in “blog world” about getting more sleep, waking up earlier, etc. etc. These are GREAT goals and I totally agree that “getting more sleep” is an excellent way to have more energy and be more productive.
Now that Nora is here, I’m a little less naive and realize that “more sleep” is not always possible. After 9 months of getting only 4 or 5 hours of broken sleep every night… it’s safe to say that Dave and I are both exhausted. We would love to get more sleep, but it’s just not an option right now since Nora doesn’t nap and is quite fussy at night.
And as you know, there are SO many other situations that also prevent people from getting more sleep:
- sleep apnea
- chronic illness or chronic pain
- older children who still don’t sleep through the night
- children with special needs
- being pregnant and uncomfortable
- restless legs
- working long hours or the night shift
- working two (or more) jobs
- caring for elderly parents
- depression or anxiety
- and the list could go on…
If you can relate to any of the items listed above, you know as well as I do that you would LOVE to get more sleep… you just can’t. And the suggestions to “take a nap” or “take it easy” or “sleep when your baby sleeps” don’t work either because you physically can’t take a nap, or your baby doesn’t take a nap, or you have 4 other kids who don’t all take naps at the same time, or you’re working 2 jobs and literally don’t have any extra time… or any other number of reasons.
Of course, I knew my beloved sleeping schedule would change significantly after Nora arrived… I just never imagined it would change as much as it did 🙂
So, if you are tired, exhausted, and unable to get more sleep, here are 6 tips that have helped me… hopefully they will help you too.
1. Stay hydrated.
I drink SO much more water now than I did before. I constantly carry a water bottle with me and am always drinking something while I sit at my desk or work around the house. We have 2 huge pitchers of lemonade and orange juice in our fridge at all times, and any time I start to feel my energy level dropping, I head to the fridge and get something to drink; non-alcoholic — although… 🙂
I have started to drink a bit more pop (soda) than I used to — but that’s only out of desperation and because I can’t get myself to drink coffee or tea.
2. Eat regularly throughout the day.
I’ve always been a frequent eater — probably because I played sports all through high school and college and just got used to eating smaller amounts several times throughout the day.
When I’m tired — or getting tired — my first instinct is to grab a cookie or candy bar. And while I definitely still eat my fair share of cookies, I also make it a point to keep several healthier snack options on hand for my many snacks throughout the day.
I always (ALWAYS) take food with me where ever I go, and not only has this helped me to keep my energy level up, it has also helped me to resist fast-food drive-throughs!
3. Take showers mid-day.
This might sound odd — and it will seem really weird if you’re used to taking a shower in the morning or at night… but it works!
There were many days last school year when I would hand Nora off to Dave as he walked in the door and then I’d go take a quick shower. Even now, I will often take a shower right after dinner to “wake up” and get a little extra energy so I can make it through the exhausting evening hours when we’re trying to get Nora to sleep.
4. Go outside.
Even if your health is bad or you can’t physically walk around or exercise, just simply sitting outside, breathing in fresh air, and soaking up a little sunshine should boost your energy. At least this almost always works for me!
Thankfully Nora loves being outside, so we go for LOTS of walks, play in the grass, etc. Even on a rainy day, sitting on the front porch or taking a quick jaunt to the mail box and back might be just what I need to make it through a couple more hours without crashing.
5. Give yourself something to look forward to.
If you have something to look forward to, your mind won’t focus on how tired you are… and this “something” could be as simple as a favorite TV show, taking a long hot shower, going out for a special dinner, inviting a friend over for the afternoon, having ice-cream sundaes for an evening snack, spending an hour on your favorite website or searching on Craigslist, working on a hobby, etc.
I know this sounds crazy, but it has worked really well for me. I constantly try to give myself something to look forward to and before I know it, I’m feeling less and less tired and the hours are going faster!
6. Give yourself grace.
I’ve gotten lots of somewhat negative/snotty comments and remarks from people if they hear us say something about being tired or if we’re talking about Nora’s lack of sleep. Some of them don’t believe us, some think we’re just trying to complain or make a big deal out of nothing, some think we’re “enabling” Nora, and some tell us it’s because we’re just too busy. But they don’t know the whole story — and honestly, the comments don’t really bother us any more.
I’ve also noticed that Dave and I are starting to say no a lot more. We’re just too tired to spend any energy on activities outside our family, our jobs, and our home… and we’re OK with that. We’ve given ourselves grace to say no to committees and volunteer work, we’ve given ourselves grace to turn down fun activities and family parties, and we’ve given ourselves grace not to worry what anyone else thinks of us right now.
This has helped us a lot!
Please note that I am honestly not trying to complain, I’m not looking for sympathy, and I’m definitely not looking for more advice to help Nora sleep.
I just know (based on the number of emails I’ve been getting) that there are lots of other people out there who are exhausted and don’t have the option of “getting more sleep”. I also know how frustrating it is when people tell me — “you need to sleep when your baby sleeps” or “just make sleep your #1 priority” or “this too will pass”. It’s all good advice, but it doesn’t work for everyone… and it doesn’t work for me!
Need-less-to-say, I no longer flippantly advise people to “get more sleep” as a magic solution to their productivity problems 🙂
So, for those of you who are tired but don’t have the luxury of getting more sleep, I hope some of these ideas will work for you.