Six years of mothering, and I’ve just now come to terms with this: ideal sleep is simply not part of early motherhood. Motherhood comes pre-loaded with self-sacrifice, and it shows up in myriad ways. Too much self-sacrifice leads to self-neglect – and in the area of sleep, that looks like sleep deprivation. So, how do we get enough rest to sustain us through the constantly shifting, day-and-night demands of mothering? In this post, I want to address how we can use a specific self-care tool to balance self-sacrifice in the area of sleep.
This ain’t your mama’s “sleep when the baby sleeps.” (Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that advice, it’s just an incomplete solution that won’t serve you forever.) One of the keys to restoring the sleep you’re losing is a little-known concept called ultradian rhythms. When these cycles run at night, we call them sleep cycles, and they repeat about every 90-120 minutes. As it turns out (but no one bothered to tell us), these cycles continue throughout our waking hours, too.
Is this scenario familiar to you? You’re working on a task for a while, and though you were in the zone, feeling energetic and productive, now you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and are unable to focus. You’ve just experienced an “ultradian rhythm.” We spend the majority of the cycle in a task-oriented mode, and we descend into an energy dip, a break, for a period of 15-20 minutes. It’s brief, but this ultradian rhythm break like a mini-sleep that allows your body to repair cell tissue, restore brain function, and energize you for the next cycle. These breaks are your key to replenishing some of the rest that’s missing from your nighttime sleep.
The thing is, most of us feel this fatigue coming on, and we don’t take the break – at least not in a way that works with our biology. We respond by grabbing something sugary or caffeinated while we scroll social media, hoping to snap out of this nonsense. Or, conversely, we plow ahead with our task, forcing ourselves to the finish line. The fatigued feeling will pass, but we’ll pay for it in the next ultradian rhythm by being less creative and productive than if we’d taken a proper break.
How to Take a Break that Actually Replenishes You
You can do it, momma--because you're amazing!
Much love, Rebekah.
This is us.
We are Women. We are Moms. We are here to help your family blossom.