It's so satisfying to read a book that makes your life better, isn't it?
During the first two years of Sydney's life I had very few good nights of sleep. More days than not I was exhausted, low on energy, and fighting an uphill battle to not get depressed. But we got through it, and now she sleeps like a champ.
Just in time, of course, for another little person to start stealing my sleep. Oh...yay.
We all know what a bad night's sleep looks like. But if you're a parent, you really know what disordered sleep can do for you. It kills you. Night by miserable night. After that first year of parenthood, you have lost more than 200 hours of sleep. Good thing those little kiddos are worth it, although I confess to sobbing more than once during the night-time misadventures: no. more. kids.
I will say that Julianne is a better sleeper than Sydney was (praise God for that), but I'm still not getting the sleep that I wish I was getting. I've read half a dozen books on getting my kids to sleep better, but never read one on getting me to sleep better. So, given the opportunity to read such a book you bet I was all over that like...like some clever metaphor that I can't think of because I've learned that my brain is functioning at a less than optimum performance due to sleep loss.
The answer to the problems of my life? The Bible. The answer to the other problems of my life? Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. I knew before starting the book that I needed more sleep. Duh. If the author's prescription was going to be "get more sleep and your life will be better" I was going to be annoyed that this Dr. Breus fellow was living in the world of perfect situations (no kids, no stress job, no tossing and turning husband).
Oh, Dr. Breus, you didn't let me down. He writes on page 25:
"Given my experience I'm inclined to admit that women, as a gender, appear to bear numerous stresses due to the multi-faceted nature of their roles in today's society. Mom. Wife. Employee. Chauffeur. Cook. Cleaner. Business Owner. Family manager. Caretaker, etc. When I sit and talk with my female patients...we discuss everything from pregnancy to menopause, to career, to marriage, and that word "balance," and I know I've got it much easier than many of them."
Okay. He gets it. I mean all this stuff is a no-brainer, but still. He gets it. Sometimes sleep becomes the last thing on the to do list, and we give it up to get other stuff done, like laundry and bill paying and blogging. The real kicker though is that Dr. Breus says (my paraphrase), I get that. And here's why you need better sleep if you're going to be able to accomplish all that.
Dr. Breus, a medically certified sleep specialist, writes about all the stuff that can take our sleep away, and then basically says, You owe it to yourself, your family, your health, and your overall well-being to sleep better. It's one of the most important things you can do. I know I didn't need permission to request more sleep, but it was good to read about how critical it is to my life. Maybe, just maybe, I need to go to bed earlier. Maybe...*sigh*... I shouldn't give up sleep hours to blog.
Essentially, Dr. Breus develops the answer to the question, "What does a good night's sleep look like and how can I get it?" Even though he has several pages devoted to the science of sleeping, the book is most helpful in actual tips for helping create an environment and lifestyle that are suited for better sleeping. It is possible to wake up in the morning and not feel like your eyes are full of sand.
The book is extremely practical all the way from providing quizzes that assess what your sleep problems might be, to how to make the most of naps, to how sleep helps you lose weight, to how to get your bedroom to be a place where you can sleep better. (I was one step ahead of him on this one because I had already implemented some of his suggestions: paint the room calm colors, get the stressful paper stuff out of the room, put up pictures that calm you, use room-darkening drapes. Today on my to-do list: get night lights, and buy a new pillow for Jason.)
I came away from the book realizing that because my 'during the night sleep' isn't going to be perfect, then I need to make going to bed earlier a priority. If that means taping my tv shows, if that means that I leave a blog unposted and an email unanswered and a paper ungraded, then that's the way it goes. My mental and physical health is dependent upon more--and better--sleep.
HERE'S THE PART WHERE YOU NEED TO STOP SKIM READING: I truly believe this book has something important to say about the necessity of sleep. Even if you think you're a good sleeper, I bet there's something in this book that can make your sleeping even better. It includes a four-week plan on how to get better sleep, and I'll let you know how things are going when I've finished the other three weeks.
In a nutshell: this book is good. It's super helpful. It's completely changed the way I view sleep. Sleep isn't a luxury item. I need it to stay positive. I need it to lose weight. I need it to be a good parent. I need it to be a good wife. I need it to be an effective person in society who can make a difference.
So that's my review of the book. I was lucky enough to get my copy free from Parent Bloggers Network, but it's definitely worth the almost $16 you can get it for on Amazon. Even if you just go to the library or bookstore and spend an hour glancing through it you'll discover things you didn't know about sleeping. Or you could also go to his blog, or his articles on Web MD, or his web site which has a lot of the information that's found in the book. (Sidenote: the only thing that seemed a bit overdone was how often he referred to his web site, although I suppose this would be helpful to those who are just glancing at small sections of the book. I did get a nice chuckle, however, when I saw on page 195 that he misspelled the url his web site.)
And just, fyi, I'm not giving this book a good review because I got it free and because I'm affiliated with PBN. I am completely allowed to give it a bad review, which you know I would because there are too many good books out there for you to waste your time on dumb ones. I firmly believe this. That said, this is a really helpful book. Five twinkling stars from me.