Good Sleep: Everybody Wins

graphic reading "Little Joy Map"

I was reading the Weissbluth book about sleep and in the very beginning he mentioned that by sleeping more, he was actually a better father. He said he was warmer and friendlier.

And that stood out to me. You see, Mr. Bird on the Street took a very demanding job a few years back. And then he re-upped his military commitment as a reservist because we needed the delightfully cheap health insurance they offer. This meant he had to to start running so he could pass all those delightful physical fitness tests. And so, in the last couple of years, he hasn’t slept very much. We also had all those babies, which aren’t really good for sleep either.

And I love my husband–I do. But he wasn’t nearly as friendly as he used to be, and he never wanted to do anything around the house. I didn’t help things at all because being home with all four of your children so your spouse can go work out? Cue the jealousy!!! I mean, I knew it was for the whole family’s health insurance, but that didn’t make taking care of four kids any easier, and a lot of times I would ask him to go after everyone was in bed. As you can imagine, that made him stay up even later.

dog sitting on a porch

Our Brave Protector

So I made one tiny change. I vowed to make everybody’s sleep important–mine, his, and the kids. If he fell asleep on the couch, I’d encourage him to go to bed. If he said he was tired during the weekend, I’d suggest a nap. I let him sneak off to the gym an hour before Charlie’s bedtime. I also kept reminding him how important sleep is.

Guess what? It made things awesome. When I started valuing his sleep, he started valuing mine. He thanks me OFTEN for being so “considerate.” I think I’m exactly the way I used to be except for that one tiny change.

Moral of the Story: We need to prioritize everybody’s sleep because it’s good for all of us.

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  1. Great blog! I think some people underestimate the need for sleep to have a happy, healthy life. Getting good sleep isn’t always the easiest thing to achieve though as there’s so many different sleep disorders that make have a good, refreshing snooze almost impossible. Sleep apnoea is one of the most common problems; it causes snoring, restless sleep, causes you to wake up constantly and can be a sign of heart disease! Snoring has always been something people tend to laugh and joke about but it can be pretty serious! If you’d like to find out more on the health-side to sleep and more tips on how to get a good night’s rest I’d recommend .. They primarily sell mouth pieces to stop snoring but their blog covers loads of sleep-related issues!

    • Dave:
      I’m not sure, but there was at least one company like that covered in one of the books I read.

  2. Yay for hubby!
    I read an Uberfacts tweet yesterday that said if it takes under 5mins to fall asleep at night then you are sleep deprived!!! It should take 8-10 mins to fall asleep.
    It barely takes me 2 mins and I have always been like that all my life.. So yikes colour me sleep deprived! And I don’t know how to fix it. Sigh

    • This is true! They say it should take about fifteen minutes to fall asleep and if you’re falling asleep in less time than that then you’re not getting enough sleep. My personal opinion is that some people fall asleep quickly because they work very hard during the day. My MIL grew up on a farm and it takes her about five seconds to fall asleep, no matter what.

  3. We have all sorts of sleeping issues between Jim and I- his back, my need for the TV to be on so my brain can be OFF, etc. So we sleep apart, and even though it’s kind of sad and grandparent-y of us, it helps us sleep better and more, and I agree with you that sleep is of prime importance so whatever you have to do to get it, it’s worth it.

    • A very well-respected sleep expert felt that we should sleep in our own beds, so you’re in good company with your decision. I think the idea of sleeping with a spouse is romantic, but not always practical. When I was pregnant with my twins, I had to sleep propped up like some sort of bizarre princess and I still snored! I also got up approximately one million times a night. So I slept in the guest bedroom, so my husband could get some rest.

  4. This is exactly why I was posting about being in favor of on-campus nap rooms the other day. Good sleep IS good for everyone!

  5. My hubs and I were talking about this just the other day. I’m on maternity leave with my second kid right now and I do all of the middle of the night shifts. I figure I’m the one who can sleep in and he’s not the food source, so why does he need to get up with me in the middle of the night? And, I actually remember being angry with him when he tried to get up and help with our first child. He wasn’t adding any value and he was just making himself more tired.

    So, a few weeks ago, my husband mentioned our arrangement to a coworker who had just returned from maternity leave. He said she treated him like a neanderthal and said that she had insisted that her husband take 50% of the nighttime shifts while she was on leave. Don’t get me wrong, my husband took on his fair share of middle of the night duties when I went back to work last time and he will this time, but it just irritated me. In my marriage I hope that we both feel secure enough that we can give to the other person without feeling like you’re being taken advantage of. I am confident that we both pull our weight and it makes it easy to give the gift of sleep. Thanks for writing about this. I’m excited to read about your experiments with sleep and the addition of routines to your daily life.

  6. My husband and I did the fifty-fifty thing at our house with Charlie. Several years later, a friend mentioned that he and his wife did shifts, and it was like a light bulb went off. I call it “playing to our strengths.” My husband is better in the morning and I’m better late at night, so we divvied up the night that way. We are all different, however. I have another friend and her husband would get up each night and physically bring her the crying baby and then she would nurse. It’s such a stressful and exhausting time–I think we all process it differently, especially with the first baby!