Obviously, everyone needs sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but as with everything else in a person’s life, the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. We all have our own individual experiences and need to find out what works best for ourselves. For me, I need at least 8 hours. I always have. When I was little and would have sleepovers at friends’ houses, and we would stay up late, I would always get sick the next day. I would run a fever and be out of commission for a week. As an adult, I’m the same way. If I don’t get a full night’s sleep, I feel just terrible. I’m learning that I really need to make sure that I exercise during the day and that I don’t spend time on my phone or computer right before bed to get my best sleep.
The only exception to my needing this much sleep was when my son (now 14 months) was a newborn. Parents of newborns never sleep, but we had an especially difficult experience because Hank was born a month early, and as a result, he slept all the time because he wasn’t quite ready to be out of the womb, to the point where he wouldn’t wake up if he was hungry. His doctor said that he would literally sleep himself to death if we didn’t set an alarm during the night for every two hours to wake him up and feed him. I felt like I was torturing this poor baby every time we had to wake him. We would strip him down to his diaper and have to run a cold washcloth along his tiny body to jolt him awake because nothing else worked. I would try and nurse him for 15 minutes to a half hour, but he would be too sleepy and weak to latch, so then I would feed him a bottle of pumped milk since it was easier for him to drink from a bottle. Then I would have to burp him, pump again and then wash the bottles and pump pieces, and by the time all of that was done, it was almost time to repeat the whole process again!
For some reason, during this two-month period, I was still okay with barely any sleep. I think my brain and body just new that I couldn’t afford to get sick and shut down because my baby needed me, and I find that so amazing. I definitely want to have another baby eventually, and I’m really scared of many aspects of having two children, lack of sleep included, but I think it’s so cool that when we really need them to, our bodies find strength and step up. This is something I’ve learned through practicing yoga. I’ve learned to be honest with myself about what I need mentally and physically, and I’ve learned that I’m a lot stronger than I think.