Friday, 10 September 2010

Sleep is the new feminist issue

I have read a lot about the health benefits of sleep over the past 6 years. Child-induced sleep deprivation and self-induced insomnia will do that to you. I would almost call myself an expert. An expert in knowing what I am missing out on.

I have read about the links between lack of sleep and increased blood pressure.

I have absorbed information about the stress reducing powers of sleep.

I know about memory consolidation and sleep and why sleep helps your memory.

I have read that you can do basic tasks when you are sleep deprived but have difficulty doing complex tasks or learning new ones.

I know that getting enough sleep is essential for weight loss and wards off the black dog.

And I know that sleep time is when your body mends and recovers from the craziness of the day.

But I have to say I was a little shocked to read in the newspaper at the weekend that sleep has made it onto the list of feminist issues! I really hadn't made that connection before (I am definitely getting 'soft' in my old age).

According to the likes of Naomi Wolf and Arianna Huffington, women are more sleep deprived than men (up to 90 minutes per day more). They argue, quite convincingly, that exhaustion is having an effect on women's judgement, creativity and relationships. It is another hurdle in the workplace.

Women's bodies need more sleep than men's, and yet now that we own the big jobs, take on the corporate ladder smashing the glass ceiling on the way up, add a dash of perfectionism to our lives and a brood of kids, we are forfeiting our sleep just to keep it all in check. To balance the life of hyperperformance.

The feminist message is that if we could just sleep more we could do more!

My message is, maybe we all just need to do less.

When people say to me "I don't know how you do it, with four kids, a family business and a part-time job", I say to them, "Lower your expectations". It always gets a laugh, but I am being quite serious. I know that I can't do it all, so I don't try. My mantra is "keep it simple". It works for me.

I just have to work out how to sleep again and I reckon I will be unstoppable. Unstoppably simple.

17 comments:

Kelly said...

Your mantra "keep it simple" I love it and could definitely learn a lesson for you!

Good Golly Miss Holly! said...

So true! I think some women take on all these different hats to juggle just to prove that they as women can do it. I don't think anyone needs to prove anything to anyone.

I think we all need to keep it simple, love what we do and lead happy, healthy lives!
x

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I haven't heard the arguments that sleep is a feminist issue, but I can see how the argument could materialize. I used to find myself saying, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," when I was in the throes of ladder-climbing.

Even though I have young kiddos, I definitely get more sleep now than I did in those days. I wish I could say my mental faculties were as sharp! :)

Maxabella said...

If all that stuff they write about sleep deprivation is true, I'm surprised I'm alive, frankly. I find that kind of talk so unhelpful when it's not my fault I don't get a good night's sleep. Really!

I'm with you, though. Throughout these busy 6 years of raising 3 kids on a total of 42 hours sleep, I've learned to say 'no'. It's okay to not be busy. It's okay to hang out at home doing bugger all rather than attend a social function. It's all okay. x

The Planet Pink said...

I love this and I totally agree with you. I think we do need to do less. Recently faced with my own limitations (hello panic attacks!), I'm being forced to examine where I'm spending my energy. I only have so much and my children and husband get first dibs.

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Frankly, I'm exhausted by the sheer number of feminist issues. If they can figure out a way for me to get more sleep I'm ready to hear it. I've been simplifying for years and still sleeping less. If it gets any simpler, I'll be amoebic. Small kids equal less sleep. It's a simple equation. And you're so right about expectations.

x0xJ said...

Absolutely true!
I am definately someone who thinks of life as "going back to the basics" which i guess is the same as "keep it simple".
I know that if i were working i would not be as on top of the housework, i wouldn't have time for my craft, i wouldn't have as much energy for my kids. I agree life is about a balancing act and you can't have it all, to have X you might need to omit Y and lessen your time for Z.
But boy do i feel you on the lack of sleep! And mine is NOT by choice, too many nights do i just lay in bed unable to switch of my thoughts so i can slip into sleep.

Mrs Woog said...

Agree - I have learnt to say "no thanks" and not overschedule stuff and it is simply freeing!

Lori @ RRSAHM said...

Indeed!! Oh, but, sleep.. my old freind. One day, we shall meet again, hopefully over a long, languid summer of nothingness. I'm picturing me swaying in a hammock, dozing for 24 hours straight. Sllllllleeeeeeeeep

whereamigoingagain said...

Waking no earlier than 7am are but a distant memory and future desire! Man it sucks waking at 5. It does my head in. And then I get over it. Keep it simple, definitely :)

Lucy said...

You know I have a passion for solving the sleep connundrum.

I love this post.

I hate to say, I agree - it is a female issue in my neck of the woods. I get my sleep. I go to bed EARLY. I alienate my husband by not bending to his will of sitting up on the couch with him watching crap.

Sigh.........

Gill@OurParklife said...

I love this post...

I am trying to live a simpler life....(reading that Buddhism for Mother book is helpful!) but I have to admit I seem to need constant reminding to keep things simple!

To be honest, I feel tired just thinking that there is another feminist issue to contend...

katepickle said...

I think living a simplier life would be better for me all round... I often choose to foregoe sleep so I can do other things. I am not sure if it is because I am female or just because my priorities are sometimes a little out of wack!

toushka said...

I agree! I can't get enough sleep right now because I'm pregnant and I want ALL the sleep. But I agree with the doing less answer. for sure!

geesuzie said...

I have just gone back and forward between your pages trying to work out the best place to leave this message, and here is as good as any! Firstly, thanks for visiting my blog too! I'm not sure that WordPress has an app/widget to add the Google Followers thingy (note: I am still working out this whole blog business :) ) I will have to look into that. I do, however, have email and RSS subscription if you so desire :)That much I could work out how to do!

Being Me said...

Absolutely. I completely agree. When I figure out exactly HOW to do less, though, and really stick to it (even though it's what I'm thinking I'm doing until I realise I'm juggling writing a book with running a business, a house and a 4yo plus a husband and a geriatric dog...) I'll get back to you....

Such an interesting, take-stock post. Thank you!

Frog, Goose and Bear said...

brilliant post! It really is so hard to function on such little sleep. sooooooo haaaaaaaard. According to research, if you are awake for 17 hours straight it is the equivalent of having a BAC of .05!

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