IMG_1655Sleep. I love sleep. And I know I need more, consistent nights of sleep. Even my dear sweet Dad lectured me the other day on the amount of sleep I get, but I’m pretty sure I learned my sleep habits from him! I guess you’re never too old to hear the wisdom of your parents, and he is right – we all need to sleep. Studies have shown how poorly people perform on tests, decision making, and driving when they are sleep deprived. In fact, driving on little sleep can be just as dangerous as drunk driving because sleep helps us make the right choices, think quickly, and react appropriately. But if you’re a parent, a student, or you work nights, you are probably going to suffer more than a couple of sleepless nights. Worries, busyness, and sick and teething babies, toddler nightmares, and thirsty little throats are great interruptions to our sleep. And it happens… so how do we function on little sleep? Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned from 6 kids, 3 years of seminary, and far too many sleepless nights…

10. Drink a little extra coffee.  I mean, a little. It’s ok to indulge in a little extra caffeine to keep you going, but too much coffee will give you the jitters and upset your stomach. Plus, it’ll keep you awake that night.

9. Drink water. Our body functions slow down while we are sleeping, so we need less water and calories. However, when we don’t sleep enough, we’ll be using up those resources more quickly without giving our bodies a chance to recharge. Add that to the diuretic effects of coffee, and we are quickly dehydrated. Make sure you keep a glass of water handy and drink up!

8. Eat well. Sleep helps us regulate the hormones that tell us we’re hungry. When we don’t sleep enough, our bodies get confused and we think we are REALLY hungry, when we’re probably just thirsty and tired. But when we’re tired, we are more likely to make poor food choices, and this is a time when we need extra nutrition to help us cope with too little sleep. So eat healthy – and if you’re extra hungry, it’s ok, just make sure you’re noshing on the good stuff – apples, carrots, lean protein, and any kind of fruit and vegetable will give you vitamins and minerals without destroying your diet.

7. Watch out for your emotions. When we’re tired, we’re much more emotional. When you feel yourself getting agitated or weepy, take a big breath and relax before you react. If you feel like you’re flying off the handle, it’s probably just the tiredness talking. Make an extra effort to let it go! And give yourself some grace for a bad mood. This day will pass and you will be ok!

6. Turn the lights on. When you start feeling sleepy, turn up the lights. Brighter lights will help you stay more alert.

5. Take a quick walk. If you have to get some work done and feel yourself dozing off, take a brisk walk to the water cooler, bathroom, or jog around your living room to get your heart rate up and rejuvenate quickly.

4. Get a little sun. Fresh air and sunshine helps your mood and your energy level. A quick burst of sunlight will give you a little extra Vitamin D and it will help you sleep better that night.

3. Skip the workout if you’re really exhausted. If you’re just a little tired, that workout might help you have more energy for your day. But if you are exhausted to the point that your muscles ache, you might want to give it a break and spend that time taking a snooze.

2. Reward yourself. Give yourself something good to look forward to at the end of the day. Maybe a small delicious treat, take out so you don’t have to cook, a little time to relax by the fire, or a favorite tv show you’ve been wanting to watch. Giving yourself a nice reward will make your day go faster and better.

1.Take a nap! Never underestimate the power of a cat nap to help you feel refreshed. I like to drink a cup of coffee and set a 20 minute alarm right before I lay down. If I’m really tired, I’ll be fast asleep before the coffee kicks in. The alarm will wake me up just as the caffeine starts to work and I can better face the rest of my day.

What are your tricks for surviving too short nights?

We are all so so busy. Can’t eat right, can’t think straight, have to make a list just to go to the gas station kind of busy. Can’t remember if I’m coming, or going, or which day it is, or what appointments I need to schedule, or cancel, or rearrange, and what homework needs done and then there’s always that pile of laundry to do before the busy week begins all over again. And just when I think I’m getting a handle on the busy, something happens. Doesn’t something always happen? Like the flu. Or a little one needing breathing treatments so he can breathe easy at night. Or a car that needs repaired and a dozen or so bills that are still lying on the counter, waiting to be paid. Yeah, something always happens and I lose control of the busy and everything gets derailed and suddenly there are goldfish crumbs smashed in the carpet and the vacuum is broken because the kids tried to help and the laundry’s not done and the dishes have piled up and I know you’ve been in that place where there is nothing but busy. I know you’re busy, too, and you’re probably sitting here reading and drinking your coffee and trying not to think about being busy because you just can’t stand one more minute of the busy.

So make it stop.woman-hand-smartphone-desk-(1)

You heard me. We have control over most of this. So just make it stop. If you don’t want to be so busy, make it stop. I want to stop the busy.

Sitting here, on the sofa, during naps for 4 children with my 10 year old laptop that is barely keeping up with the words I am typing and the thoughts I am thinking, this is my respite from the busy. And I get a few moments of peace so that I can clear my head from the busy and straighten my thoughts out on this little computer screen until it’s time for the naps to be over and some of that busy begins again.

Why should I waste my life on the busy? Busy just makes for stress, and stomach aches, and weariness, and aching bones, and tired all the time because I am up so late at night finishing up the stuff that makes me busy that I don’t get to sleep. And then the next day’s busy is so much harder to complete because I am still worn out from the busy the day before and I just need to make all the busy stop.

I need to stop the busy. Everyone is busy.

There are so many good things in my life, happy things, right things, positive things, hopeful things, great things, good things, but they are all things that make me busy so what I need to is figure out which ones are the most important things and let the rest go.

You heard me. You have to let go of good things so you can enjoy better things more. You have to stop the busy.

We didn’t get in this place overnight. Busy happens gradually, it sneaks up on you in little bits and moments, a little today, and yes, you can coffee-cup-apple-iphonehelp out tomorrow, and ok, you’ll add those projects to your work deadline, and oh, alright, you can help make a few extra dioramas for reading class, and wait, there ‘s a science project, too…. and next thing you know, the schedule is overflowing with things that make you feel busy and you just can’t get anything done because you are just plain too busy and the things you really want the most are getting lost in the shuffle of the busy.

So let’s make it stop.

Problem is, when I get too busy, and I’m tired, and I’m not sleeping, and I’m not getting enough done, the thing that is most important to me is the thing that really suffer and get lost in the busy. My time to spend with God, it just gets gypped because yes, I can pray in the van while I’m waiting in the pick up line, it’s not bad. And I can listen to Christian music on my phone when I need a devotional moment, and I can talk to God later when the kids are in bed, but oh wait, I still have to finish that laundry and do that thing for work and pay some bills that I forgot and I’m just too tired so God will have to wait to hear from me until tomorrow. And then I don’t get to visit with God and my soul suffers and my heart withers and resentment creeps in where love used to be and it isn’t pretty at all. And that is the number one reason I need to stop the busy.

Let’s make a plan. Let’s stop the busy. Let’s let something go. Pick a thing, any thing, it might be a good thing, and let it go so you can be one thing closer to stopping the busy. Together, let’s do it. Let’s stop the busy.