In the Huffington Post today there was an article about women and sleep – and whether getting more of it could help women rise to the top of their fields, professions, games. Motherlode author Lisa Belkin wrote about it too and pondered whether the issue was really a choice for women or whether they often really just had more to do on the homefront – i.e. nursing, waking to a child’s cries, domestic duties, hormonal insomnia, etc. and therefore couldn’t get more sleep even if they wanted to.

I agree that when the wee ones are truly wee, the ball often lands in the mom’s court as far as sleep is concerned. Biologically it’s the deal and there isn’t a whole lot to do about it short of extra work at some other point in the day in regards to pumping and bottling, etc. But I think that after that, when the kids actually do sleep through the night, it’s about choice: Will I get everything done, myself, my way, every night, and suffer the fatigue? Will I solicit some help from the family in regards to domestic duties? Will I turn off the computer and head to bed? Will I even occasionally leave things undone and go for the extra sleep even though the laundry, dishes, paperwork or more is left for another day? I know for myself, there has to be the turn-off point. And whether I do it at 10:00 or midnight, there is never a point of everything being done. And that’s with a partner who does A LOT.

Last fall I was lucky enough to have a consult with a local herbalist, Ginger Webb of Texas Medicinals. I went to her for problems of memory loss. After talking for a while she said, “You’re not suffering memory issues, you’re suffering overwhelm.” She prescribed “profound sleep” (more than 9 hours at a stretch) and an herb tincture called ashwaganda. I love the term profound sleep and I use it now as a guiding force making sure that at least one night a week I get my recommended 9 or more hours. Other nights too I try to cash it in a little earlier than I was leaving my night owl tendencies behind on nights where the morning comes at 6:20 a.m.. And I take the tincture nightly as a way for entering calmly into deep and restful sleep. Both have made a profound difference in how I feel and communicate and go about my days.

Just this past week, in an effort to lighten the work load on both my partner and myself, we reinstituted our family job chart. We had it going for a while, a while back, and then, somehow it just kind of stopped. For nearly a year we’ve been without it – instead randomly assigning jobs and more often too, just deciding to do the jobs ourselves instead. For many of the tasks, somehow we decided it was easier to just do it ourselves – which is only true for the time being, definitely not for the long run. Not that we didn’t have the kids doing things but it was way more random and way more special occasion too. And now, daily tasks are back. With it’s sleek new design and added bonus jobs, and older kids at the helm, I can already see it’s impact on the house. Regularly things get done. With a lot less nagging too because, well, it’s there on the chart.

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So, to the sleep challenge presented by Arianna Huffington, in a roundabout way, the job chart is going to allow me to get more sleep. Because there really is less to do. And even if it’s not done that night, it’ll get done the next day and it doesn’t all have to be done by me, or by my husband either. Do you want to take the more sleep challenge? And if so, how would you go about it?