One of the big stories last week was about how children in the U.S. don't get enough sleep. On average, they sleep two hours less than the recommended times. The articles briefly touched on adults' lack of sleep, but if you ask me, they didn't go far enough.
Adults -- especially parents -- are so overworked and overstressed that they don't get the needed 8-9 hours of sleep, and they have a hard time getting their kids to bed on time.
Their weekdays are spent working on projects that were due yesterday, tackling emergencies as they pop up, managing staffers, working with management and so on. These long days leave them worn out. But it doesn't end there.
If you are a parent, you leave work at, say, 5:30 p.m. You usually have to pick up the kids at daycare, after-school care, the babysitter's, etc., which means on a good day you don't get home until 6:30 p.m.
Then there's your spouse or partner to greet (if he or she isn't still working), pets to care for, dinner to make, the kids' backpacks to go through, mail to check and so on. So, you leave your stress-filled job to go home to more stress.
It's a daily game of beat the clock to get your kids to bed on time -- let alone get all your chores done. And some days you just say forget it and take it slower, which pushes bedtime back even further. And of course, your day doesn't end once the kids go to bed. There's still the next day's lunches, laundry, cleaning, etc. And chances are, you're putting in a few hours of work at home, too.
You finally get into bed after midnight only to find yourself worrying about a project at work and then one of your kids calls for you. Now you're both missing sleep time, and you wake up at 5:30 a.m. the next day in a bad mood and having to do the whole routine again.
No one wins by having this type of schedule. You can't focus on your work, you argue with co-workers, you snap at your kids, and you yell at your spouse. It's time for employers to recognize that they're demanding too much of their workers, and at home we need to learn to let go of some things and relax.
Does any of this sound familiar? E-mail me and let me know if you're sleep-deprived and if it's affecting your work. And tell me what you're doing to improve things. If you have any advice, I'll share it with the others. I'm sure we could all use some good tips.
This was first published in April 2004