Category Archives: Sleep

Kathy’s Summer Reading List

KathyYou know that thing where you’re running around like crazy and when you finally stop you can’t even think straight? This summer has had a lot of that. Nothing bad – we’ve taken several trips and gotten to see people we haven’t seen in ages – but it’s been a lot of switching gears. We are almost in the home stretch, and hopefully in the next week or two I’ll get back to posting more regularly. In the meantime, here are a few things that I read recently but didn’t get a chance to post about.


Travel Tips by Introverts, for Introverts from Introvertology

Tiffany and I did a post last summer about travel, but there are lots of great points here I’d never thought of. I love the tips about how to stay anonymous. One thing I’ll add from this summer’s adventures: make sure you bring enough reading material! Doodlebug only brought one book on our most recent trip – hopefully she’s learned her lesson on that one.


People Prefer Electric Shocks to Being Alone with Their Thoughts from The Atlantic

The people in this study were obviously not introverts in the middle of a hectic summer! The craziest part of this to me was that the people had already had a chance to feel the shock before they were left alone – I figured some of it was just curiosity, but nope.


Sleep Study Shows New Moms Are Dangerously Exhausted for Months from PBS Newshour

I can certainly believe this, and I would love it studies like this led to longer maternity leaves. I also think it’s a good argument for better paternity leave policies – iDad was up just as often as I was when Doodlebug was tiny, bringing her to me so I could feed her, then changing her and putting her back in her bassinet. He also fed me yogurt at 4 a.m. and listened to my half-asleep dream ramblings about placemats. Tip: Don’t reproduce with someone who wouldn’t do that for you.


I’ve just fallen in love with Gemma Correll’s artwork – she is the person who made the Map of the Introvert’s Heart illustration I posted on Facebook, and she seems to have lots of other introverty themes in her work.


How to Maintain Your Energy During Busy Times from The Business of Introverts

Speaking of busy times! One thing that has been helping my family stay grounded this summer is our nightly reading time – we sit together and read to ourselves for about half an hour as part of Doodlebug’s bedtime routine. If things get too crazy and we have to skip it, I’m always sorry. [And if you were hoping this was about my real summer reading list… My top picks are Landline by Rainbow Rowell, the two Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith, and Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger. And I can’t wait for Louise Penny’s next mystery, The Long Way Home.]

— Kathy

Let’s Not Call These “Resolutions”

We know, we know – New Year’s resolutions are so two weeks ago. So instead we’re thinking about what we’d like to focus on this year. Call them goals, or, if you want to channel your inner Frenchwoman, perhaps “Mindful Mots.” Bonne année, fellow introverts!


KathyMy major goal for the year is this: preserve my energy for my family. I have a tendency to spend too much time on other (usually worthy) pursuits, only to find that I have nothing left over at home. That doesn’t seem fair to iDad and Doodlebug, and it’s not making me happy.

So this year, I will:

Plan more family outings. If I’m using up energy, I might as well use it with them, right? We just instituted Museum Mondays – each month we’ll pick a museum to visit on one of Doodlebug’s early dismissal days. For the first one, we picked her up from school, drove downtown, enjoyed a planetarium show and some ice cream, and scooted home in the HOV lane. It was a quick trip and the museum wasn’t crowded, so I didn’t even feel too wiped out. Success!

Figure out this whole volunteering thing. I’ve got a handle on the classroom situation this year, but now the Brownie troop requests are piling up. I have to keep reminding myself that there are ten kids in the troop, thus ten sets of parents. It’s not my job to cover everything. The plan: pitch in, but in a way that doesn’t put me in charge of a gaggle of girls any more than absolutely necessary.

Work on the “witching hours” between school pickup and bedtime. Doodlebug often needs time to unwind in the afternoon, which I completely understand. While she chills out, I always seem to find myself sucked in to Facebook and/or cramming in one more work session. Before I know it, it’s past time to start dinner and everyone’s frazzled.  I already have a self-imposed Internet blackout between 6:30 and 8:30, but I’m wondering if I should extend that. I might also try making the time a work-free zone. We used to have a good routine going with game time after dinner, and I’d like to work that back in, too.

My other goal for the year, which I hope will help everything else in my life run more smoothly, is to get more sleep. Seriously and for real. Last night I tried Tiffany’s patented method of going to bed early with a book. I was asleep earlier than usual, but I woke up at 5 AM. Progress?

— Kathy

tiffany_head_128So here they are.  Four things of which I will be mindful in 2014.

1.  Stick to the Schedule. Although part of me loathes being this Type A, maintaining a routine helps enormously. The most important part: a firm bedtime and a firm lights-out time. After a few consecutive nights I start waking up before the alarm goes off. For anyone who knows me well, this is roughly equivalent to the Jesus-turning-water-into-wine thing: a MIRACLE.

The goal here is not only to ensure adequate rest but to start getting up earlier so I can …

2.  Move My Ass. In 2009, motivated by the abject fear of wearing a bathing suit on a Hawaiian vacation, I hired a personal trainer. It was mentally and physically transformative. After the trip I got pregnant with Lunchbox and well, let’s just say three and a half years later I have some baby jiggle to jettison. And for transparency’s sake there’s cookie, pasta, and wine jiggle to firm up too.

My trainer moved to the West Coast and hiring a new one isn’t in the budget. So I’ve discovered the Cafemom channel on YouTube; FitBottomedGirls is also another helpful site. At work I’ve started printing documents to a machine three flights of stairs above my office. And, in defiance of the Desk Lunch culture in my office, I’ve begun walking for thirty minutes after eating.

My goals are small and appropriate given my life right now. This helps to …

3.  Set Up for Success. Yes, this is a phrase most likely found on one of those cheesy posters in the Dunder Mifflin office. Establishing achievable objectives, however, is key to keeping my introvert self happy.

For example I will no longer cram the weekend “To Do” lists full of tasks I know are impossible to finish. This weekend’s list includes:


  • Exercise 30 minutes
  • Complete grocery list
  • Do three loads of laundry
  • Write five thank you notes


  • Exercise 30 minutes
  • Do three loads of laundry
  • Prep and cook two meals
  • Write five thank you notes

You get the idea.  While it is challenging to let go — particularly when staring down Slim’s black hole of a closet or Lunchbox’s toy-bombed room — it helps to repeat “Martha Stewart is not coming over today.” Critical chores get priority and thus downtime becomes available. A bit of spare time allows me to …

4.  Write It Out. Remember this post? No need to repeat why writing is so important to me. I am thankful, dear reader, to have an audience and an excuse to marinate in my own thoughts once a week.

I am hopeful these four simple mots will, as Kathy writes, help to better manage my energy levels and to generate more, if possible, for my family. Because at the end of the day being a happy and sane partner to Dreamy and a good mom to Slim and Lunchbox is the whole point.

Now. Raise your hand if you want Beyoncé to make a workout video.

— Tiffany

Tiffany’s Totally Unscientific Theory About Introverts and Sleep

In which one of the Moms pretends to be something she’s not.


tiffany_head_256Remember our post about sleep? We shared some research that concluded introverts do fine on less sleep while extroverts hit the wall without enough shuteye. This is largely due to the way our brains are wired and how we respond to certain stimuli. At the end I theorized introverts need more sleep than extroverts, contrary to the study results.

Because, you know, I am a scientist.

My theory has been somewhat refined thanks largely to this brilliant visual. Here goes:  the more time I spend outside my hamster ball the more sleep I need.

Being outside that ball exhausting. Having people reach inside that ball is exhausting. For introverts, as we all know, this is akin to hooking up our internal battery to some giant, power-sucking device (this comes to mind) and letting it drain our battery right down to empty. 

I’ve observed if I don’t get adequate recharge time physical exhaustion is sure to follow.  Ignoring the tired leads to illness and before I know it I’m bowled over by a sore throat, a sinus infection, or some other respiratory nastiness. And we all know if Mommy is sick everyone suffers.

As a result of this earth-shattering knowledge I have taken a few steps to address the fatigue issue:

1.  Limiting gluten. “So trendy!” you might think. Honestly, however, reducing it has made my energy levels noticeably higher. My legendary ability to consume massive amounts of sweets is going to make holiday baking a challenge this year but in 2014 I plan to eliminate gluten entirely.

2.  Scheduling bedtime. Usually I’m in bed by 9:30 p.m. and read until 10.  Does this happen every night? No. (Damn you, New Yorker magazine!) But the more I stick to the schedule the more rested I feel. And 30 minutes of reading is a good way to transition between being outside the hamster ball and going back in.

3.  Redefining weekend time. This was a tough one but running around like the proverbial poulet sans tête on Saturdays and Sundays does not equal recharging. I am happy to do my chores and spend time with the kids, but at a certain point I need to sit down and be still. It is helpful to make lists, of course, and to set a “Busy Work” time limit.

4.  Taking naps. One per weekend if possible. My body tells me how long to sleep:  sometimes it’s only 30 minutes while other times it’s a two and a half hour monster snooze with Lunchbox.

5.  Drinking water. Tiredness is an easily overlooked symptom of dehydration, and while drinking a lot of water is easy at work it is difficult at home. Thus a new rule:  every time I go into the kitchen (which is A LOT) I drink a glass.

Fellow introverts, have you noticed this about yourselves?  If so how do you cope?

Off to get more H²0.

— Tiffany


Who Needs Sleep?

The Moms do, because this week we are too tired to come up with a witty intro.


I recently read Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think because, well, who doesn’t want more time? I liked her suggestion of figuring out what your “core competencies” are – the things that are most important to you or that only you can do – and eliminating or outsourcing the rest. It helps with all the saying no that we talked about last week. Making my own cheese? Not a priority for me. Handcrafting all my holiday cards? Not a priority for me. Having all the laundry done? Not, apparently, a priority for me.

You know what else is not at the top of my list? Sleep. Anyone who knew me before kids will tell you that’s crazy because, you guys, I was such a good sleeper. I’m a night owl, so I’d stay up until 1 or 2 AM and then sleep till late morning. Okay, or noon. But there are several reasons I’ve had to give up my champion sleeper crown.

  1. The sweet, little-girl-shaped alarm clock we acquired seven years ago

  2. Insomnia (grrr)

  3. Downtime

One of these things is entirely under my control. I could be asleep every night at 10:00. I know this, and every so often I will vow to be better. I will avoid the Internet rabbit hole and not even turn my laptop on at night. I will not read one more chapter. I won’t start that second episode of Friday Night Lights because by the time it’s over it will be too late and I’ll be exhausted and okay, but this is the last one, I promise! It never lasts. 11:30 is my set point.

Doodlebug goes to bed at 8:30, and by then I’ve survived school pick-up (often with playground mom-chatting), the trip home (often chasing after her on her scooter), homework, making dinner, cleaning up, bathtime, reading time (ahh), and the bedtime routine. Yes, I work at home, and yes, I spend a lot of time by myself during the day, but that evening stretch is brutal. At that point I definitely deserve a prize, and that prize is time to myself.

I find it very, very hard to cut this time short. I’ve thought about it a lot – is time awake really more restorative for me than sleep? Physically, it’s obviously not, and I’m not a happy person (or a very pleasant person) when I’m sleep-deprived. But I am a happy person when I get three hours to myself to do whatever I want.

Is there a better way? Probably. I’ve had success with an “Offline after 11” policy, which means I don’t stay up till the wee hours reading blogs anymore. I could bump that forward, at least on some nights. Or I could alternate early and late nights, but whenever I try to set a strict schedule like that I get derailed. So my main strategy is just hanging on till Doodlebug starts sleeping in until ten.

Or nine. I’d take nine at this point. Eight? Zzzzzzz.

— Kathy

tiffany_head_128I stood in the pediatrician’s parking lot, leaning into Dreamy and sobbing my head off. Not petite ladylike sobs, mind you, but guttural, heaving, movie-worthy sobs. It was February 2011 and seven-month old Señor Lunchbox had just been diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). He’d been coughing incessantly for three or four days and his doctor blithely delivered the news with a “Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.  It usually only lasts a week or so.”

Thus began one of the darkest, most terrifying parts of my life. What the pediatrician failed to grasp was that no one had slept – neither Dreamy, nor Lunchbox, nor I – for those three or four days. Lunchbox was so sick he was only able to sleep for about 45 minutes to an hour at a time before another fit of vicious hacking woke him and, by default, us, because when your child sounds like he’s strangling that kind of happens.

I was obviously deeply worried about Lunchbox, but at that moment, the idea of enduring for another seven or even more days without at least a few consecutive hours of rest pushed me over the edge. “I am so tired” was all I could manage to squeak out between sobs.

This tired was different than my usual tired. I have always been a crappy sleeper (apparently this is another trait of Highly Sensitive People) and although I love to sleep, I rarely feel rested even after nine or even ten hours in bed. I had survived two newborns and Lunchbox had acid reflux-related sleep issues from birth, thus feeling worn out and being sleep deprived weren’t exactly new experiences. This Super Sick Kid tired, however, was cruel and deep and unrelenting and further compounded by loops of endless mental what-if-ing.

The virus lasted for about ten days. My ability to function during this time was so impaired that I did a number of incredibly stupid things, such as drive a car and call my Very Important Boss insisting that a colleague had intentionally sabotaged a project. (Note to bosses everywhere: please don’t ever reprimand an employee for doing something like this when you know a sick child is involved. And when you’ve been kept in the loop about the situation the entire time.) I narrowly avoided crashing the car but succeeded at shooting myself in the foot at work.

Some introverts, including my personal hero Susan Cain, tentatively assert that we can get by on less sleep. Jonathan Rauch thinks that “For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.”  Neither of these seem quite right. Lunchbox’s illness taught me that I am ok with getting by on less, but at some point large blocks of sleep will be required to chip away at whatever sleep deficit has been created.

And while I have no data to support this claim, I am going to go ahead and say that introverts across the board require more sleep than extroverts. Sleep is the ultimate recharge; so if introverts require more recharging than extroverts, introverts without sleep are probably going to fry faster than an egg on a Foreman Grill.

— Tiffany