What is “momsomnia,” and what can I do about it?
“Momsomnia,” “Revenge bedtime procrastination”- call it what you like, but we know what it is at its core. It is delaying bedtime to do things when it is quiet. Lack of sleep in adults can worsen stress, irritability, anxiety, depression, memory, attention and concentration . . . not to mention all the physical consequences of sleep loss (for instance, reduced immune function, poorer balance and coordination, negative effects on heart and brain health).
Is momsomnia the same thing as insomnia?
Nope, they are different. Having momsomnia, or revenge bedtime procrastination, or sleep avoidance is different than having insomnia. Bedtime procrastination is when you don’t make sleep a priority and get caught up in other things before actually going to sleep. People with insomnia, on the other hand, struggle with falling or staying asleep even when they make it a priority and go to bed.
If you believe you are struggling with insomnia, consult with your health care provider or go to the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine’s website to find a qualified provider who can help (https://behavioralsleep.org/).
What can I do about my momsomnia?
It can be very tempting to try and steal back some of the nighttime once your little ones go to bed in order to get some peace and quiet to yourself. Making time for yourself is extremely important for stress management and mental health. However, there is a delicate balance between finding time to engage in quiet and enjoyable activities at night while also making time for sleep. Although keeping to a perfect early bedtime every night isn’t really possible for most people, building in a few nights every week when you consistently go to bed early can be helpful. If that’s still a challenge, work on turning things off and going to sleep 5-10 minutes earlier every week so you still have your evening solitary activities but balance it with getting enough sleep.
Here are a few more ways to combat momsomnia:
1. Dedicate time to decompress, with a firm stopping time – possibly even using an alarm to remind you to put things down.
2. If you tend to read or scroll on your phone at night, use a reminder or alarm to shut it down as well.
3. Turn off “auto play” on the television to prevent zoning out and automatically starting the next episode of your favorite show.
4. Work on ensuring your children have a solid bedtime so you can build your night around their usual sleep time.
5. Remember your WHY for wanting and/or needing more sleep. In other words, WHY is it important to you and your life or household that you get a bit more sleep?
6. Write a reminder that better sleep leads to more productivity and the ability to complete tasks more efficiently.
Take back your sleep and still have time for yourself – it’s all about balance!
Shelby Harris, PsyD, DBSM is a licensed psychologist who is board certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine. She is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She is also the author of The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia: Get a good night’s sleep without relying on medication (W.W. Norton Books). Learn more about Dr. Harris here and on Instagram @SleepDocShelby.