It’s like a switch that flips about ten days before the end of a month. Two and a half weeks of every month, I fall asleep quickly, sleep all night, and only wake up if a child needs me or if I’m sick. But then something flips my sleep switch off and suddenly I’m restless. I toss and turn, brain racing a mile a minute, and dreams plaguing the sleep that I do get.

Lack of sleep amplifies my daily challenges 100-fold:

the battle of self-discipline: to rise before everyone else so I can start my day slowly and in prayer, eat only what I need, and go to bed at a decent hour

the battle of motherhood: to respond to disrespectful and disobedient, or often just plain childish, children with patience, kindness, and grace

the battle of marriage: to take responsibility for my action or inaction instead of scapegoating my husband and to express love in the language that he hears “I love you”

the battle of time: to resist the call of the couch and the rebellious screams of my body to do what needs to be done

the battle of mind: to tune out the Devil’s whispered lies that I’m under-appreciated, overworked, deserve to indulge myself instead of serve others, and can’t do it so why bother trying?

If I lose even one of these battles, I’m set up to lose the rest of them too.

Honestly? I fail every day.

But, when I’m sleep-deprived, I’m so much more prone to colossal fails in which I don’t even try, instead opting to indulge myself and give in to the inertia of fatigue. And then my colossal fail is followed by complete disaster. My children take advantage of the lack of structure, but they are also adrift and unhappy, volatile and insecure. They feed off my malaise. The house fills with chaos and disarray. We wound each other with our sharp words, blame, and negativity.

The consequences are staggering.

While appealing, I cannot shift all the blame for a monthly massive fail on my particular biorhythm. I am not helpless in the face of exhaustion. But I’m learning that I need to take this predictable pattern into account when planning ahead, by planning ahead.

Two of the most important ways I can set myself up to win those battles is by prioritizing sleep and building in margin.

If I can discipline myself to go to bed, getting up is easier. I’m less rushed, and the day starts out more relaxed. Starting my day with prayer and quiet time reading my Bible helps get my head in the right place (though it is NOT a magic potion guaranteeing a blissful day when everything goes right).

But sometimes I just can’t sleep, no matter what. If I don’t try to pack too much into those days when I know I’ll be more tired than usual, I’m less likely to lose my cool and succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. I am learning to allow extra time to go slower, or to do less.

How do you get the rest you need? How do you compensate when you can’t get the rest you need?

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