Let me tell you the two most important reason why I aim for 8 hours of sleep these days, and you should too.

1. It makes me a better mom.

One Tuesday, few weeks ago, my son asked for ice cream repeatedly when he knew it was not treat night (we eat dessert on Wednesdays and Sundays around here.)

“Not only is there no ice cream tonight, but you will never ever get any ice cream ever again!” I burst out.

Before they both started sobbing, I saw the look in my boys’ eyes. I completely lost my cool, and they were afraid. I walked away feeling terrible and tried desperately to understand what went so horribly wrong.

The night before, I stayed up much too late reading a great book. I was just plain exhausted, and nagging I would usually try to defuse with a joke or distraction sent me over the edge.

I apologized to them, and put myself to bed early that night. And then, I gave them ice cream on Wednesday.

2. It allows me to pay attention

I got Mommy brain pretty seriously when I had my first son. It manifests itself in an inability to concentrate well and an inability to remember. I would walk into a room to get something.  While I was in there, I would see something else I needed to do, and not only forget what I came to get originally, but forget that I was there to get something at all.

Most of my friends gave half-embarrassed laughs when I talked about it. “Me too,” they’d say. Turns out that Mommy brain is common, and the culprit? The constant sleep deprivation moms experience during the early years. When I saw this TED talk, it made even more sense – without sleep, your brain is literally full of junk.

The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.  Arianna Huffington 

In her book, Thrive, (an excellent compilation of all sorts of lifestyle wisdom,) Arianna Huffington talks about how she was so sleep deprived that she hit her head on her desk, broke her cheek bone, and needed five stitches above her eye. To me, that seems like a pretty painful wake-up call.

When I have a day when I can’t seem to get much done, and wander aimlessly around my house and to-do list, I put myself to bed early. I will more than compensate for the few work hours I lose that night by my improved efficiency the next morning. How about you?