How I Asked for Help to Support My Season of Choosing to Sacrifice Sleep

by | Aug 9, 2022 | Articles, Blog, Body, Mind, Occupational, PCS / Moving, Personal Growth, Self Care

I am tired. I am tired ALL THE TIME. Not the kind of tired that a Diet Coke would cure, but the kind of tired that does not even seem to go away.

You may think it is because I have four kids under the age of eight. And you’re not really wrong. They do keep me very busy during the day. From school pick-ups and drop-offs, meals, shopping, nap times, reading, homework, play dates and so much more, I hardly have any time for myself.

But there is more to it than that.

The truth is—I am tired because I am a military spouse and I want to maintain my career.

Let me paint a picture for you. I am currently living in Japan. Before moving here, even when I was pregnant and having kids, I worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) during the day. I went to school for seven years to become an SLP and I love what I do.

Usually, I would work a range from fifteen to twenty-five hours a week. This includes face-to-face time with clients, but also paperwork and reports I had to write. SLPs have continuing education we have to pay for every year, and on top of that, there are licensures and certifications we have to maintain for every state we live in. Over my military life, I have been required to have five different state licenses. This all adds up over time and requires me to work on a regular basis, so I can not only afford all the fees for these licenses but also continue to practice to help me be a better clinician.

Fast forward to when we moved to Japan, arriving here in December of 2020. All of a sudden, I was thrown thirteen to seventeen time zones ahead of any potential clients living in the United States. Along with that obstacle, getting a job face-to-face while living overseas in my profession was basically not an option. Getting hired would take six or more months and childcare was very difficult to come by (especially during the height of a worldwide pandemic).

So, what were my options? Stop working and take a break? Have a gap in my resume for three years and still pay all those fees to keep current?

After considerable thought, there seemed to be only one option: working at night. This means that I had to make some significant sacrifices in my life, especially when it came to my sleep. On average, my sleep went from eight hours to less than five a night.

This sacrifice cost me more than just a few extra yawns during the day. My typical health and wellness routine took a back seat. Exercise was a huge chore, so it didn’t happen. My eating habits changed drastically because I needed to eat later in the day in order to stay awake while working, and during the day I would find myself walking around like a zombie, not really getting things done. I gained weight, felt sluggish, and struggled with my mental and emotional health. After all, sleep is VITAL to health and wellness!

I have always needed more sleep. As a teenager, I used to sleep ten to twelve hours a night and nothing could wake me up before my body was ready. When I went to college, I still got at least eight to ten hours a night in spite of being super busy. But now, in my late thirties and after having four kids, I was not able to bounce back, and my life was dictating my schedule.

Something had to change. I couldn’t continue to live like that.

So, I made some changes. I spoke with my husband, explaining that I needed more support during the day. I didn’t want to carry the burden or put on a brave face any longer. He began taking over dinner and the bedtime routine with our kids, so I could get a long nap in the evening. We also hired a sitter every Tuesday for four hours, so I could give myself time to recharge. This may include a nap, getting the paperwork due done during the day so I could sleep as soon as work was completed, or anything else I would need.

I also made changes in the expectations in my life. I started saying “no” to more things, stepping back from meetings and there were no more fancy meals being cooked in this house. The crockpot became my best friend, and sometimes, frozen pizza was on the menu. Weekends shifted from being filled with extracurricular activities to being more laid back with late starts so I could sleep in as late as I wanted.

Sleep is important, but sometimes the seasons in your life as a military spouse will cause you to make sleep not your top priority. Similar to other parts of military life, things will continue to change. You need to know your priorities and they may be different from others around you. People think I am crazy for putting my career over my sleep. However, I know it is temporary. I know it is just a season. I know my priorities. I know that my sacrifice will pay off in the end.


Noralee Jones is a MILSO of fourteen years, mom of four, and the writer/creator at Mrs. Navy Mama. Having experiences with eight deployments, five PCS moves alone, and the author of the Self-Care Guide for MILSOs, she is an expert on the importance of taking the time to focus on filling our bodies, minds, and souls with our individual needs in order to make the most out of our lives. She is also the Co-Author of The Newbie’s Guide to Military Life and focuses on supporting MILSOs through the ups and downs of military life through Mrs. Navy Mama. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

InDependent makes wellness accessible and creates opportunities for all military spouses to connect for friendship, accountability, and inspiration.

We envision a time when all military spouses thrive through connection to community and resources that results in healthy decision-making for themselves and their families.