Friday, 26 August 2011

Are you a miser of sleep or a squanderer?

I said sleep...
Since Boy One appeared nearly 12 years ago I've been lucky to have had lots of opportunity to study the phenomena of sleep deprivation.

Before then, I was confident arrogant enough to think that anyone who moaned of lack of sleep was a wimp. I had stayed up all night to party, to yacht race or even to go hill walking. Easy peasy - an early night the next day and all's well. Don't know what the fuss is all about.

Fast forward to motherhood, night feeds and early starts. Yawn. Now I get it. To miss a night's sleep when you can be assured of catching up when you need is one thing, to miss chunks of shut-eye night after night when you don't expect to is torture.

But for most of us the gritty-eyed awfulness of it doesn't last. Sure, a loaf-a-thon under the duvet til noon is unheard of but things do improve. And, rather cruelly, if a rare aligment of planets affords such an exotic luxury as a lie-in, I find I wake at 7 head full of Things To Do.

But the years of nocturnal pacing have left me changed. I am stingy with my restedness. If I feel full of sleep and energy, I won't - as I used to - squander it on a late-night reading session. By 11pm I start to get twitchy knowing it could be tomorrow that Boy Three decides he needs a dawn snack. Or his brothers have a nightmare or something. I hoard sleep like a miser reluctant to spend too much, just in case, oh I don't know, just in case there isn't any more coming. Sleep doesn't grow on trees, you know.

Compare and contrast the Panther of News. For a panther he's a night owl by inclination. He's a live-for-the-moment kind of creature. So if he's all napped-up and wide awake, he'll spend, spend, spend. In his case this means sitting up watching the telly or listening to music. But it bothers me, this profligacy. From my point of view, the next time there's some middle of the night Boy action (sadly, this is not a euphemism) he'll start the next day even more weary.

So who's right? Is sleep so precious that we should conserve our restedness at all cost or is life for living however dreadful and dreary you might feel tomorrow?

Meanwhile, in one of the women's magazines, She, I think. There was an article stating that we don't need as much sleep as we think and we're not actually tired, just bored and fed up. Try instead, it suggests, to get up a bit earlier, do exercise and fill your day with stuff that doesn't grind you down. Thanks for that.

4 comments:

  1. I want to be like you, but I'm like the PoN. I get a high from time spent without child, I think, and the idea of sleep becomes less appealing than the idea of being able to do what I want for a Bit Longer! I often regret it, but never learn my lesson!

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  2. Unless I've just done the moonwalk, of course, in which case I have no choice!

    (I do wonder if there is only room for one of each in a family though, Rory is a firm believer in the Sleep Bank)

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  3. I had my younger two boys 16 months apart. I quickly learned the art of the nap, I've never looked back. I couldn't nap before - it was a solid 8 hour stretch or nothing.
    Now, I am able to go into a deep, meditative state in order to refresh myself (I liken it to re-starting the computer). I go to bed between midnight and 2 am, wake at 6.30 and this is fine.
    There's a balance of quantity and quality which is very difficult to get right every day, but this lying in bed for a quarter of our daily 24 hour quota is so last century. We have electricity and central heating now.

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  4. *I mean a THIRD, not a quarter.

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