Sleep is the New Awake

(As appears in August 09 issue of You:

I suffer from an affliction called Lack of Sleep. Caused by stupidity (self diagnosed).

I think most of us who have lived with a newborn have realised with fuzzy clarity exactly why sleep deprivation is a highly effective torture strategy favoured by those in the torture business.

Anyone who’s ever been pregnant has also more than likely become acquainted at some stage with an over-powering compulsion to sleep that overrides every other priority.

Casting my memory back to my first pregnancy I remember the frustration at not being able to stay awake until 8.30pm so I could watch Survivor(!). But, by my second pregnancy, I barely noticed the tiredness. I think by that stage I was pretty used to the constant exhaustion and the need to push through it to get stuff done.

Why am I still up?

These days the stupidity that feeds my lack of sleep is in turn fuelled by a little thing known as Not Enough Hours in the Day. You with me? Thought so.

I don’t know about you but I get so much done after my children go to bed I spend at least a couple of hours most nights busying about. By the time I’ve forced myself to close down the laptop, it’s usually quite late.

But it’s also quite quiet. At that hour I’m rarely interrupted or needed. I’m usually on my own and I can read, watch TV, listen to music, Tweet or just about anything that is enjoyable and can be done at home. Invariably, I never want that time each night to end and I crawl into bed at a ridiculous hour. Ridiculous because of what time I have to get up the next day and ridiculous considering it’s the same ridiculous time that I ridiculously went to bed the night before.

It’s amazing what we can get used to. I’ve been maintaining a relatively decent quality of life since suffering from Lack of Sleep for some time now. And surely, this is a signature skill of The Motherhood? In every 24 hour period we cram so many duties in the name of our children, our partners, beauty regimes, fitness, home cleanliness and management, businesses, extended families, friendships, hobbies ... and on and on.

You Gotta Fight for your Right to Sleep

Not long ago, I experienced an unusual 24-hour period of Extreme Sleep Lackage that reminded me of exactly the kind of stamina us mums can pull out of the hat when required.

It began during a summer long weekend following a lovely family day out playing bowls and enjoying a barbie to celebrate one of my friend’s birthday. Part Two of the festivities involved a night out on the town.

On this particular occasion, I decided to stay home with the kids and encouraged my husband to go out for some fun. Since the birth of our second child he has been particularly accommodating of my need to head out with friends once a month or so to regain some sanity. He was way overdue for his own - as I lovingly refer to it - Get Out of Gaol Free Card.

Initially, it didn’t seem like such a bad deal. The kids were exhausted so fell asleep easily and I settled in for some chilled out me-time with a chilled glass of wine on the balcony. Next stop would be chocolate-consumption and DVD viewing. Perfect!

The first part of the evening went ahead as planned, so I moved inside for the movie watching portion of the programme. This did not fare as well.

Without warning, the apartment next to mine signalled the commencement of what sounded like was going to be a rockin’ good party if you were there and a night in hell if you lived balcony-adjacent.

Instead of a pop-culture rich evening, I was unavoidably audio linked with next door’s party whether I liked it or not (and I did not). The only things I was able to do to while away the hours was pray to be spared permanent hearing loss and to wonder how in god’s name my children were still sleeping soundly.

Around 1am I started thinking in earnest about a few of my old neighbours from back in my twenties. (And a big hello to those that lived in the vicinity of my old residences on The High Road, Willesden Lane and Dillon Road; you can feel vindicated in the knowledge that karma has been served).

It wasn’t until 4am when the other neighbours reached breaking point and the police arrived to suggest that the revellers might draw the evening to a close.

Fast-forward to 4.30am when the ringing in my ears subsided enough for me to drift off into a fifteen-minute doze before it was time to be awoken by my husband’s clumsy noisy boozy return to the fold.

He’d had a good night out so I listened politely to some highlights and because he loves me he had the decency to fall into a beer-inspired coma and spare me anymore details. Ah sleep; manna from heaven.

And I didn’t mind the beckoning from my children to arise soon after, nor did I have a problem with the birthday party I took my son to that morning that was held at the noisiest, busiest playland in the entire world, and I didn’t begrudge the rest of the day of general mum-duties...

And when one of the guys having a few quiet kegs at the downstairs neighbours’ accidentally walked in my front door that evening, frightening the living daylights out of me and proving that my husband had pretty fast reflexes in defending his home even hung-over, half-asleep and underwear-clad, I felt it was probably time to wise up, cut my losses and catch some Zs.

So what did I do instead? Of course I sat up finishing a few chores, preparing for the week and watching Sunday night Rove.

See? Stupid.

But all that is about to come to an end. I have finally received a piece of information that has made me realise the benefits of sleep above clarity of thought, memory formation and disease avoidance. Apparently, getting enough shut-eye is strongly linked with weight loss. Enough said. (Truly. All this talk of sleep is exhausting.)

‘ Night.

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