It is annoying to find yourself awake at odd hours when you know you have a full day waiting, which by the way, comes with the expectation that you show up with an ability to think and participate with others. There should be no mystery involved when it comes to getting to sleep and staying asleep. Babies are so good at it.
They might fuss and howl first, but inevitably babies will close their little eyes and just sleep. And while they are deeply asleep, an infant in the same room that has succumbed to slumber will be oblivious to you, your voice or the dog barking outside.
At some point in the game this affinity for sleep no longer happens. For some people, sleep deprivation and unwanted wakefulness is a chronic issue that has its own name. We call it “Insomnia,” and although there are many, many causes of insomnia, for your reading pleasure here today, I blame parenthood.
I recall years of my young adulthood spent sleeping in on the weekends, my eyes closed, my mind totally offline until the sun had been up for at least 3 hours. With no where to go in any hurry and no one waiting for me to provide them with their first meal of the day I was queen of my own castle, captain of my own ship, ruler of the roost, sleeping when I chose to.
Then I got all misty eyed and maternally inclined and decided to satisfy my longing for motherhood. Along with the pure joy of welcoming a child into the world to nurture, love and care for I found a depth of feeling I had never before experienced. The tradeoff however, was the ability, inclination and opportunity to sleep through the night and sleep in on weekends.
Who knew there were so many sounds in the dark of night that would mimic the stirring of a tiny human being? And I was not aware that my tiny miracle was capable of screaming so persistently at 2:00 AM. No one told me these things. We worked it out, but a heads up might have been nice.
So now, these many years and 5 children later (no I am not Catholic or a Mormon I just love kids), I have either broken my sleep “On” button or I have just never re-learned sleeping like a baby. Oh, I confess to stretches of time when, with good sleep hygiene I have managed a succession of nights with 6 or 7 hour stretches of sleep.But truth is, after parenthood I have not recovered either my cherished late adolescence sleep-coma, or my wild and crazy 2o-something up until 2:00 at work the next day at 8:00 then sleep for 10 hours recovery.
The sleep cycles of my maturity are a charming pattern of sleep and wakefulness followed by sleep and wakefulness. Early to bed, early to rise has new meaning and is often combined with the question, “Have I slept since 3:00 AM?”