Friday, December 9, 2011

Sleep patterns of a new era

Who doesn't love sleep? I really haven't heard anyone say "Man, I never want to sleep again!"

Unless you're in a Nightmare on Elm Street movie of course.

I adore sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream! And a chance for the body to be restored. Hamlet was talking about death when he said that by the way, and the type of sleep he wanted wasn't restorative.

Thinking back to all the sleeping I have done in my life, I particularly zone in on the college days of sleeping. On the weekends there were no alarms, and I recall lying in bed for 15, 18 hours. Just napping and laying about. Jumping forward into my late 20s there was the possibility to do that on the weekends, but a sense of responsibility crept in, making it seem slothful to sleep past noon on a Saturday (unless I had been up until 4 of course).

And then the baby came. And sleep was transformed.

It wasn't that I didn't sleep. While my son did wake up every 2-3 hours at night he wasn't a raging maniac. He ate and then went back to bed. I only had to "walk the halls" once with him. That's not too bad considering the other horror stories I've heard. But I feel like since he's been around I've had a veil of sleep around me at all times. I've always been able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat no matter where I was (like the back of a Dropkick Murphy's concert. zzzzzzzzz. I was tired!), but now it's ridiculous. Sleep is always just seconds away, looming. But it rarely lasts long. And that's what is different about having a young child, you sleep but are constantly woken up.

For me, the effect of that is two fold. First, I cannot do everything I used to do mentally. Well, that's not true. But it's more challenging now. Before Baby (BB) I went to work, got everything done and watched TV all afternoon. Now...I come to work and BAM it's 4 o'clock and I've gotten the bare bones of my job done. I do have to say I am more open to distraction now, but I can feel my brain working harder to do the mundane tasks that are required of me.

Second, (and the first is probably directly related to this) is that I find myself in a haze. I drift off, staring into space, as though my mind is taking mini-naps while my body keeps going. So I'm getting stuff done but it's not the high quality that I previously did.

Over the past month I've been paying attention to the amount of sleep I get. I'm logging about 5-6 hours a night. Almost the recommended amount. Almost. Adults need 7-9 hours per night. So I'm under the recommended, but not by too much.

But you're child will get older, my reader(s) are thinking. And that is true. In fact, he already is. He rarely wakes up in the middle of the night anymore (except all of last week), and he is asleep at 7:43 each night until about 7 the next morning.

"What's the problem?" you're thinking.

Well, in this new era of my life (still unnamed) my main problem with sleep is that it's interfering with my life. I would LOVE to go to bed each night at 8:30, but it's just not feasible. I have too much to do. I work all day, come home and take care of my son until he goes to bed, then eat dinner, exercise or go to a meeting, clean, do laundry, make lunches for the next day, and then when I go to sit down for a second it's 11:45 at night and I need to go to bed because I have to be up in 5 hours to get up and meet my crazy new friends at the track for early morning sprints. Luckily enough, I take the train into work each morning, and that 60 minutes can be harnessed as a nap. So this morning I packed a pillow in my bag and really got comfortable.

But now it's 9:15 AM, and I've been at work for over an hour and have yet to reply to an email. I'm not tired, but my mind is in that haze. And I can't go to bed before midnight until Sunday night due to a work dinner and babysitting this weekend, and the most I'll be able to "sleep in" is probably 8 AM tomorrow. IF my son doesn't come running into the room at 7 AM. He always finds me hiding beneath the covers.

I think the Mayo Clinic has it right:

"Although some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep a night, research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don't perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night. Additionally, studies among adults show that getting much more or less than seven hours of sleep a night is associated with a higher mortality rate. "

My complex mental tasks are coming in low. A higher mortality rate. At this point I guess I'll sleep when I'm dead. Perhaps Hamlet had it right.

No comments: