Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Past Deadline: It Kills Me To Wake Up

Sunday night was a great night for sleeping. The temperature was perfect. I was tired. It had been a busy weekend. When I fell into bed Sunday night I was primed for some heavy-duty sleeping.

Can you guess where this is going?

First, Girlchild crashed into the room at 1:30 a.m. I tucked her back into her bed then fumed as she tried to figure out what CD might lull her to sleep. I’m not always the role model for patience in the middle of the night. An hour or so later, Boychild was at the foot of the bed. Back to bed for him, too.

Who are these people who are trying to kill me? And they ARE trying to kill me – don’t even bother suggesting they’re not. I read about it in the newspaper, so it must be true.

I laughed when I looked at the front page of the Ottawa Citizen on Monday morning and saw the headline: “Sleepless nights can prove deadly, study suggests: Risk of premature death three times higher.

“See?” I said to my children. “You’ll kill me if you won’t let me sleep!”

Whatever, Mom.

Of course the story had more to do with people who suffer from insomnia, but I wouldn’t be the first person to take a suitable quote out of context. The lead was also appealing: “Dying for a good night’s sleep? That may be truer than you think.”

The article indicated a group of people in the U.S. was surveyed over several years, and they were asked to indicate how often they had trouble falling asleep or getting back to sleep, or if they awakened repeatedly or too early.

I immediately picked up on that awakening repeatedly thing. Probably there is a technical difference between being awakened and your body waking itself, but hey! Sleep is sleep. There are particular times in the night when, if I am awakened, I have an awful time falling back to sleep. (It wasn’t a problem Sunday night – it’s just people wouldn’t leave me alone.)

According to the story, people are considered to have chronic insomnia if they report any of those symptoms more than five times per month over a period of a few years. Hm. Does that mean parents of small children are, in general, insomniacs?

The article goes on to say how more research is needed, particularly to look at the different types of insomnia symptoms and how they relate to specific causes of death, as well as whether death-by-insomnia (my term) is connected to other chronic conditions.

The point is, though, that “sleep is essential to life.”

No kidding.

Although it is not perfectly understood what is so crucial about sleep, it is known short sleep affects stress hormones. (Those would be my short-fuse days.) Stress, of course, affects metabolism and this can lead to a whole bunch of other problems with the immune system or make it difficult to function well on a daily basis because, well, you’re just too tired!

This is nothing new. We all know things don’t necessarily go very well when we’re tired. I know my kids waking me up in the night from time to time does not make me an insomniac – it just makes me cranky.

So, what can I do about this little problem? I have some ideas:

1. If I sleep in a tent in the backyard, it would be harder for the children to find me in the night and they’d have to wake up Groom-boy every time.

2. Maybe I could install one of those invisible fences for dogs at the bedroom door so people who cross the line would get a little jolt.

3. Ear plugs. Big ones.

4. Work all night and sleep while the kids are at school.

5. Put it into perspective by having another baby so we can look back fondly on all the sleep we were getting. (NOT going to happen.)

6. Duct tape. I’m not sure what I would use it for, but it generally solves all problems, right?

7. Suck it up. This too shall pass. After all, it’s not as if the kids are up every night. It only seems like it is.

Sweet dreams, let’s hope!

Published in The Perth Courier, June 10/10

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