Research says that sleep is important. The APA says that sleep effects your brain, heart, metabolism, and Immune system. (http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx) We all know that we’re supposed to get 8 uninterrupted hours.
I can’t remember the last time that I slept for 8 uninterrupted hours.
It’s been at least three years.
I’m not really sure what’s supposed to happen if you don’t sleep for years, but it can’t be good. It probably results in terminal insanity. Or wrinkles. Or Mumps. I don’t know.
“Why?” you ask.
Well, because my girl doesn’t sleep either. She has slept through the night fewer than five times in her life. Two and a half years and I’ve been woken up at least once every night. Sometimes as often as every half hour. And those few nights she slept? I woke up because I am used to waking up.
I don’t know why she doesn’t sleep well. I do know that it’s genetic and that it will get better for the most part when she hits puberty, but that she will struggle with insomnia for the rest of her life. I know because my mom told me that this is what I did. Then she laughs in a kind of maniacal way that makes me think that the effects of sleep deprivation are permanent.
So, the last couple of weeks have been rough. First she had allergenic foods making her wake up more frequently. Then she had the flu, which caused her to sleep worse. Finally she just was gassy for days. So, I haven’t had more than 2 hours of consecutive, uninterrupted sleep in three weeks.
It sucks. It makes me mad. It leaves me foggy and without energy all day.
It also isn’t that big of a deal. I still cope. I still take care of my girl. I still clean my house and stay up late to have time with my husband and make all the meals and do all the laundry and pay our bills on time and keep track of all the fiddly little things that make life work.
But it makes me less sympathetic. I want to laugh at the women who are stressing out because their six month old doesn’t sleep through the night. I want to dump a cup of stale juice on the women who complain that they’re tired because their toddler has woken up early every day this week, or doesn’t want to take their second nap anymore. Because they don’t get how much worse it could be. They could NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.
When I talk about this to people, they invariably ask me if I’ve just let her cry. I always answer calmly, “No.”
What I want to tell them is, “No! What kind of sick psycho leaves a small child alone in their bed when they wake up in the middle of the night and call for mommy. If she wakes up and needs to go potty, she still needs help in the middle of the night. If she wakes up from a nightmare, she needs to be held and comforted. She is only two. She has had two years to learn about the world and she’s doing her best but she’s still very, very little. Sure, I need sleep, but her needs win.
I WILL NOT LET MY DAUGHTER CRY ALONE, SCARED IN THE DARK.” I want to scream that last part and then, every time, I want to pour my coffee, which I drink at a mildly tepid temperature, over their heads. Which is why I stick to, “No.”
So, I’ll keep going. I’ll keep getting up and comforting nightmares and taking her potty and soothing her when her tummy hurts. The alternative is to let her cry and that’s just unacceptable. And besides, sleep is for wimps.
…Still, I think I’ll give her some time with Daddy this weekend and take a nap.