Sleep Deprivation And Its 5 Torturous Phases
Parenting, as we all know, is a learning curve.
Some of the things I expected to learn and some I didn’t: My Mastermind subject is sorted courtesy of Thomas the Tank Engine and his buddies. I can now maintain friendships with a text every six months and an occasional coffee. And lastly, sleep.
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Sleep deprivation is a cruel and demanding trick that the universe plays on new mammies. Haven’t slept in months because of the bump? Had a rough labour involving being awake for 48 hours straight? Feel like you've been hit by the Coca Cola truck? Great, here’s a newborn baby that isn’t going to sleep for longer than three hours at a go.
1. The "I’m Ok" Phase
Also known as denial. It is chorused up and down the land as parents attempt to function on three hours interrupted sleep. This phase is often characterised by rapid blinking, yawn stifling and half-finished sentences.
Symptoms include: Pounding headache, rapid breathing and repeating the same thing over and over and wondering why you are getting funny looks.
2. Irrational Rage Phase
There is a strange sub-current among Irish parents that no one talks about. The parents of the magical babies that sleep all night. And boy, do they like to talk about it. Surely, you must be doing something wrong, they cry - bad sleepers mean bad parents!
Then comes the pointless advice, pitying looks and some half-hearted sympathising… it's ok, Tarquin only slept in six mornings last week… Advised course of action? Informing the parents of the magical babies that a lack of sleep is a sign of a more intelligent child. I don’t think this is true, but it’s worth it to see their faces.
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3. Darty Eye Phase
This phase is also called the twitchy eye phase. What’s that! A noise! A squeak? A squawk? A rustle? Is it the neighbour’s dog four doors up being let out? A rubbish truck three roads away? Insulate the windows! Shut the doors! The five hours spent rocking your child to sleep must not be wasted. Must. Not. Be. Wasted.
4. Hallucinating Phase
Did I dream that? Did I say that out loud? Have I been here before? All perfectly normal questions to ask after a period of sleep deprivation. They may seem strange to onlookers, but trust me, once you have spent a couple of nights rocking back and forth on the top step of your stairs, it is only natural that your grip on reality is waning… this is temporary though, and normal conversational ability should return once your child has finished college.
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With no immediate end to your sleep woes, it helps a lot to accept this fact and to move it from the forefront of your mind. There are all sorts of sleep solutions to be found, and approaches to be taken. I have found these have not worked for me, but accepting my sleep deprived state as new adventures in mammying has.
Besides, I no longer sleep now, my system has adjusted and I now resemble some weird sort of bat-parent, like a superhero that has no social life and still wears maternity clothes on the sly. You wouldn’t see cat women in these trackies, but I can dive on a squeaky toy with the speed of light. BAM!
Do you have any tips for surviving sleep deprivation?