Fighting the fight of the sleep deprived

Joining the ranks of unrested Canadians needing a good night's sleep.

It’s 4 p.m. and I’ve just hit the wall.

No, not literally. I’m referring to the afternoon slump, that point in the day when mental exhaustion sets in, and writing a lengthy, detailed story about, say, how sitting at your desk eight hours a day will supposedly decrease your lifespan by 20 per cent (thank you Mayo Clinic) is out of the question. The risk of errors and omissions is too great, as is the probability of my passing out on the keyboard.

Yesterday at this time of day I felt great, with plenty of energy.

Why do I feel this way now then?

Oh, right, the night visitor.

Two months ago, my family moved into a new place. The adjustment is a work in progress. Part of this has to do with our five-year-old son’s sleeping habits. Well, one habit really. It seems he can no longer sleep through the night in his own bed.

Our son’s sleepy eyed, bedroom-to-bedroom pilgrimage occurs at around 1 a.m. He’ll open our bedroom door, crawl into our bed in between us and fall asleep. Which wouldn’t be terrible if his version of “sleep” complemented ours. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Sleep for him involves a lot of fidgeting, grabbing and kicking, and that’s on top of the tossing and turning like an adult who’s consumed too much caffeine too late in the day.

So, once again, we find ourselves having to help our son re-establish a healthy sleep ritual that, ideally, will benefit us all. So far this hasn’t been easy – not that I expected it to be. Our son has become more fluent in the English language, and has clued in to words he know will sting. As I learned the other night, he’s not afraid to do use them when being helped/herded back to his own bed. I don’t take it personally, but it doesn’t help matters any.

The effects of sleep deprivation on children are well documented on the Internet: defiant/contrary behaviour, difficulty waking up, poor concentration during the day, need for long naps, etc. Thankfully, the Internet also offers plenty of help/solutions to our far-from-unique situation.

The same goes for adults dealing with sleeping issues, of which there are apparently, a great many.

A 2011 report by the World Association of Sleep Medicine (yes, that’s a real thing) indicated Canadians – both adults and children – are experiencing an epidemic of sleep disorders. Co-incidentally,studies indicate the prescription sleeping pill industry has done quite well over the past decade. I suspect sales of sleep-related supplements such as melatonin, have also been on the rise. But not all solutions come from a bottle. Re-establishing a healthy sleep pattern may only require relatively minor lifestyle changes: avoid caffeine after lunch, exercise (though not close to bed time), lower the temperature in your bedroom at night and try to keep the noise down.

Of course, none of that helps when the source of one’s sleep disturbance is a child who, for one reason or another, is determined to establish his or her own little groove in the middle of mommy and daddy’s bed.

Another joy of parenting you don’t really think about until it happens to you.

Is it 5 p.m. yet? Better yet, is it bedtime?

 

 

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