One morning, after a particularly rough night with an infant who was perfectly happy to wake Mommy up every 98 minutes for yet another 17 minute nursing session, my two older daughters tiptoed sweetly into my room and in soft, cheerful little voices said, “Good morning, Mommy!” Now how did I respond to that precious little greeting? Well, I promptly dissolved into tears. These were not sentimental tears that overflowed out of my love for my daughters. No, these were tears of mourning and self-pity: mourning over a sleep opportunity gone bad during the night, and self-pity because now I had to get up and be Fun Mommy and it would be 15 hours before Sleep Opportunity would come again. That’s when I knew I was Sleep-Deprived. Once I realized this, I started noticing other little signs throughout my day that pointed to this diagnosis, and if any of these are present in your life, you are probably Sleep-Deprived, too. For example:
–You might be Sleep-Deprived if you find yourself putting the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the refrigerator after fixing breakfast.
–You could be Sleep-Deprived if your friend with no kids is excited that they get to sleep late tomorrow and all you can do is smile through clenched teeth, knowing that your kids don’t know the definition of “sleep late.”
–You might be Sleep-Deprived if, when you hear another friend with no kids complain because they had to get up early (9:00 am!), you just want to growl at them.
–You are most definitely Sleep-Deprived if you hear the afore-mentioned friend talking about the two hour nap they had to make up for getting up so early (remember: 9:00 am!!) and you have a sudden urge to kick them in the shin.
–You may possibly be Sleep-Deprived if some caring individual volunteers to stay home with your kids so you can go out alone with your husband for the first time in six months, and all you can think is, “What I really want is for you to take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese and let me stay here and sleep!”
–You are probably Sleep-Deprived if, on that first date in six months, by the time the previews are over and the movie begins, your husband has already had to wake you up twice. (Okay, so this hasn’t actually happened to me, but if it’s happened to you, you probably need a nap.)
–Finally, there’s a pretty good chance you’re suffering from Sleep Deprivation when, while watching your favorite TV show, a commercial for sleeping pills comes on showing adults sleeping peacefully and waking up rested and smiling, and it’s all you can do to refrain yourself from punching the TV screen.
If you could identify with four or more of these scenarios, then you and I probably both need to go take a nap. Also, please note that I am not a violent person by nature. All of these violent urges I mentioned above are just another symptom of not having enough sleep. If you find yourself developing similar impulses to growl, kick, or punch just because someone else got a good night’s rest, then please do us all a great service and go to bed early tonight before you hurt someone.
Also, if you found yourself nodding and agreeing with me, but your tiredness is due to your own poor habits of staying up reading or playing on the Internet all hours of the night, or if it’s just a one-time even after an all-night studying session or something, then I’m afraid you really don’t deserve to count yourself among the truly Sleep-Deprived. If, however, you are part of the weary multitude stumbling through the day after experiencing sleepless night after sleepless night, then you’ll probably be as comforted as I was to hear someone reassure me that this won’t last forever; your kids will become teenagers who will suddenly want to sleep around the clock. Well, for me, that’s a mere 4509 sleepless nights away. I feel so much better now.