I have recently completed a two year marathon of sleep deprivation. It's been longer than that - pregnancy had me peeing and tossing and turning in the December heat before our colicky, cat napper made her appearance into the world - but we will round it off. Initially, my sleep was so disrupted that I started experiencing delusions. I would wake in the middle of the night unable to find our baby in her cot or in our bed. I would shake my husband, frantically asking "where is the baby?" He'd look at me perplexed and say, "in your arms". Who knew? Sleep deprivation, literally, causes craziness.
I remember falling asleep in the garden, on the beach, in the car... anywhere I could. In fact I became a bit obsessed about the whole thing. How much sleep was I not getting? How much sleep was our baby not getting? How was our baby so happy and busy despite such a bad night?
After a particularly difficult night I would have irrational thoughts all day. Everything would be overwhelming. Difficult colleagues were earth shatteringly irritating, chores were endless and unbearable and small talk was completely unnecessary. I would make a decision over and over because my ability to have a cohesive thought process seemed obliterated. My skin would mirror my irritability. I would be itchy & scratchy thanks to elevated histamine levels. My eyes were dry and swollen. My body ached all over. I had headaches regularly. Energy conservation became my number one goal. "What can I not do?" became my mantra.
We tried everything (desperation makes you buy all kinds of 'solutions') but the final coping strategy was Tuesday night sleep overs at a GREAT friend's house. I was guaranteed one night of 8 hours of good sleep a week. The result? Wednesdays I loved my husband. Wednesdays I coped better with our toddler. Wednesdays I got more chores done. Wednesdays I used to think "oh, my life isn't actually that bad after all" because life isn't that bad after a good sleep!
My point? Sleep is fuel. Wonderful, nutritious, beautiful fuel for our souls, for our bodies and for our lives. Live longer. Remember more. Stay married. Don't die of a stroke or heart attack. Fight with your kids less. Drive safer. Lose weight. Eat healthier meals. All you have to do is sleep well.
Invest in doing less stuff and sleeping more. Sleeping as little as you can to do as much work/play/TV watching as you can is serving no one. Get to bed!