The Sleep Revolution

Many moms think about sleep...longingly, like a rose, or old lover. Very few have time to read a book about sleep, so I read one for you, Arianna Huffington (founder of The Huffington Post)'s The Sleep Revolution.

According to an Australian study, after being awake for 17-19 hours, subjects can experience levels of cognitive impairment equal to having .05% blood alcohol, just under the legal limit. A few more hours of staying awake, and that impairment rises to 0.1%, legally drunk. Huffington's book cites harrowing statistics from the CDC: drowsy U.S. drivers are involved in 328,000 accidents each year, 6400 of which result in deaths.

Driving while sleep-deprived is impaired driving.

Terrifying thought, since most new parents (especially moms breastfeeding their babies all night long) are chronically sleep-deprived.

Speaking of moms, according to Dr. William Dement, founder of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic, working mothers with young children at home have seen additional 241 hours of work and commute time added to their lives annually since 1969.

Not only do women get to do it all now, we have to do it all. With less sleep and more driving.

Perhaps one of the worst afflictions is insomnia when one is sleep-deprived. So many hours have I lain wide awake in bed, hating myself before an important day. I've tried Chinese acupressure points, visualization...and if I remembered I had melatonin in a plastic drawer in the closet I would have taken that, too.

My daughter seems to have the same problem. At almost seven, she still fights sleep and wakes up freaking out in the middle of the night, crying, inconsolable, but not completely awake. Some call it night terrors. Last night she complained about bombs.
"No, bombs, no~" she cried.
"Bombs?" I asked.
"No!" Eyes open and dazed, she stops being upset for a moment to act tremendously offended. "I said b-aaaaaahms!" [balms? balls?]

I've discussed this with several OB healthcare workers, and many believe conditions of pregnancy affect a baby's temperament and sleep pattern. My last two months of pregnancy I almost never slept lying down because as soon as I lay down she kicked like she was distressed, forcing me to get up. I shared my concerns, but the doctor dismissed them every time.
"Baby's heart rate is good, kicking is good," he said.

Maybe OB medical books are different from OB nursing textbooks, which are basically A Thousand Ways to Die. 

Either way, my due date came and went, and I was induced 12 days later. Everyone had walked away from my hospital room, until a nurse came back freaked out, saying the baby's heart rate was critically low for the past five minutes and as they tried to stimulate her, I was told we needed an emergency C section. When they cut me open, the cord was wrapped around her neck three times.

Does my daughter hate sleep because she was always in distress at "bedtime" or constantly in distress, period? Now that she is old enough, she clearly articulates, "Mama, I don't like night time. I don't like to sleep. I wish it were day all the time." When I asked her about the bombs/balls last night and whether she remembered wanting to be held and waking up every time I tried to sneak away, just like when she was a baby, she thought I was making it up.

Huffington's book suggests meditation, deep breathing and visualization techniques as sleep aids, but doesn't quite cover how to stay asleep. She does caution against the use of sleeping pills because people have been known to sleep-walk, even sleep-drive themselves into dangerous, sometimes fatal situations under the influence of these medications.

Sleep is important to our quality of life, yet can be an elusive mystery. Sometimes inquiry into the subject leads to more questions rather than answers.

Dream bedroom?


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