Friday, August 1, 2014

The Joy of Sleep

Spending time with the youngest grandkids recently made me realize we have a lot in common.

The darlings sleep a lot.  Grandparents sleep a lot.

Most babies seem to enjoy sleeping. Grandma and Grandpa seem to enjoy sleeping, too.

It may take a while for infants to get the hang of snoozing through the night, but most eventually get it. On the other hand adults tend to get up at night more often as they age.

Napping during the day is a highlight of a baby’s life.

Naptime is frequently a highlight of a retiree’s busy day.

The cute little ones too quickly grow into stubborn toddlers who decide sleeping is an unnecessary intrusion on their day. And night.

The kids fight bedtime. Exhausted, either slinking around too tired to raise their feet and walk, or so wound up they cannot sit still for two seconds, they adamantly refuse to admit they are exhausted. Bedtime becomes a test of wills and an endless stream of excuses why they cannot sleep – can’t find bunny/boo/my favorite book/blanket – forgot to brush my teeth – did not get any dessert – don’t feel well – the room is too dark – the room is too light – there is a monster under my bed (not possible on an air mattress)…

At this point the sleep patterns of grandkids and their elders part ways.

Grandma is too drained to think straight, dreaming of falling into bed, while the kids stubbornly refuse to give in to their body’s need for rest.

Sleep takes hours out of the day, but if I do not get enough slumber time waking hours are wasted. My younger body objected to a lack of sleep, but forgave sleepless transgressions. Then one day the body no longer pardoned but protested when sleep-deprived. I felt really, really bad, looked really, really bad, and sometimes actually got sick.

Occasionally nowadays I stay up late by choice, chance, or when counting sheep does not work. The following morning I suffer a lack of enthusiasm for any activity, even the simplest, such as walking or thinking. My overstuffed chair and a cup of coffee look very, very inviting. My butt might remain in that sedentary position a long, long time…

And now a personal confession.

I enjoy naps. If exceptionally tired, I do not feel guilty lying down during the day and taking a nap.

I relish falling into bed at night, eager to close and rest my weary eyes, bones, and muscles.

Discussing sleep with friends, I know I am lucky, at least for now. I usually sleep through the night without interruption, not getting up to pee. I only awaken if I had anything to drink late at night.

Late at night defined as after 8:00 p.m.

I would meander on about the advantages of sleep, discussing recent scientific studies on the benefits of having enough sleep (but not too much), but it is almost naptime...