Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rough Sea to Dreams

For the most part, it is very quiet where I live in rural California. The silence at night is only broken by the occasional car driving down our two-lane country road, and given this sea of quietude I should drift to a blissful slumber without impediment, but I don't. Falling to sleep is one of the illusive and fleeting moments in time which I strive to capture on a regular basis. It has been likely over five years since I have slept a continuous eight hours, due to a combination of two pregnancies and the resultant babies, all too frequent childhood viruses, and night time potty trips which all make for rough waters in my sea of dreams. Other nights, my husband's arrival home in the wee hours of the morning due to his erratic work schedule wakes me up. While I do get between seven and eight hours of sleep at night, it is too often fragmented by various awakenings and my own body, which does not know how to sleep for long durations any more. It is amazing how only a few moments of awakening in the night will fracture the quality of sleep. I don't take much comfort or solace in the fact that I am not alone since this is the plight of women everywhere. It just shows how much women sacrifice with little kids.

I am a huge fan of Dr. Weissbluth's, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and after disciplined sleep training, both my kids fall to sleep most excellently. I have attempted to apply his general principles to my own sleep habits as well as to my children. I would not call myself a good sleeper to begin with, but now I sleep with ear plugs in to muffle errant noises. Also, I will forcibly put myself to bed before ten on most nights.

Being the bed time Nazi for my kids has been a necessary evil so they get the sleep that they deserve. Also I won't schedule any activities at nap time to protect their schedules. Wyatt, at four years of age, sleeps about ten hours an night and takes a two hour nap still. Ella, approaching two, sleeps about 11 hours at night with a two hour nap. Luckily, Wyatt can mostly take him self to the bathroom in the middle of the night now. My biggest problem remains the illnesses which generally ruin Ella's sleep patterns with fevers and runny noses. Unavoidable but frustrating for Mom's everywhere, I am sure.

Overall, I feel like I have given them the gift of sleep, a present that I don't think they will ever know the true value. I realize that living rurally allows them to expend their energies outside in a physical way that readies their bodies for sleep. I am often sincerely thankful that we don't live in a subdivision, though a 800 square foot house is our sacrifice. The outdoor living space we have gives our kids square footage to play in the dirt, pet the horses, check the chicken boxes for eggs, and dig in the sand pile throughout the day.

There seems to be a window of opportunity for my falling asleep, which if interrupted makes it more difficult to attain the mystic sleep state. Also there is the time period between eight and about ten where falling asleep becomes almost impossible. Often, when I lay down during this time zone my mind swims, and I wish there was a switch to turn off the engine within my brain. I think that if you don't learn this early as a child it is increasingly difficult as an adult. When I was a little kid I spent many nights up too late in my room, unable to fall asleep quickly, so I know this just does not go away by growing up. I think that if your brain's sleep wiring doesn't get installed at an early age sleeping will always be somewhat problematic.

Since I am coming off about 12 days of illness between my son, myself, and my daughter, I feel pretty much sleep deprived. It is times like this that I long for my single days when I only had to throw the cat out the door before I went to bed and I would be guaranteed a good nights sleep. For now I will try to dream about it.

1 comment:

Julia said...

Serious progress in the wake of sicknesses in my house. I slept for 7 hours consecutively. Three cheers for the sleep Gods!

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