Forget the Bermuda Triangle or Lord Lucan. One of the greatest mysteries of all time must be sleep. It’s an enigma which has puzzled generations and the fact that it is 02:44 on the weekend and I’m writing this shows it is indeed baffling me when everyone else in my house is securely tucked up in dreamland.
Babies. Newborns don’t want to sleep. They have to be put to sleep and believe me, there were times when I wanted to put one of my screaming infants to sleep! Permanently! They can’t go more than two or three hours without waking because they need that cherry sized stomach filled. (I can’t really comment as I can’t go very long with needing to shove some unhealthy potato based snack into my gob!) They’re growing apparently and need to put on an extra ounce or they’ll be in the wrong percentile in that red baby book and that would be way too embarrassing for their knackered, struggling mother. Dropping into that lower 10% might just tip her over the edge. Babies eventually get the hang of sleep. Nothing at all to do with monotonous mobiles, blackout blinds or swaddling so secure that screaming infants tire themselves back to sleep trying to escape like Harry Houdini from their fabric prison. Parents breathe a sigh of relief as they can finally savour eight hours again. But just as babies are lulled into an acceptable sleep pattern, toddlerdom hits.
Toddlers. Toddlers don’t need sleep. They need to play the game of climbing out of the cot or screaming for hours on end. They’re lonely. They miss you. They want you to lie down on the cold, hard floor until they fall into a deep sleep, then sit bolt upright as you stand on the creakiest floorboard possible as you attempt to leave, hence starting the whole process all over again. Yes, I’ve woken up, drooling onto the carpet as my toddler looked over the bars, puzzled as to why their silly mammy was lying on that cold, hard, floor.
Kids. They’re a bit better at sleeping, mainly because they can be bribed. And because you now have five years of sleep to catch up on, you don’t care that they’re downstairs, ratching in the biscuit cupboard. Crack on child.
Teenagers. When you can get revenge. They’ve now decided they want to sleep. All the time. Cue hoovering outside their doors, switching on every appliance in the house and singing ridiculously loudly at the same time.
Hangovers. Don’t get me started. You’re ill. You’re suffering. But your evil body wants to punish you further by not letting you sleep. Aww, Lindsay, do you just need 120 minutes of uninterrupted, deep dozing to rid yourself of this self induced bad head and nausea? Err, I don’t think so! You’ve made me work overtime lady. My poor kidneys don’t know whether they’re coming or going so you can bloody well stay awake and keep them company as they rid you of all the toxins you imbibed. And you can take the time to think about your actions last night too!
Middle aged. You can now fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Going to the cinema is now a different experience. You know you won’t see a full movie. Those big, warm, comfy chairs will have you throwing out the zeds before the adverts are finished. And there’s the motion induced sleep. You’re like a newborn again. You’re barely off the drive and the eyelids are drooping. Sometimes when you’re driving too. Then there is the waking up at random times in the middle of the night. What on earth did people do before boxsets? The early morning hours are now an ample opportunity to catch up on the programmes you’ve missed because you now usually have a lengthy nana nap after your tea, in the middle of Emmerdale.
And finally, so I’m told, you’ll revert to the sleeping pattern of a newborn again. You’ll wake roughly every two to three hours because you’re thirsty and need a trip to the toilet. You’ll nap during the day to compensate. And I imagine the wheelchair replaces the pram.
So we’ve come full circle. And we’re still none the wiser about how to solve, once and for all, the problem of a good night’s sleep. Or Lord Lucan.