As someone who’s had two babies in three years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about sleep but, sadly, not as much time in those first months actually doing the sleeping. If I ever wondered why we need sleep, I had this question answered on a daily basis as I struggled through the day tired. You forget things, it’s harder to concentrate, you feel sad and much more irritable without sleep.
So it might surprise many of us to learn that scientists still aren’t entirely sure why we sleep even though it’s clear there are many benefits: the body repairs itself, the mind sorts all the daily goings on and it helps replenish fuel.
Yet each night as I go to bed I still think it’s odd that all the people in my house and most others in the street, neighbourhood, city, country and in my time zone around the world are all laying down to rest at about the same time. The best sleeps are those ones where you’re head hits the pillow and the next time you open your eyes its a respectable time in the morning.
After getting up and down to babies in recent years it almost became strange to stay in bed all night. I actually feel strangely guilty if I don’t get up and I even miss (just a bit) that middle of the night intimate feeding and settling with the baby. This year I don’t have to get up and I can read and turn over and go to sleep when it suits. It happens every night but I still feel an anxiety about whether I’ll be able to last the distance and stay in the one spot more or less all night.
As Hamlet says so succinctly “To sleep, perchance to dream.”