The paradox that is five hours’ sleep
It never ceases to amaze me how five hours’ sleep can seem so much or so little, depending on your circumstances.
Imagine, if you can, that you’ve been on a wild night out. You’ve been dancing, drinking, having a great time till 2am, and then you get woken at 7am by, I don’t know, the bin men? Other people’s children? (this is pre-children, I imagine). Five hours’ sleep is nothing. You’re wrecked; destroyed. You lie in bed, groaning, till midday.
And then take five hours’ sleep when you have a new baby. After a good few weeks of being woken for feeds every 2-3 hours, the first night you get five unbroken hours’ sleep you feel like you could conquer the world. You’re practically dancing round Spinneys on stilts, grinning at strangers and planning what you’re going to do with your new-found energy. Yes! You think. There is life beyond exhaustion. I did used to feel good once!
And then there are the nights when your children are sick. Maybe they’ve been vomiting or got a fever; maybe you’ve even spent the evening in the hospital’s emergency department because you were worried about febrile convulsions, croup or dehydration and you’re allowed, eventually, to take them home around midnight. You put them to bed, look at your other half and accept that it’s going to be a bad one.
Preparations may even be made. ‘You sleep in the guest room. I’ll stay with him.’ Mentally, you prepare yourself to be up all night, mopping up vomit, changing sheets and pyjamas, comforting an upset child… and then you get an unbroken sleep till 6am. Five hours, in that situation, gets a massive morning smile from me.