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Falling out of love with sleep

Too sleepy to care about the breakfast on his face.

I'm pretty sure I was born to sleep. When I was little I'd happily fall asleep in my food, sleep to avoid talking to people, in fact I'd pretty much sleep anywhere, anytime. Even after a fantastic nap, I still looked forward to bedtime, some days I couldn't wait. While I disappointingly grew out of being able to fall asleep when I didn't want to talk to someone, the rest stuck with me.

It's probably a good thing that I didn't go to university, I would have never coped with more than one late night a week. I would have been sneaking out of the club looking for somewhere to get a warm cup of milk and been in a wonderful dream land while everyone else stumbled back in the door in the early hours.

Instead I stayed home, got a job and went to bed at a time around 21:30, or 22:00 if I was feeling super adventurous, anything later was late and anything earlier was bliss. There were certainly nights I made up for it and I could stay up until the early hours with the right company or for the right occasion, but I'd need plenty of time to sleep in or nap for a day or two after. None of that bothered me though because I just loved sleep, sleeping in, early nights, naps, the lot.

When I became pregnant, sleep started to hate me, which was a bit unfair after all of the years of love I had given it. I could only sleep sitting up with what felt like twenty pillows surrounding me, cushioning my every move. In fact, sleep really tested me and on some occasions I started to hate it too, but the bigger my baby got the more I valued it and if it wasn't going to let me get some rest at night there was still the day.

By the time my little one arrived, and the initial baby bubble that kept me going burst, I was well and truly back in love with sleep again. I didn't care if I had to go to bed at 18:00 to get some sleep, every second counted. Every minute awake in the night changing or feeding my little boy was a minute spent thinking about sleep. Every moment spent asleep was treasured.

Taking my side of the bed, as usual.

While the love of sleep lasted longer than expected with a baby, it didn't last and the relationship started to break down again when my little boy was a bit over a year old. He'd stopped falling asleep while I gently rocked him in his pushchair for his nap and insisted on being taken for a walk to switch off. To start with it didn't bother me. He slept, I got exercise and he'd stay asleep when I got back home with him so I still had time to myself. The problem was, on the nights he slept terribly I still had to go for a walk and have you ever tried to catch up on sleep straight after exercise? There's no gentle walk when every moment back at home in peace matters, so despite all of the times I was told to sleep when my little boy did, there was annoyingly no chance. The fresh air would help him sleep, but it would keep me awake until about five minutes before he woke up.

The inability to nap left me feeling a little sad. I was even more sad that sleep was actually taking all of my energy. No matter what I tried, how I tried to change the naps, it was exhausting without any sleep for myself until bedtime.

It wasn't until we moved my toddler to his toddler bed and duvet that sleep and I really fell out. Not because I've not had a full night's sleep since then (though it would be nice, it's been a few weeks now), it's the sudden lack of time that I'm tired of. With the unpredictable bedtime routines, the extra person that crashes my side of the bed at any time he likes, the early wakeups and nap time battles, it feels like the only time I get to myself is when I'm asleep.

Now sleep is giving me choice, it's making me choose between the things I would like or need to do and sleep. It's saying I can either sleep, or stay awake and blog, clean, answer my emails and watch tv. Then when I do choose sleep, it doesn't reward me and let me wake up refreshed, it makes my toddler wake too early or miss a nap, so I'm right back to where I started. Back to my time being a premium again, leaving me sat on my bedroom floor at 5am (making sure my toddler doesn't fall out of bed) just like I am now, blogging.

Despite feeling let down by sleep right now, I know that one day we'll get back on track. That really my toddler sleep issues will become a distant memory and I'll be able to find a new routine again. That one day I'll look forward to bedtime again, to the lazy weekends mornings we always used to love, and I might even be able to sleep in. Until then, I'm going to be kind to myself, keep a balance of work and play and drink coffee because not everything lasts forever.

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Saturday, 31 October 2020