Sleep. That terrible, wonderful little word. There is always a fine line we walk between sleeping too much (i.e. lazy bastard) and sleeping too little (i.e. unpleasant monster).
We knew going in to this whole parenting thing that sleep would become more elusive than ever before, rare and precious like diamonds. Like all parents do, though, we settled into a routine, the babies started sleeping for longer chunks of time, and we started to get more sleep. There were still midnight feedings and early risings and skipped naps, but all in all it hasn’t been bad, considering.
We’ve had a slight shift in schedule, though; Kat’s job required her to come in earlier a couple of mornings, which means I’m up earlier with the boys on those days. Throughout, I’ve taken a nap when the boys have taken their morning nap. It’s been pretty good; after our early morning routine, we have all been able to grab another couple of hours, which has been crucial for me.
See, on the days I go to my job, I don’t get home until 11:30pm on average. That’s with no stops for gas or groceries and no slow down for nighttime highway work. Assuming I get home earlier, say 11:15, if I were to come into the house and fall instantly asleep, I’d be getting roughly 6.5 hours of sleep, give or take, depending on what time the boys wake up.
The hitch in the gettalong here is that I can’t fall asleep the second I walk in the door. In fact, if that happens, I hope someone calls 911, because you aren’t supposed to walk through your door and fall into a snoring heap in the foyer. To some, it sounds more than reasonable to be asleep – or at least in bed – by midnight or 1am. My problem is this: I can’t do that anymore than someone with a 9-5 can get right into bed and go to sleep at 7:00, shortly after they get home. My circadian rhythm (or at least my sleepy-wakey brain juices) has been in tatters for years and years. I’ve spent the bulk of the last decade and a half (God I’m old…) working night shifts.* One of the many, many terrible parts of working so many night shifts for so long is that my body is in that mode; bedtime is 2, 3 in the morning, waking time is 10-11ish. When you add it all up – and don’t to add back in stopping for gas, traffic, packing lunches, getting food ready for the next day, etc. – I find it very difficult to get to sleep before 1:30am, and usually closer to 2am. My “usual” bedtime.
Now, though, I’m up with the boys around 6, we’re up for about two hours, and then it’s naptime. For them. Maybe. They’ve decided that they aren’t in need of a nap every morning, so the opportunity for me to catch a couple more hours of sleep is just gone.
It probably doesn’t matter, though, because when they have been taking that nap, I’ve been finding myself unable to fall asleep. I don’t know if it’s insomnia, stress, a side-effect of one or combination of the 9 medicines I take, or what, but I know that for the last few weeks, I’ve been running on ~4 hours of sleep a few days each week.
It’s pretty terrible; we’re trying to figure out solutions, where we can tweak the schedule and such, but for now I’m [string of expletives deleted] exhausted.
*author’s note: not because I want to