Due to a combination of my toddler skipping his afternoon nap, waking through the night, co-sleeping between the hours of 2am and 4am and getting up ridiculously early, I’m knackered. Pooped. Shattered. Worn out. Negatively, this has somewhat reduced my productivity. Positively, it has enabled me to spend the whole day talking about not getting enough sleep.
Bo-ring. Thanks for your input, but your choice of slur leads me to believe that you are not a parent. I say this, because those with children know that anything to do with disruptive sleep patterns is conversational gold.
Why doesn’t my newborn sleep at night? What’s the deal with four-month sleep regression? Is it time for my toddler to drop their afternoon nap? When will my child sleep through the night without feeding? Why is my baby waking up so often at night? When will he or she stop teething? I’ll stop there, but be warned: when it comes to #napchat, this is barely the tip of iceberg. We parents are obsessed, infatuated, addicted. We simply can’t get enough of talking about not getting enough.
But why? Why does a subject that is capable of inducing, well, sleep, in anyone who has yet to reproduce suddenly become so totally and utterly fascinating to someone who has? The answers can be found in this week’s edition of the Father-Hood.co.uk Midweek List, which, rather handily, begins about 5mm below this line.
1. We are not getting enough sleep
You know how they say the people who talk about sex the most are the ones who do it the least? Well, it’s the same with sleep. According to a recent study of over 1,000 new parents, mums and dads miss out on a whopping six months sleep during the first two years of their child’s life. The research found that 64% of parents with babies under the age of two get just three hours and 45 minutes of uninterrupted sleep per night and 12% get two-and-a-half hours or less. To put this into context, most adults need five hours of uninterrupted sleep to function properly and some need as much as eight. And to put this into context, I now realise why I spent six months wearing my T-shirt inside out and trying to microwave my porridge in the fridge.
2. We’re trying, and probably failing, to give our friends who’ve yet to have kids a bit of insight
When I first discovered the cold, hard, sleep-deprived reality of being a parent, I had a go at my mates who already had kids on the basis that they had failed to tell me all the gory details before the bubster arrived. Then I had to apologise, as it turns out that they had tried to open my eyes, but I’d stopped listening because I thought they were just droning on about not getting enough sleep.
3. Not getting enough sleep is hurting our health
And I’m not just talking about the odd migraine, morning grump or dicky tummy. According to the NHS, a lack of sleep puts people at risk of obesity (hello, dad bod), high blood pressure, heart disease, low moods and diabetes. Which isn’t worrying at all.
4. Sleep is 5-star small talk
As a new parent, you meet a lot of other new parents. In time, these people may become your bosom buddies. Initially, however, they are just strangers looking a bit lost in the kids’ department of John Lewis/waiting for some fat bloke to finish doing a poo in the disabled toilet that doubles as a nappy change/squeezing into the station lift/sitting in the same room while a really enthusiastic baby class host sings songs and unleashes bubbles (delete as applicable).
So you just ignore them, right? Wrong. The fact you inadvertently made eye contact, have kids that are a similar age and last had a conversation with a human being who wasn’t your partner 11 days ago means you feel compelled to chat.
But what on earth are you going to talk about? Feeding and jabs can be touchy subjects and it’s probably too early in your relationship to mention the nappy blowout you just attempted to clean up, so, after opening up with the obligatory “Aw, how old?”, you decide to progress to the catch-all and 100% inoffensive world of sleep chat.
“How are they sleeping? What time do they get up? Do they sleep a lot during the day? We’re not getting enough sleep. It’s a nightmare. Are you having really weird dreams? Squats are working for us. Yesterday, I feel asleep while brushing my teeth. Colic. Dummies. Etc. Etc. Etc.”
5. We really would like to get more sleep
So, mum, why don’t you save us a lot of time and inane conversation and offer to babysit already?