March 18, 2008

Sleep

I love all these new sleep studies that show that sleep-deprived people have brain patterns similar to people with severe mental imbalances. This cracks me up for some reason, as if it's only just now been discovered. As if it's new and fascinating idea.

Ask any parent and they'll tell you, without the need for any research or study, the exact same conclusion. Being sleep-deprived makes you crazy. It makes you hostile, inept, confused, emotional, hostile and also... grouchy. You find that you put the milk back in the pantry and the cereal in the refrigerator. You lose your keys 99 times a day.

But more than just the clutzy, half-drunk-in-a-not-fun-way, feeling, sleep deprivation effects your ability to function in society. Staying organized, maintaining relationships, keeping chores done and food prepared, driving, parenting... it all becomes harder than string theory to comprehend. The frustration you feel can boil, build and explode in strange ways and places.

I once went to the grocery store late one evening, shortly after my first daughter was born. I had not slept for more than 2 hours at a time in weeks, literally. I got to the store and made it halfway down the produce aisle when I glanced up and caught the eye of an older woman who had been looking at me.

Instantly, INSTANTLY, I was fighting back tears. I gasped for air, abandoned my cart and made a dash for the car. There was no reason, no reality associated with my onslaught of humiliation, but that's what I felt. I bawled the entire way home and walked in to my completely befuddled (but well rested) husband, who simple held me for the next 30 minutes until I stopped crying. Finally, as my hiccups subsided, he asked what had happened.

"I don't know, exactly," I mumbled into his shirt. "This woman...", I started to whimper a little, "This woman sort of... LOOKED at me."

Oh, dear.

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