As I lie on the settee at 3am, I wonder why I’m not asleep. It doesn’t take long to work out the answer: my seven-month-old daughter who is sleeping on my left arm, trapping it to the fabric in some kind of parenting version of 127 Hours. 127 Hours? Y’know, the film based on that true story about that guy whose arm was trapped by a rock? Sigh. We’re getting away from the point, but here’s a picture anyway to jog your memory.
For weeks now, thanks to illness, Jemima has been spending her nights whinging, crying and rubbing snot all over her face with the back of her chubby evil fists. It’s reached the point where I’m so tired I can feel my eyes moving in my skull. You know when you can feel your eyes moving, like you’re some kind of human chameleon? No? Then screw you.
People keep balking at my paleness and asking if I’m ill. No, I answer, I’m a parent. And then they tell me that their child slept through from birth, and I press my fingernails into my palm, mutter something spiteful, and stride off as fast as my tired legs will carry me, but they’re so tired I end up walking like Bambi and completely ruining my dramatic exit, instead collapsing in a heap on the floor in the middle of the corridor and crying softly before nuzzling the short-pile carpet and drifting off.
I’ve never known sleep deprivation like this. ‘Sleep deprivation?!’ you scoff, from out of reach of my flailing claws. ‘Where do you think you are, Guantanamo Bay?!’ Well, I could be. They actually use the sound of babies crying to torture those poor terrorists.
Thanks to the Internet, I know that there are seven signs of sleep deprivation. Let’s take a look, and start ticking some boxes.
1. Irritability. Earlier this week someone at work asked me why I laughed at them, despite the fact that what they had just said was both accurate and helpful. I told them that they ‘just had one of those faces’. Next.
2. Tiredness. No kidding. A symptom of sleep deprivation is tiredness. That’s like saying a symptom of acne is spots. You’re making me irritable.
3. Socially Inept. Sometimes I start sentences with no idea what I’m saying, or why I’m saying it, and then I get bored of my own sentence halfway through, and – oh, you know the rest.
4. Stress Cracker. The other day I cried at work because my coffee was the wrong shade of brown. (That’s not true. I almost cried.)
5. Memory Loss. This has become so bad I’ve forgotten my own kids. I remember the eldest two, but Jemima is a blur. I get home from work, see Jess holding a baby, and say ‘Who’s this little one?!’ whilst coochy-cooing her under the chin.
6. Bad Concentration. Last night I started to watch a film on Netflix. Next thing I know it’s two hours later, I’m dribbling all over my chest and the end credits are rolling. You do the math.
7. Appetite Changes. I barely eat anything any more, to the point where I sang a bit of Take That too loudly on the drive home last week and started feeling light-headed. A while ago I started a pizza, but couldn’t finish it. THIS IS UNHEARD OF.
The solution to sleep deprivation? Get more sleep. Wouldn’t that be nice?