Sleep Pattern Dulling My Mental Sharpness

EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate the birth of our new blessing, Ily Anabelle, this is a four-part series of previously-written blog posts about daddyhood. These posts, branded as “unsolicited/friendly parenting advice,” originally ran on my defunct blog: A Crash Course in Daddyhood. This post – which originally ran March 27, 2010 – is the third in the four-part series.

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It’s funny…before Crash was born, TK and I said that we didn’t want to be those parents who were cranky and tired.

Crash Greer MyersMore importantly, we weren’t going to be those first-time parents who bitched about it. Even if we were sleep deprived, we were going to lie: “Oh, he’s perfect…sleeping like a champ. Couldn’t be better – we’re not tired at all.”

I quickly realized that makes for boring blog fodder.

That’s why I am writing this post…

Imagine replacing 8 hours of shut-eye with six 20-minute naps every 4 hours.

Intrigued? I was.

This unique way of attacking slumber is called The Uberman sleep cycle, and I read about it in a Men’s Health article a little over a year ago.

My thought process: It’s like a bunch of little power naps.

“It makes total sense!”

The author did a tremendous job of capturing my intrigue, but he also did a good job of establishing why this was a really bad idea.

When he agreed to try out this unconventional way of sleeping for the article – he had big plans for the “extra” time he was about to inherit:

Leonardo da Vinci is said to have followed a sleep pattern akin to Uberman. Maybe that’s what allowed him sufficient time to design the helicopter, hang glider, parachute, and submarine, and paint the Mona Lisa and Last Supper.

In fact, geniuses and military leaders throughout history have been linked with unconventional sleeping habits — Napoleon, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Winston Churchill, to name a few.

Who knows how different our world would be today if these men had bunked down at sunset?

I wasn’t looking to invade Prussia, but I thought I could at least use some extra time to renew my driver’s license and figure out my taxes.

After several days of following the game plan – working through the brutal acclimation phase – the author was cursing himself for signing on to the project. He wrote, “It was about this time that I began to get canker sores in my mouth, the beginnings of a cold, an outbreak of pimples. Meanwhile, my circle of friends agreed that I was edgy and irritable, and looked like death.”

I referred back to the list of tasks I’d promised myself I’d tackle once I emerged from the “pain and suffering” phase of Uberman.

But sleeplessness robs me of the last 5 to 10 percent of my mental acuity, which is where I find the motivation to actually accomplish things.

So instead of pushing my new agenda, I watched lots and lots of television and was frequently mistaken for a junkie in my local park.

Why in the world am I writing about this on a Daddy Blog? Because there are certain days when I feel EXACTLY like the author of this article.

Crash Greer MyersI wake up feeling sorry for my To Do List, because I’m about to punish it:

• Finish the renovation

• Take Brother Gus for a run

• Scrub the bathrooms

• Mow the lawn

Then…FAIL! (Reminder: Out break of pimples and limited mental acuity.)

I realized this the other day when I was staring through the Rangers game on Sunday afternoon. When I should have been enjoying the sunshine, walking the dog, being productive around the house – NOTHING.

Crash had a sub-par evening the night before and I was feeling the impact. I got a little more sleep than a Uberman sleeper, but it was still wake up, sleep, wake up, sleep, wake up. (And it’s not solid sleep by any means.)

I can’t imagine where TK’s mental acuity was ranking.

I think any first-time parent will agree: It takes its toll on you and robs you of your motivation.

We are very fortunate that these nights only occur a couple times a week – usually right before a big deadline at work or when there is a massive Honey Do List waiting for me. (It’s like he knows.)

The problem is…while sporadic, these restless nights are still occurring.

We are taking steps to combat them, specifically by adopting an eat, wake, sleep routine. (Recommended by Babywise.)

Most people quickly ask: “How’s that going?”

ME: “Minus the canker sores and the irritability? Perfect. Couldn’t be better.”

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