Monday, September 13, 2004

Night after night  

More on sleep, which seems to be a topic of great interest to parents of young children, as well as those working nightshifts. I read that adults have sleep cycles which are much longer than childrens. A child’s sleep cycle is about an hour, which is why young kids will become wakeful every hour or so, with monotonous regularity. During the hourly cycle, they go through the various types of sleep, including the deep refreshing kind, and then a period of being almost awake. It is during this phase – every hour, that anything that is bothering them – like teething – will wake them.

The implications for parents are obvious. We need to go through a longer cycle, so by the time the hour comes around, we have not had a chance to get into a proper, refreshing, deep sleep before we are woken. When you wake up, it is back to scratch, at least until you master the art of sleep walking to the cot and back. When your kids are waking you, you never quite get what you need out of your night, even if you sleep for all but 5 minutes every hour.

The other sleep problem current in our house is caused by noisy neighbours. At about 10 to 3 on Saturday morning, we were woken by shouting from next door. Apparently he thought she had been sleeping around, while she still loved him and would never do such a thing, and was imploring him not to hit her. And I though we had moved into such a nice area. Being British, and knackered, my inclination was to leave them to it, roll over, and try to maintain my sleep cycle. The boss, on the other hand, found the whole thing very disturbing, as apparently did the neighbours on the other side, who popped over in the afternoon to discuss the whole thing.

It’s a bit of a tricky area, etiquette-wise. If she isn’t going to complain to the police, then who are we to do so on her behalf? On the other hand, if she is that far gone, then she needs help anyway, whether she is going to ask for it or not. If he does start to hit her, then there is no way I can roll over and leave them to it. Part of me wants to take the British approach and pretend it’s not happening, part of me wants to delegate the whole thing to the police so that it’s not my problem, and my South African influence wants to go round and threaten to kick the crap out of him unless he lays off. So far the South African side looks like the option most likely to produce a result. When in Rome...

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