When I was in third grade, I walked into an optometrist's office thinking my eye sight was just fine. It wasn't until I left his office with my new pair of glasses that I realized just how poorly I had been seeing. I remember telling my mom, "Look! All the trees have leaves!"
I've had a similar experience with sleep. I've known I was sleep deprived for the past six months, but I didn't really grasp just how bad it was until I started sleeping again. Last night, for the first time in who knows how long, Sam not only went to bed without a peep, he stayed in bed until 6:45 am. This means that I, too, stayed in bed until 6:45 am. My night was completely uninterrupted. I've had three good nights of sleep in a row and I can feel a huge difference. I wake up feeling awake. I don't drag in the afternoon. My mind is no long fuzzy. I'm motivated. I'm taking deep breaths. I feel remarkably alive.
The extra sleep is making a difference in entire family--Sam especially. I had hoped that some of the daytime behavioral issues we were having would fade as he got more sleep. They have.
Sleep deprivation in children often mimics ADHD. Doctors have a hard time guesstimating how many children have been medicated for hyperactive behavior when in fact what they need is a few more hours of sleep. When Sam was getting 7-ish hours of sleep he was melting down at the tiniest offence (like when I refused to put honey under his pillow so it would "smell good"). Inadequate time asleep meant the next day he would oscillate between laying on the couch with glazed over eyes, and chasing after house flies with the kind of frenzy that sent me to Google things like, "Does my child have ADHD?" I am so grateful that our pediatrician didn't take the "easy" route and simply write a prescription for hyperactive behavior. I'm glad she had the foresight to see Sam's hyper activity as being a symptom, not a cause.
If someone told me a year ago that I would be celebrating sleeping through the night in June of 2011 I would have assumed they were talking about Clara. Nope. Not the baby, the toddler. Clara was sleeping for 5-hour stretches at 3-days-old. This stretched to 8 hours at a month and increased from there until we hit 12-hour nights which is what we're currently enjoying. God was merciful. She's a doll. A complete doll. She is two days shy of 7-months and is beginning to get the hang of sitting unassisted. Really the only fussing we get is when we don't get the oatmeal in her mouth fast enough.
I had to mention Clara because a number of you (family included) have said along the lines of, "Um, sometimes I forget you have another kid." Clara is doing just fine. And I think the rest of us are as well.