Monday, January 19, 2009


I got about four hours of sleep last night. Pumpkin was up very frequently from about 11:30 until 2, when I finally managed to hand her off to my Mom (who was visiting, along with one of my aunts) and stumble back to bed.

Hubby and I had gone out to dinner with some friends, and I had gone out to dinner with my sister and the visiting relatives the night before. I think Pumpkin was a little unnerved by the unusual weekend schedule, and was just checking to see if I was there. Which is sweet... but I'm wiped out today.

Things were not helped by the fact that Hubby had a little bit much to drink, so was sleeping more soundly than usual. Therefore, I didn't want to bring Pumpkin to bed with us, which was clearly what she wanted. And he was absolutely useless with the middle of the night wake ups. At one point, he thought he heard Pumpkin say that it was night-night time for Baby (she was actually saying she wanted to go night-night with us), so he got out of bed, went to the living room, picked up her baby doll and brought it in to me. He doesn't remember doing this, so can't enlighten me as to what exactly I was supposed to do with the baby doll and how this would help get Pumpkin back into her crib.

It has been a long time since I had to try to be productive at work on so little sleep. Since I've been getting an extravagant 6 hours of sleep (albeit fragmented) with regularity of late, I have let most of my coping mechanisms slide. I still had my to do list, though, and luckily the top five entries on my list were "write purchase requisition for ." This is fairly easy work, but it needed to get done as soon as possible, so I actually left for the day feeling good about what I had accomplished.

Both of my dinners out this weekend were well worth the consequences, but I do wish I could bottle the way I felt today. I'd give a little bit to the people who raise their eyebrows when I say that we don't go out much- you know, the ones who are thinking that I am a neurotic mother who is subjugating her own wants to the needs of her baby- and let them experience the consequences of those nights out that they think I should have. As for the people who actually dare to say something about how when they have kids they'll still go out every weekend and/or tell me a story about their sister/college friend/dog-walker who has a system of regular date nights- I'd accidentally spill my bottle of sleep deprivation all over them, and hopefully then they'd be too damn tired to say such silly things. I am not subjugating my needs to my baby's when I stay in most nights. I am taking care of my need for sleep. And for what its worth, even though I enjoy going out, I am always a little sorry to miss kissing Pumpkin goodnight!


  1. What a brilliant idea! I totally understand how you're feeling. After months of sleeping reasonably well, E's been sick, and Christmas was really disruptive, so she's been waking up a lot, and then landing in bed with me...and these are nights where she isn't sleeping well to begin with. Turns out I sleep really poorly when I'm in bed with things have been awful. I keep trying to do your list idea, but I get bogged down on item 1: Make list.

    Seriously though, lists are awesome when you have a lot of little, well defined tasks, but I'm having trouble with the less well defined things. "Learn enough about differential equations to decipher this code my advisor wrote a couple years ago" doesn't break down well into little pieces that can get neatly crossed off my list. Any suggestions?

  2. Anonymous8:17 AM

    I love it!

    The worst part is doing a full day of "desk" work when I'm that tired. If I get into the lab and move around a little, I am much more coherent.

  3. @Today Wendy- there was a reason I didn't tackle the "model X protein" item on my list yesterday! But seriously, if you're in for a stretch of sleep deprivation, you have to find a way to get those sorts of things done. My usual approach is to try to break my big hairy task into little, well defined ones.

    So in your case, I'd probably start with a task of "find good DiffEQ text book" or something similar, and then give myself tasks to read certain chapters or work certain examples.

    And in cases where I have to read someone else's code (which is almost always a painful experience, even when not sleep deprived), I usually force myself to write explanatory comments in the code, which means (1) I have actually read and understood it and (2) I might be able to come back and understand it again later. My to do list task in this case is "Read and document the XYZ section of code".

    Back in grad school, when I had to read some really dense stuff, I used to give myself rewards for making it through each chapter. My rewards were usually chocolate, which didn't do a lot for my figure. So then I started to make going out for a nice walk a reward.

    Come to think of it, that was something else I did yesterday to get through my fog. I went for a walk. Natural light always perks me up. Of course, I live in San Diego, and it has been beautifully warm here lately. I don't know if this would work so well in a place that is miserably cold right now.

    I hope your sleep gets better soon!

  4. Ugh! The insane nights of so little sleep. I'm not looking for to more of those with the new baby (or with the toddler's next sleep regression, I'm sure). I love your idea of bottling the feeling to spread to those who just. don't. get it.

    I am also a big note taker, which helps me stay awake in meetings and while reviewing documents. I'm glad I don't have to do serious scientific or mathematic work, but I do have to read technical IT documents and IT security documents and VERY boring test documents and requirements documents. And I attend very boring meetings. Taking notes and making comments is a lifesaver for me.

  5. @caramama- oh yeah, I hear you on boring test documents. I had to read those in my old job. I occasionally resorted to a trick I hadn't used since I had to read Hegel in college- reading standing up.

  6. Wow, those are great suggestions. One of my favorite advice sites (Tomato Nation) had a similar suggestion years ago: make a list, if you still don't see where to start, break your items down into smaller pieces until they seem manageable. Every time I've tried the technique it has worked, and I've been really productive, but actually breaking down large tasks into smaller pieces is a bit of an art...and I'm not very good at it. I guess I just need more practice.

    My usual reward in undergrad for getting through really dense textbooks, was a quick nap. Logistically that just doesn't work well right now.

  7. @Today Wendy- I can't really say when /where I learned how to make good to do lists, but it has definitely been a good skill to have. It transferred well when I became a project manager- making a project plan is quite a bit like making a detailed to do list for a lot of people.


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