Lost in space, lost in sleep | VailDaily.com

Lost in space, lost in sleep

Alex MillerVail CO, Colorado

Talk to new parents and one of the first things you ask is how the baby is sleeping. From the answer, you can make a general inference as to the relative quality of life these parents are enjoying – or suffering through.”Oh, she’s a good sleeper,” one happy couple might say, while another might just give you that baggy-eyed look, and that’s all you need to know.Many parents think any sleeping problems they’re experiencing with babies will magically disappear with age. In our house, of the six of us, only one appears to have little to no problems with sleep. I fall asleep at 9 and wake up at 3; my wife falls asleep at 3 and wakes up at 9; the preschooler, given his druthers, would go to bed at midnight and wake up at 5; and the teen girl, well, I’m not sure exactly when she goes to sleep (the door is barricaded), but she requires air-raid sirens, cattle prods and buckets of ice water to wake up. Nothing new there, given the age, but still …According to statistics I probably read somewhere, insomnia cost us $270 billion a year in lost this-and-that, plus another $42 billion in medical costs and a zillion bucks invested in nightcaps and Ambien. We could really use a vacation, but instead of a beach or a cruise I think I’d settle for 10 days in some kind of cryogenic freeze.I was thinking of that film “Lost in Space,” where the dad, played by William Hurt, gets to pack the family up in sleep chambers, punch a few buttons and put them all in deep slumber for what is supposed to be years (an evil robot wakes them up prematurely, but that’s another story). For all the parents out there who’ve ever wished they could flip a switch on a hyperkinetic toddler or somehow engage cruise control to sneak in a few extra hours in the morning, the William Hurt machine sounds enticing, doesn’t it? There are a lot of factors that go into running a family, but sleep – and lack thereof – has to be near the top of things that can be tough to manage. A non-sleeping baby, for one, can be the first thing that clues people into the fact that parenting can be one hell of a tough job, as well as an exercise in supreme frustration. And it’s hard to project forward 12 or 14 years and imagine that you may still be grappling with same child’s non-conformist sleep patterns. Our teen daughter can sleep through literally hours of her alarm squawking in her ear, and only when I bang on the door, turn on the light and yell “Time to get up!” does she notice it’s been going off. And if I’m not watchful, she’ll wait till I’m gone, then roll over and go back to sleep.I’m not a jealous person by nature, but when it comes to watching our kids sleep until noon on a Sunday, it makes me positively green – at the same time I’m happy to note that I had five or six hours of productive or leisure time while they just … slept. Later, they enjoy making fun of me as I nod off on the couch during a movie – at 8:30 or some ridiculous hour. The word “pathetic” comes to mind, but I can’t help it.I used to think that I’d catch up on my sleep after all the kids were gone, a fantasy that would see me at age 55 or so sleeping in every weekend until 10 or noon. I can hear my wife laughing at the notion that her early-bird husband, who hasn’t missed a sunrise in years, could ever do such a thing.But I dream of being a millionaire some day, too. You just never know …Assistant Managing Editor Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2931 or amiller@vaildaily.com.

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