Sleeping through ... as an adult

"Forgive me, men, if I don't want to stay up all night to get lucky" … Kerri Sackville.
"Forgive me, men, if I don't want to stay up all night to get lucky" … Kerri Sackville. Photo: Damian Bennett

Kerri Sackville has a dream: eight hours of sleep, in her own bed, uninterrupted by kids, a curious cat, and sleep-talking.

She's up all night till the sun
I'm up all night to get some
She's up all night for good fun
I'm up all night to get lucky

Heard this song lately? It's by Daft Punk and it's a huge hit. And every time I hear it, I just want to put on my dance shoes and party all night.

Except I totally don't. Are you kidding me? Up all night to get lucky? Even listening to the lyrics makes me faint with exhaustion. Seriously, I hear that song and all I want to do is curl up for a nap. I can't imagine anything worse than staying up all night. My youngest is five and I still remember those early weeks of staying up all night like it was yesterday. A hellish, nightmarish yesterday.

Nothing could induce me to willingly stay up all night. I certainly wouldn't stay up all night to get lucky. Hell, I probably wouldn't stay up past 11pm. Okay, so maybe I'd push it to midnight for Simon Baker, but that would be my absolute limit.

At my age – 105 – sleep becomes intensely important, and not something one gives up easily. I am tired, all the time. There are nights when I am so profoundly tired that I fall asleep on the couch at 8.30pm and have to drag myself into bed in the middle of the night. Even on the best nights I rarely make it to washing my face, and sometimes I don't even manage to brush my teeth.

There are times I will sit on my bed for a little rest before the whole arduous ordeal of undressing, only to find myself waking up hours later after accidentally taking a rather long nap. I have even woken up in the morning after a full night's sleep in my clothes, including one memorable evening I slept for eight whole hours in my skinny jeans, boots and a chunky necklace.

Of course, the plus side to all of this clothes-sleeping is that I rarely have to wash my pyjamas. The down side is that it's just a little bit pathetic.

I've slept so soundly and heavily that I've missed my alarm in the morning, which makes it difficult to blame the kids when they're late to school. And on weekends, I have frequently slept in till 10am to discover that the kids have tried to wake me, but failed.

"I came in, Mummy, but you told me to watch TV and let you sleep," the five-year-old will say.

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"I don't remember that," I tell her.

"It's true, Mum," says the 12-year-old, who is congenitally unable to lie. "And when she said she was hungry, you told her to eat biscuits!" And then a vague recollection will dawn on me, of promising the kids anything in order to leave me alone ...

But of course sleep is nothing if not unpredictable. There are nights when I inexplicably toss and turn until the wee small hours, every fibre of my being as alert as if I'd drunk three litres of coffee. And every stupid thing I've ever done will go round and round in my head, or I'll find myself obsessing over some massive problem that needs sorting out right now, but that turns out to be completely insignificant when I stumble out of bed, pale and haggard, the next day.

Or I'll hop into bed calm and relaxed, but then just as I feel myself drifting off to sleep my limbs will twitch and jolt me awake. My foot might give a tiny jerk, my knee might give a kick, or my entire arm might bounce off the bed and hit me in the head. In the daytime I am a normal, tired woman. At night, I am possessed by demons.

And then, even if I do manage to fall asleep without obsessive thoughts or twitching limbs, I can be roused in the middle of the night by my own snoring. Or, bizarrely, I can wake myself up by uttering words. Loud words. Words in another language. "ZOH!" I might yell at 2am, or "BAH!" I don't know what I mean, but presumably it's important.

Or I'll fall asleep and not converse with myself, but awaken violently at 3am for absolutely no reason. And then I'll lie there in agonies until 6.30am, at which point I'll drop off again just moments before the alarm sounds. It's horrible.

Or nothing will happen at all, and I'll fall asleep easily and stay asleep happily, but one of the kids will wake me up in the wee small hours because they cannot sleep, and have decided that it is far better for Mummy to share the heartbreak and despair of insomnia than for them to suffer it bravely alone.

Or I will sleep soundly, and the kids will sleep soundly, but then the cat will choose that very night to make an unplanned and thorough exploration of my nasal cavities at 2am, using her tongue as a probe and her two front paws on my chin for leverage. And let me tell you, if you've never been woken by a rough tongue in your nostril, it's not the ideal way to be roused from slumber.

So forgive me if I don't want to dance to Daft Punk. And forgive me, men, if I don't wish to stay up all night to get lucky – yes, even you, Simon Baker. I'm tired and there was a cat on my face last night, and all I want to do is sleep.

And if I could get a decent eight hours in my pyjamas, then that would be a very lucky night indeed.

This article first appeared in Sunday Life. 

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