Did you know that if you go without sleep long enough that you could hallucinate?
I actually did already know that before this weekend. Having two children, I have went through the newborn phase (and the sleeplessness that comes with it) twice. When my second daughter was a baby, I hallucinated so much that I thought my house was haunted. Being that my daughters are 14 and 9, though, those hazy days are far behind me. I’m also much older. My old bones love sleep, crave it even. I can’t tolerate sleep deprivation like I used to.
This past Friday night, I took my daughters and a group of friends to an overnight lock-in at a local university recreation center. I had twelve girls total ranging in age from 8 to 14 ( I know, I promise I’m not crazy). It was an awesome time with an agenda that included swimming, crafts, zumba, basketball, volleyball, soccer, racquetball, wall-climbing, movies, and a self defense class. There was no enforced “lights out” (though there was a “quiet room” for those that wanted to get some rest – and I use the term “quiet” pretty loosely) so the girls were allowed to have free reign of the place all night. We ate pizza at 11pm and we had doughnuts at 4am. Check out time was 6am.
Some of our girls did lay down and rest for a couple of hours. Several of the girls (my two included) stayed up all night. I stayed up as well, since I was responsible for these girls. Not one wink of sleep was had.
The hardest hours were between 2am and 4am. It was hard to concentrate and my brain felt “buzzy.” I had to wander the gym to keep myself awake. The sugar infusion at 4am helped quite a bit. Of course, at 6am I had to drive home and the cold air gave me a jolt. Due to unfortunate scheduling, we had another event Saturday morning until 2pm. So, all told, I was awake about 36 hours straight. I woke up here and there between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, each time confused and disoriented. I would see and hear things that I would promptly forget when I awoke again. I had no idea what was reality and what my addled brain had invented. That time has been sucked into the abyss of “the lost hours.”
Sadly, I had more to contend with than just exhaustion. It turns out that kids can really wind themselves up for such an event, but they eventually come crashing down. Hard. And their over-tiredness turns them into cranky monsters. They were difficult (at best) Saturday and Sunday and my well of patience was bone dry. Let’s just say it’s a good thing they are cute.
By Sunday afternoon/evening, we all felt more human. They turned back into normal children and my senses/memory became more reliable. Here in the bright light of Monday afternoon, my brain synapses are firing like it never happened. Though that doesn’t mean that I will be signing up for another all-nighter anytime soon.
photo by Unsplash