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What Sleep May Come

Sleep is becoming an issue for the Brookline Parents.

Along with most of the rest of the country, Brookline went off of Daylight Saving Time and back onto Standard Time this past Sunday. I briefly toyed with the idea of keeping Muffin and Squeaker awake until 3 am to watch us turn the clocks back to 2 am, but then I remembered that I am sane. So we did the usual thing of setting the clocks back on Saturday night, and we awoke to the extra hour that people enjoy in the autumn.

Nomi and I have opposing opinions on the usefulness of Daylight Saving Time. I don’t like the way it gets dark as early as 4 pm in the winter; if it were up to me, I’d keep us on Daylight Time throughout the year. Nomi, on the other hand, thinks that Daylight Time is nonsensical and doesn’t like how it means it’s dark early in the morning when we return to it in the spring.

Both of us, though, agree with many of our friends who don’t like the way changing the time affects their circadian rhythm. We have friends who used to note how badly the hour change hit their kids. Now that Muffin and Squeaker have a regular sleep schedule, I felt a little apprehensive as we approached the “” of the clocks this week.

As it is, Muffin and Squeaker did need to adjust to the new clock schedule. During the workweek, their usual habit is to wake up a little before seven in the morning and babble at each other. We usually give them about half an hour in their cribs before we knock on their door and get them started for the day.

This week began with us hearing them babble and sing starting around 5:30 am. Babbling is a lot better than wailing, but they sometimes mix their babbling with screeching, and then we can’t get back to sleep. Muffin and Squeaker were on a normal schedule for their own bodies this week; however, the rest of the world had changed time around them. Our hope is that by the time you read this, their sleep schedules will have adjusted accordingly.

Oddly enough, though, it wasn’t the week we returned to Standard Time that disrupted their sleep schedule. For whatever reason, it was the week of the October snowstorm, and not this past week, that reminded us of the time when Nomi and I thought a regular night’s sleep would forever be a memory.

On Sunday morning and Tuesday morning of last week, Squeaker woke up wailing well before 4 am. She seems to have had a bad dream both times; at least, when I asked her if she had a bad dream, she said, “Yeah.”

Now, previously, when Squeaker woke up wailing, I was able to comfort her and eventually she was willing to go back to her crib and stay quiet, so as not to wake her sister. But on both Sunday morning and Tuesday morning of that week, she was much more difficult to console. On Sunday morning, she let me leave her in her crib if I left their bedroom door open. On Tuesday morning, however, she cried every time I tried to return her to her crib. Sure enough, her wails ended up waking Muffin. Muffin was okay to go back to sleep, but Squeaker wasn’t, and so Nomi and I had rather harried days on Sunday and Tuesday.

Thursday morning was Muffin’s turn. Muffin woke up wailing an hour before we get up for work, and she would only go back to sleep in a parent’s arms. This time, Nomi took care of the consolation duties while I tried to catch a smidge more of sleep, but it was too late. Our exhaustion pervaded the day.

I’ve been trying to figure out why Muffin and Squeaker had such a bad week last week, when there was no apparent reason for it. I think I’ve hit on a theory. Perhaps Muffin and Squeaker, being the children of a science-fiction writer, are just as sensitive to the future. Somehow, they could intuit that the upcoming clock change would disrupt their schedules, and they decided to let it affect them the week beforehand, so as to register their displeasure in advance.

I’ll have to test this theory. I think in the middle of next March, I’ll set the clocks ahead one Sunday and see what happens...

This week’s column is written by Michael A. Burstein.

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