Monday 6 November 2017

10 Ways You Know You Have A Light Sleeper

My one-year-old has always been a light sleeper. I know this because I have grown terrified of creaky floorboards and live in a near-constant state of rage when it is windy at night (why is wind so loud?). Her big sister can sleep through anything. I could drive a tank into her room, hoover her mattress and rap the Prince of Bel Air theme tune loudly in her ear and she wouldn’t stir. So, this light sleeper territory is new to me. New and terrible. If you’re also cursed with a light sleeper, you will be familiar with the following:

1. You know all your creaky floorboards by heart
My internal monologue in the evenings is now just me frantically thinking “do not stand on the third step” whenever anybody goes up the stairs. And god help those that do. There’s also a floorboard in our room, just near the door, that has adopted an exaggerated groan whenever it is stepped on, which leads to quite the farcical escape when I finally manage to get the light sleeper to drift off.

2. You have developed your own sign language
I can convey pretty much anything to Laurie these days with a few simple gestures and exaggerated facial expressions. It’s a lot like the gestures you might adopt while trying to pretend you’re not the arsehole who didn’t bother to learn the language when holidaying in a foreign country. It is mostly a lot of aggressive pointing with the occasional shrug thrown in for good measure, but it works. Mostly.

3. You always watch TV with the subtitles on
Our living room is directly underneath the room where Ember sleeps. As such, we have gotten used to watching television with the volume so slow that we often have to put the subtitles on. I want to create a TV that plays everything at the same volume - shouting, whispering, explosions so that I wouldn’t have to keep changing the volume. Every time a male character speaks (why do all men have booming voices that reverberate around the house?), I have to turn the TV down so low that I can’t hear any of the women speaking. The patriarchy is even more real when you have a light sleeper in the house.

4. You argue about noise
Probably about 80% of my marital disputes stem from noise. Not only how loud the TV volume should be (he thinks at least 12, I think 7 at most) but also about how much noise we make. I consider myself to be like an oversized tailless mouse, creeping silently from room to room without disturbing a soul. Laurie is more like a mouth-breathing buffalo who hurls himself down the stairs (yes, even the creaky third step) at speed and sighs loud enough to wake the neighbours. Most of the conversations we have with each other are actually just me telling him to be quiet.

5. You don’t go upstairs in the evenings unless absolutely necessary
Upstairs is no man’s land in our house from the minute Ember falls asleep. Once she’s snoring, we do not go upstairs. This isn’t too bad because we have a downstairs loo, but if we didn’t, we would be pissing in the garden so that we didn’t risk waking her up. I would rather freeze than go upstairs to fetch a jumper and risk waking Ember.

6. You clean your teeth downstairs
You know what wakes my toddler up? Breathing. You know what’s louder than breathing? An electric toothbrush. Holy hell, those things are loud. And not only are they loud, they create a background noise that sounds a lot like a baby crying so even if the hum of the toothbrush doesn’t wake the baby, you will when you run in to check on them. I clean my teeth downstairs now to reduce the risk of waking her.

7. There is no talking after lights out
If Laurie has been out for the evening, he might arrive home chatty and will slip into bed and ask (in his booming male voice) how my evening was. I ignore him, of course, and use the strained whites of my eyes to try and communicate that there should be no more talking. If he has had a few beers, he will inevitably miss the signal and continue talking and then I will have to move onto my military hand gestures to abruptly end the chat.

8. You have no sympathy for people with coughs
Coughs are the worst, they are very loud. Anyone with a cough is immediately banned from the bedroom and sent to live in the spare room where they can cough without fear. Or without as much fear, at least, because the coughing will probably still wake Ember up but at least they won’t have to witness my rage face. Don’t expect to get any sympathy when you have a cough if you live in a house with a light sleeper. I have even been known to get annoyed with the neighbour for having a cough (terraced life).

9. You have a weird silent laugh
I used to have a loud squeal in place of a laugh. I think I still do when drunk but I cannot confirm this because I am usually too drunk to notice. I never really thought about laughter before I had kids. I just laughed when I thought something was funny and didn’t pay much attention to the pitch or length of the laugh. Not so anymore. I have woken Ember up too many times by laughing, and have now developed a silent laugh that is all about the double chin and accompanying wheeze. It’s not very attractive but it also doesn’t wake up nearby babies and I feel that is more important at this stage in my life.

10. You do not wash in the evenings
Our bathroom fan is loud. So loud that it was at the top of our list of things to sort out when we moved into the house three and a half years ago. It is now louder than ever before. It’s connected to the light so we can’t turn the bathroom light on in the evenings. I miss having baths in the evening, hiding away with a book and washing away the stresses of the day. But I would rather stay stressed and filthy forever rather than risk that stupid fan waking the baby, and so I never have baths anymore. It’s just not worth it.

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