Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sleeping Like a Baby

Do you remember taking naps in kindergarten?  Yeah, I don’t either; I remember making a paper mache triceratops, but not napping.  However, I’m told that children generally nap during the day in kindergarten because five-year-olds still need rest time. This is, of course, a continuation of the nap time in which infants indulge for a large portion of their days.  (But not their nights)   A new baby, fresh from spending nine months in a dark, cramped womb, enters a world full of sensations, people, and stuffed animals and within hours, responds to this amazing change of environment by falling asleep.  This pattern continues for a long time.  A baby wakes up in the morning, then after a few grueling hours of eating, staring at air molecules, and filling its diaper, falls asleep for upwards of an hour.  The process repeats itself throughout the day, thereby allowing the baby enough energy reserves to make it through the entire night without sleeping.  A person who has never had a child would be tempted to assume that the young parents of an infant have a hard time filling the hours.  It is easy to picture a parent putting a baby down for an hour nap and then working on a novel, completing an online degree, or studying the latest child-rearing techniques.  But many parents, eschewing the opportunity for career or personal advancement, spend a baby’s nap time on a far more important endeavor:  napping themselves.  Fortunately for new parents, as well as all of society, children tend to continue napping at least a few hours a day well into their fifth year of existence, until they suddenly realize they could be coloring on the walls instead.  In fact, if one were to compare a group of kindergarten students to a group of new parents, the napping ratio might be higher in the latter population.  Babies need naps so they can continue to eat, poop, and follow unseen objects around the room with wide eyes.  Parents need naps because they have to feed, change, and entertain the wide eyed baby every few hours during the time when humans who haven’t recently given birth generally sleep. 

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