Tired is the new black. It’s fashionable and everyone seems to be wearing it. To be tired is a measurement of success. It means you’re busy doing something and the busier you are, the better you must be. Sleeping is apparently now reserved solely for the slothful. Basically, if you’re sleeping, you’re a loser.
Doubt me? Try this fun game – interject into your next conversation that you got eight hours of sleep last night. Two things will happen: 1) You will get a variety of looks from pity to disgust and 2) People will immediately start sharing their lack of sleep tally, as in “Wow, I think the last time I slept eight hours I was in elementary school” or “Are you kidding me? I don’t think I’ve slept eight hours total this entire month.”
And if tired is the new black, then insomnia is its perfect accessory. If social media and the school drop off-line are to be believed, everyone is now suffering from insomnia. We’re all a bunch of colicky infants that can’t sleep through the night and just like we track the hours spent exercising on our Fitbit, we’re now keeping sleeping journals.
As with any hot fashion trend that’s aimed primarily at adults, it sooner than later is seen as appropriate for children. Just ask anyone who works with your kids. Now, along with their iPhone 5s, you can find most children in the ‘burbs working a terminal case of tired. We have 11-year-olds walking into middle school every morning clutching their Starbucks venti coffee frappuccino.
I was at a sports competition over the weekend and eavesdropping (it’s my gift) on parents complaining to coaches about their childrens’ performance. As is usually the way of a lot of hyper competitive parents, their complaining was directed more at what the coach was “doing wrong” and not on how their kids could improve. The one thing I heard over and over again from the coaches is that the kids were tired. Not tired from running or jumping, but from not getting enough sleep. This stumped the parents like somehow sleep was not a must-have but a maybe. One coach tried to explain, with what I thought was the skill of a Roman orator, that sleep was fuel for the brain and body. The parent listened half-heartedly and then had a counter argument that their kid was drinking Red Bull so wasn’t that “taking care of the problem.” The energy drink as a sleep replacement tool has gotten so out of hand that my daughter’s school just had an assembly on the topic.
When did sleep became a dirty word? I know the argument is that we’re all over-programmed – adults and children alike. But are we? Where is it written in stone that you or your child or you has to do everything? I have a theory (one of many – it’s my other gift) that all this adolescent girl drama, that is currently topic number 1 for any mother with a girl over age 10, is primarily because our daughters are exhausted. They’re plain old worn out and just like when an infant or toddler misses a nap and has a meltdown in the check out line at Target, our daughters are now having super-sized tantrums fueled by estrogen surges and sleep deprivation.
Think of all the problems that could be solved, the serenity that would blossom and wrap around us like the most comfy of blankets, if we could all lay our heads down on a pillow of “I’ve done enough today” and embrace sleep without shame.