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Lucy Mangan: ‘Parental Fatigue Has Literally Broken My Brain’

Forget about a lie-in – they’re off radar for, oh, the next half decade, says writer Lucy Mangan

Motherhood didn’t change my lifestyle all that much to be honest. I already lived in chaos, never went out and felt eternally guilty about everything. As far as all that was concerned, a baby was just the stale icing on an already old cake.I miss only one thing. Sleep. Oh dear God, how I miss it. I love sleep. Never a moment’s insomnia in my life. Eight hours of the dreamless every night is what I need to function.

'Fatigue is now my constant companion and my brain is broken'

But it’s been nearly three years since I last had that. Fatigue is now my constant companion and my brain is broken. I could put my head down on my keyboard right now anddajdsfjkdfweiruiweuwojlzjlzglerilsfg hfkvujnbncmzzzzzz. Sorry. Where was I?

No catching up. Ever

I don’t know whether to despair or delight in new research that has just come out of America showing that catching up at the weekend on the sleep deprivation built up over the week can’t be done.

Experiments showed that the stress hormone and brain inflammation levels (that’s right, Missing. Sleep. Inflames. Your. Brain) can be lowered by a slumber binge, but your mental alertness remains sub-optimum. Which, for those of you sleeping even less than I am, is the scientific term for bollixed.

I think, on the whole, we should despair. Because, as my best friend and fellow mother-of-toddler-who-has-not-yet-slept-past-six-am, puts it, ‘Five fricking days? I’m staring down the barrel of five fricking years!’

Barter for your lie-in

Mathematically speaking, it means she could sleep from now until October 2015 and still not be right in the head. And that’s before you factor in all the other stresses. Like the fact that, if your partner is helping at all, he will be knackered, too, and you will both spend your entire daylight hours bartering for more time in bed.

‘My husband did me out of a promised lie-in on a Sunday morning three months ago, because he came in drunk (waking me up!) and couldn’t get up with his hangover. He thinks I’ve forgotten, like I forget everything else, but I so haven’t. I never will,’ revealed one friend.

Another’s bitterest row with her husband during the new-baby months was whether staying in bed when ill (she had the flu) counted towards her lie-in allocation. ‘I could tear his throat out thinking about it, even now,’ she says. Her child has just started school…

My best advice? Let everything else go – laundry, cleaning, socialising, showering – before you lose more sleep. Without it, nothing else will work. Trust me – I knosdklfjdfgkjsrtjksdnvcbmnp…

To read Lucy Mangan’s monthly column, subscribe to Mother & Baby magazine here

Lucy’s new book Charlie's Chocolate Factory: the Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket and Roald Dahl's Greatest Creation is out on September 4th.

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