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Dec. 4, 2018

Searching for Mr. Sandman

Dec. 5, 2018

Tap, tap, tap. TAP, TAP, TAP. A increasingly more insistent furry paw was tapping out an urgent Morse code on my forehead this morning. I opened my eyes to find it was 4:42 a.m. – way too early to be rolling out of bed. Yet, there was no ignoring my pup who clearly needed to go outside. So, I pulled on my coat and boots and ventured out with her into the cold night air.

Once she had done her business, we came inside and she hopped up on the bed and fell soundly asleep again. Ah, but if only I could have done the same. Instead, I tossed and turned and tossed and turned cursing Mr. Sandman for ignoring me.

I’m actually lucky my dog is no longer a puppy who is up multiple times in a night. In fact, she normally doesn’t get up at all. My coworker spent last night as the first night with a brand-new bundle of fur. I think he said she was up four times to go out and also did some whining. Another coworker adopted a couple of kittens a few days ago. With bleary eyes she told me how adorable they are, yet they are very nocturnal.

Such is to be expected when you have a new baby in the house – furry or human. I really lucked out with my little human – she started sleeping through the night (for the most part) when she was only two weeks old. As a working mom, it was critical to my sanity that she let me get a decent amount of shuteye during her first year.

To be fair, I usually kept her up late and spent a lot of time wearing her out with activity. I do the same with my dog now – the difference between three miles of walking and doing just one makes for a noticeably more awake dog in the wee hours of the morning.

Turns out, I was doing the right thing. A new study by MSU researchers showed that babies who are less active get less sleep at night and didn’t make up for it even with napping. So, if you’ve got little ones at home, I highly suggest some daytime activities to make for more restful nights.

Stress and anxiety also play a role in sleep behavior. This time of year a lot of people feel even more stressed out. While Norman Rockwell scenes dot holiday ads, the reality is that for people who feel excluded or different from their families, December can be particularly taxing.

Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, an assistant professor of communication and director of the Family Research Lab, says it’s not the holidays themselves, but the stage they set for strained relationships. Check out her FACULTY VOICE: Family time during the holidays, to learn why she suggests families “take a page from those holiday songs and movies and try to be inclusive of different perspectives and life decisions…”

The worst time I’ve ever had with sleeping patterns had nothing to do with family, and everything to do with jet lag. When I traveled with some colleagues to document incredible MSU research and work all over the world, we were in a new country (and time zone) every couple of days. We were moving so fast, there was no way Mr. Sandman could keep up. But, I was OK with it. There was way too much important work to be done and cool stories we wanted to share to worry about missing a little sleep. As Spartans, we had a whole lot of will to persevere.

I’m sure a lot of students feel the same this week as they prepare for finals. It’s always amazing to me how many things students have going on. They aren’t just taking classes but participating in countless opportunities in research, community service, internships, entrepreneurial endeavors and more.

Justin Liber has probably sacrificed some sleep during his time as a Spartan. Although still an undergraduate, he’s already been immersed in plant research — he even assisted in describing a new species in soil and published a paper on it. Check out his STUDENT VIEW: Undergrad research opportunities, to learn more about this determined young Spartan.

I’m tired just reading about the work he’s done. While I’m hoping to have a more restful night tonight, I’ll manage just fine with a little less. Sleeping through life isn’t an option for any Spartan. Spartans see a challenge and dream about how to solve it. Then, we buckle down, get to work and make it happen. Catch you on the flip side, Mr. Sandman. We’ll rest after we do our part to make the world a better place. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone


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