Have you ever experienced a state of extreme exhaustion when you act oddly? After making a cup of coffee, you placed a jar of instant coffee in the refrigerator and put a carton of milk back in the cabinet.
Fortunately, you should be fortunate enough to receive enough sleep these days, so many mental lapses are uncommon. However, you should be able to recollect a point in your life when rest wasn’t as regular and abundant, and such transient gaps in focus were relatively common.
When discussing the early years of motherhood, you can sometimes have trouble putting sentences together because you feel exhausted. Babylag is a word used to describe the acute exhaustion that comes with caring for a tiny infant and is quite familiar to many of us.
A 2012 study of 1000 young parents found that around 50% receive five hours or less of sleep per night, much less than the recommended eight hours. A third or more of the surveyed parents reported being up for a minimum of an hour each time they were awakened three or more times.
The issue with being repeatedly awakened in this manner is that the mind has little opportunity to go into a stage of “deep” sleep and therefore be refreshed for the next day. The end consequence is a sense of fatigue compared to jet lag, but unlike that condition, it cannot be overcome in a few days.
Although the majority of new parents, including myself in a previous life, would agree that being exhausted in the early stages of raising children is not something to be laughed at, babylag does seem to have a humorous side, with many of the survey respondents describing strange behaviour brought on by lack of sleep. Lack of focus may result in weird occurrences like dozing off in the bathroom, dressing inappropriately, or putting baby milk into breakfast cereal.
A funny finding from the poll was that while parents wouldn’t “swap” their children for a calm existence, they would be willing to make other concessions in exchange for the prospect of a nice night.
Background – babylag
As a promotional tactic for Johnson’s baby “bedtime” toiletry line, the term “babylag” had its mainstream media debut in September 2012 on both sides of the Atlantic in connection with a poll commissioned by Johnson’s baby goods brand.
Dr Dev Banerjee, a sleep specialist at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital, is said to have invented the phrase after seeing the similarity between symptoms parents experience and jet lag — the exhaustion associated with travelling between regions in which the time is different. Babylag has been used in word plays as far back as the early 1990s, so it’s not the first time the comparison has been drawn between these two scenarios.
“jetlagged” comes from “jet lag,” and “baby lagged” is becoming a word. Jet lag was first used in the mid-1960s. It refers to planes with jet engines and lag, which may have come from Scandinavian and mean “going slow.” In recent years, the term “social jet lag” was made up to describe how tired you feel when you return to work after vacation.