Just had a baby? Feeling sleep deprived? Have you fallen asleep with the baby in your arms and woken up three hours later in the same position? Do you drift through the day in a zombie-like state, fantasising about pillows?
Well, welcome to parenthood. While those whose children sleep through the night from birth will probably not recognise this scenario, I say wait for teething. And if that doesn't get you, what about a few years down the line when you have gone freelance or self employed or whatever to get some flexibility to get through the whole working parent thing? You may find yourself of a half term getting up very, very early and going to bed very, very late as you essentially try to fit two days into one in order to cover holiday childcare.
Here are some tips for those in the early stages of sleep deprivation for how to fake looking awake at work when you have been up half the night soothing a baby/toddler or catching up on emails:
1. The obvious one. Drink lots of caffeine. Where at all possible, hook yourself up to an intravenous caffeine drip, although it's best not to overdo it. You can end up a trembling wreck and then you'll have to cover up the twitches.
2. Keep talking. Listening requires much more energy and if you keep talking, at least you'll still be awake. Remember at all times to keep busy. You won't last five minutes if you start watching the clock.
3. Divert attention from the nonsensical nature of your sentences. After one hour's sleep, sentences tend to begin and then be left hanging in the air as you forget where it was you were going and where it was you had come from. Avoid this at all costs, unless you want to appear mysterious, like you are having so many deep thoughts that you can't possibly finish a sentence without more thoughts crowding in. You know that diverting attention works with children who are throwing a strop. It also works on adults. If you are involved in a meeting about some obscure point of strategic planning, bring in some extraneous and entertaining anecdote. It will wake the others up too.
4. Develop cold-like symptoms and go for the sympathy vote. After all, severe sleep deprivation makes you look like you're ill or at least in need of a few days/months in bed.
5. Avoid anything that requires a lot of concentration and focus on things you can do quickly, such as answering emails at top speed. It looks like you are being productive.
6. Tidy your desk. See above.
7. Walk around the office a lot and offer to get people teas, lunch, etc. They'll be grateful and you'll get some much needed fresh air.
8. Keep a low profile. Alternatively, try to be the centre of attention. This is a cunning ploy to throw people off the scent and should only be attempted by the true sleep-deprivation expert.
9. Dip your eyelashes in ice-cold water/set fire to your fingernails. This is obviously a last-ditch tactic.
10. Never ever drink alcohol during the day. Don't have a heavy lunch. If possible, starve all day. The rumbling noises will keep you awake.