Are you a faker?

Do you ever pretend to sleep?

Pretend Sleeping for Parents

This is an essential skill for any parent. It is useful on several levels. When you are a new parent and your baby cries in the night, there will be nights when you have no interest in getting out of bed. You may be so tired you can’t figure out how to make your body work to get you out of bed. You may feel like you just finished putting the kid to sleep or perhaps you have to get up and go to work in the morning. Regardless of your excuse or how valid it is, it is important to know how to fake sleep until your partner – who is probably also fake sleeping – gives in and goes to deal with the baby.

When your kids are older, they will come in to wake you up, or at least peek into your room to see if you are asleep. If you hope to remain in bed, even for just another five minutes, pretending to sleep will help to buy you time. Once you have teenagers, they will be the ones doing the pretending prior to climbing out their second story window and repelling down the outside of the house to go to the party you said they couldn’t attend. Being a master-level pretend sleeper will help you to spot when your teen is fake-sleeping. This will enable you to set up the motion-sensor lights and alarm system to catch them in the act of escaping.

Pretend Sleeping Facts

Several newspapers in 2014 reported on a study apparently done by Huggies DryNights that indicated that 56% of fathers in the UK reported pretending to sleep to avoid dealing with a kid in the night. I’d link to the study if I could. Unfortunately I can find no evidence online that the study actually happened. There doesn’t appear to be a comparable study – real or fake – for how often mothers pretend to be asleep. That gives me complete creative license to give you some real facts. Parents of all genders pretend to sleep at fairly equal rates. Dads get away with it more often. Of course that doesn’t mean that you should skip out on your parenting duties. Just make sure you give in and go to your crying child at least 50% of the time.

If you are a dad or going to be a dad, you need to develop and hone this skill. It isn’t as easy as just lying still and hoping that nobody tickles you or notices that you are awake. The body of a sleeping person does different things than the body of an awake person. In order to be an effective fake sleeper, you need to understand what is happening when you are really sleeping.

Sleep Cycles

Our bodies and in particular our brains go through five stages when we are sleeping. These cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes.

Stage 1: This is when your body makes freaky spasms. It is also the stage of sleep that you experience most often in classes. You know, when you wake up in a panic because you felt like you were falling.

Stage 2: Your eyes stop moving around and brain activity slows down.

Stage 3 & 4: This is deep sleep land. Your breathing is very slow  in this stage. This is the stage when you are totally out and it is hard for others to wake you up. This is the stage where sleep walking, bedwetting and night terrors happen.

REM Sleep: This is dream land. Your breathing is more rapid and irregular. Your brain is much more active. If you are awakened during this stage, you are likely to remember the monkeys throwing potatoes at t-shirt vendors disguised as waterfalls from your dreams.

Now that you know the various sleep stages you can decide which stage will be easiest for you to mimic. While I think stage one and the REM sleep stage would be the most fun, I find it much easier to go for the deep sleep stage.

Pretending to be in deep sleep tips:

  • Don’t move
  • Focus on breathing very, very slowly
  • Listen to your partner’s breathing to see how good their pretend sleeping is
  • If neither one of you are giving in, grunt and roll over. Bonus points if you bump them in the process since that could wake them up and help you win the contest
  • If you have to get up, make sure to be super groggy and stumble around to help build your case for it being your partners turn the next time

What tactics do you use to avoid getting out of bed?

Share with your fellow parents who find themselves getting out of bed too often at night.

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Chris Farley Ratcliff
Chris Farley Ratcliffe is dad to three girls and writes about fatherhood, kids and current affairs at His superpowers include removing loose teeth on request and carrying more than one kid at a time. Chris lives in Ottawa, Canada.