My mother calls it “father’s ear.” I used to call it a big lie. Turns out my husband really was asleep. According to a new study of sleep patterns commissioned by a British maker of cold medicines for the MindLab Institution, “while a baby’s sobbing is the number one sound most likely to wake up a woman, it doesn’t even figure in the male top ten.”
The study set out to measure how many people are woken up by a partner’s coughing or sneezing. To their amazement, they found that a man would probably be woken up by both of those things, as well as a car alarm, howling wind, chirping crickets, sirens, the ticking of a clock, or the buzzing of a fly, well before he would be woken up by the midnight howls of his own flesh and blood.
I first heard this news on my favorite podcast, NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, where the host, Peter Sagal, concluded, “This study will come as no surprise to women with babies. Or babies. Or men.” He did have a solution for mothers, however:
Here is some advice for mothers who want their husbands, for once, to get up with the baby: attach the child to a car alarm. Or a cricket. That works.