Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sleepless in (insert your city here)

The older I get, the less I sleep, what’s up with that? When I was seventeen I could sleep until noon, and now that I’m middle aged I struggle to get in a solid eight hours (and I love to sleep). At this rate by the time I retire I’ll be down to twenty minutes. The reasons for my sleeplessness are many, let me review a few of them here:

My husband is the human equivalent of a nuclear power plant. He throws off more body heat than a wood stove. Nice in the winter, but brutal in the summer – and no one can sleep when they’re hot.

We have dogs, one of which is an early riser – and I mean early. If you’re not up and out of bed by 5:45 AM she’s on your case. First comes the staring, then hot dog breath in your face, followed by pawing, and if none of this works she brings out the big guns – she licks your face. Yuck! There’s nothing quite like starting your day with a big, wet, stinky, dog kiss.

Another dog is not an early riser (he squints his eyes and rubs them with his paws when you turn the light on in the morning), however he’s fond of the midnight foray to faff around the backyard for five minutes and just “check things out”. He gets the backdoor opened by masquerading this little jaunt with an “I have pee NOW” whine. I get sucked in every time, what if he really does have to pee?

I travel internationally for work, so am often jet lagged. Either traveling ahead or behind, it doesn’t matter; your sleep just doesn’t pick up where you left off despite the fact that you revel being back in your own bed.

I can’t stop thinking about, well, everything. Work, friends, my desk, the kitchen, Will it rain on Saturday? I really need to clean the guest bedroom closet. When should we have the yard sale? We should bathe the dogs this weekend. STOP. But I can’t and it drives me crazy and keeps me awake.

And if all that weren’t enough, I suffer from occasional bouts of insomnia. You know what I’m talking about; you get in a rut that you cannot break. You wake up at 2:00 AM one day and then – boom – that’s it, you wake up at 2:00 AM everyday, with no end in sight. I try to stay in bed and will myself back to sleep, but ultimately I end up flopping around like a fish out of water – sometimes for hours at a time.

A couple of years ago I got to the breaking point, a person can only go so long without a good night’s sleep. I made an appointment with the doctor for some help. Yep, the “better living through chemicals” kind of help. My husband was alarmed (note: he was sleeping through ALL of the above) as soon as I hung up the phone he made a comment about my forthcoming addiction to the sleeping pills that the doctor would – I could only hope - prescribe for me. My response was quick and sharp, “how about we wait until I actually leave the house for the appointment before we start worrying about addiction”.

I have to preface my husband’s concern by stating that he has a general aversion to the “better living through chemicals” lifestyle. He takes an aspirin for everything. Got a cold? Take an aspirin. Drive a nail through your finger? Take an aspirin. Cut your arm off with a chainsaw? Take an aspirin. I, on the other hand, am quite happy to occasionally take a magic pill.

A week later I had a prescription for an extremely low-dose sleep aid in my hand and I promptly went to the pharmacy to fill it. That evening I took a pill and…I almost tear up thinking about…I had one of the best night's sleep of my entire life. Eight hours, straight through. I woke up feeling great. It was fantastic, right up until the moment my husband asked, “Do you recall driving, binge eating, sleep talking, or performing any other daily tasks while sleeping last night?”


  1. I feel your pain. I worked night shift for a number of years so now if I am up or wake up at 2am I am hungry!! Also such a light sleeper that if any animal moves off the bed I am up.

  2. the reason you can only sleep 20 minutes when you retire is so that you'll have plenty of time to do all the things you can't do now, like take a nap in the middle of the day.....