Tag Archives: sleep

In Awe of Sleep

JANEI have to write about sleep again, since it keeps evading me.  I could rant and rave about how little sleep I have had over the past 10 years, or I could talk about how much I dread going to bed at night, knowing that I will be up again at 3 a.m., all by my lonesome, walking around trying to figure out what to do with my time.  But I don’t want to do that.  It’s too boring.  Everyone has heard it before.

I do want to write about how much I miss sleep and how I long to have it back in my life.  I don’t think I ever realized how much I loved and appreciated sleep until it left me.  Growing up, I took it for granted that I would go to bed at night and sleep until morning, without interruption.  I also took for granted how rested and alive I felt each day.  And any time I was exhausted from some activity or event, I knew that I would recover after a good night’s sleep.  I remember my mother saying to me often, “All you need is a good night’s sleep.”   And she was right.  That’s all I need right now:  one good night’s sleep.

But that’s not going to happen.  I can fall asleep without any problem, but come 3 a.m. or so, every night, I am wide awake, either worryin about some stupid thing or just plain wide awake.

I know one thing that ruined my sleep was having four children and waking up all night to feed them.  I tend to think that’s what ruined my sleep patterns for good, but I’m not really sure.  Plenty of people I know, especially women over fifty, never sleep through the night.  It just seems to be the new reality. So, maybe it was Menopause.  Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it’s having grown children.  Maybe it’s having pets.  Maybe it’s just being over fifty.  Who knows?

All I know is this:  I want to take a minute to say to anyone out there who has the ability to sleep through the night every night:  enjoy it!!! Never take it for granted!  Luxuriate in it!  Sleep an extra hour for me!  I wish to heaven I could take your place, even for just one night.



Chasing Sleep


It is 4 a.m., and, once again, I cannot sleep. Once again, after turning out the lights with some feeling of dread (I really am not very fond of nighttime any more), I fell asleep easily and even stayed asleep until my normal time of around 3:30 a.m. (sometimes it’s 3:15, sometimes 4:00), at which time I came wide awake, with my brain and heart racing. Part of my problem is that I have sleep apnea, but I’ve done everything I could about that: I’ve lost weight; I hook myself up to a CPAP machine every night; I go see my sleep doctor once a year. Another part of my problem is that I have an excess of energy. I think if I had come along a little later in the scheme of things, I probably would have been diagnosed as ADHD. But the main problem, I think, is that I have somehow become, over time, a human robot that can go for long periods without sleep.


I’ve tried lots of different sleep medications, all of which have helped for a time. But the problem persists. And so I have actually surrendered and stopped taking medication. I’ve found that I can function better the next day if I have not taken anything. It turns out I do better at work on the mornings that I have decided to just get out of bed and stay awake until the rest of the house wakes up, than on the mornings where I’ve taken something to lure me into groggy sleep.

One trick: I try not to think about the fact that I haven’t had much sleep. But I can’t help but wonder sometimes if, one of these days, I’m just going to drop dead from the cumulative effect. Can you tell I’m writing this at 4 a.m.?

In the middle of the night, when everyone else in my house is asleep—and there are no people walking by outside, and even our dogs are sound asleep in the kitchen—I have several options for entertainment: 1) watching reruns on television of “I Love Lucy” (skipping over all the other wonderful choices, such as sex advice shows and endless infomercials) 2) working through a puzzle book from cover to cover 3) washing and folding clothes 4) getting caught up on FaceBook.  I have tried nobler pursuits, such as reading, but here’s the real surprise: my brain is not fully functional at 4 a.m.! It’s functional enough to work a Word Search, maybe, but it’s not up to a Sudoku—and definitely not up to reading anything that requires thinking. It does have a special talent for repeating sections of songs in my head—never the whole thing, just sections—in an endless loop. Tonight, it’s “This is gonna be a good life; this could really be a good life; this has gotta be a good life…a good, good life.” To think that I used to like that song!

It’s also functional enough to review all the things I forgot to take care of during the day—such as taking something to the dry cleaner or mailing an important form to someone somewhere—those things I can’t do a damn thing about in the middle of the night. It’s even functional enough—on good nights—to repeat relevant lines of poetry, such as “I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain and back in rain. I have outwalked the farthest city lights…”. Or “I wake to sleep and take my waking slow…I move by going where I have to go.” Keep in mind that my brain is not always accurate to the letter!


I blame my present condition of sleeplessness on my children, of course: too many nights of getting up to nurse or help a child through a nightmare or—later on—to wait for a new driver to arrive safely home. I just figure that when you have 4 children, and your body gets jolted out of sleep one too many times, it gets permanently stuck in awake mode. Seems reasonable to me—especially at 4 a.m.

When I used to be awake with one baby or another, I would imagine an invention that I would introduce to the market: a phone where you could somehow tell that your friend, also the mother of a baby, was awake and walking the floor at the exact time as you—so you could push a green button on your phone and she would see it and pick up the phone—without any noise—and you could at least talk to each other and help each other through the long night. Turns out I didn’t need to invent it, since FaceBook works that way. I wonder if young mothers use it for that purpose!

I’ll end by saying this: if you are someone who can sleep peacefully and soundly through the night, every night, do me a favor and count your blessings. I would, as my mother used to say, “give a pretty penny” to be in your shoes.

In the meantime, I hope there are others like me out there, waking their dogs by deciding to clean the kitchen at 4:30 a.m.! I do remember there was a lot of talk about sleeplessness a few years back—but not so much any more. I guess I would like to know if I am not the only one who went through menopause and ended up a sleepless automaton on the other side.


Great Product for Women over 50: Sleep Aid

Great Products for Women over 50:  Sleep Aid

I don’t usually give plugs, but today I am singing the virtues of Sleep Aid.


For the past five to six years, I have had trouble staying asleep.  No problem with getting to sleep:  I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, usually with my glasses still on my nose and words still tumbling out of my mouth.  (Tom loves talking to me in bed at night:  it’s a special time for us.) But then I wake up at 3 a.m. or so—always close to 3—with my thoughts racing—and a horrible, overwhelming feeling of despair.  I try to go back to sleep, but I usually find that I can’t, since 1) I am a terrible mother 2) Tom and I are utter failures at being successful grown-ups 3) my children will live in places close to the coast and they will drown under the ocean that is rapidly rising due to global warming or 4) nuclear war will obliterate us all—including every last trace of anything that anyone, even Shakespeare, ever created—and the lone and level sands of “Ozymandias” will stretch far away.


So, I usually give up and bound out of bed, thinking that since I can’t sleep, I might as well do something productive, like start tackling War and Peace or folding the five weeks of unfolded laundry or putting pictures in photo albums—all of which leads me, in a panic about not getting 8 good hours of sleep, to lie down on the couch in front of the tv and watch animal rescue stories or interviews with slimy doctors giving sex advice—which depresses me again and validates my worst fears about the future of our civilization.

So, I haven’t been too happy about this state of affairs—especially since it has often resulted in my head banging down on my desk at work at about 2 p.m., typing an endless row of b’s and v’s (this seems to be where my forehead connects most often with my keyboard).   It’s a miserable condition.

Until recently, I just figured this was my lot in life, since I am apparently one of those women that hits menopause and never sleeps through the night again.  It seemed like a logical tradeoff for never having hot flashes.  When I wasn’t blaming it on menopause, I couldn’t help but see it as a consequence of all those nights of interrupted sleep from getting up with babies and young children—but this kind of thinking was not helpful.  It just made me bitter and twisted thinking about my friends who didn’t have children—and how their faces look so relaxed and unwrinkled at this age.  Better to blame menopause, since it comes to everyone.

In any case, I thought I just had to grin and bear it—another pleasant little surprise on my womanly journey through life that men like my soundly sleeping husband would–bless their little deprived hearts—never get to experience.

Sort of like childbirth.

Then, my wonderful friend, Maggi, told me about Sleep Aid.

I realize this blogpost is sounding like a commercial.  Too bad.  I can’t help it:  I love this product!  I worship it!  It has changed my life!  And—at least according to my limited research (their website)—it is neither harmful nor dangerous!

Here’s how it works:  I pop one in, right before getting into bed at night, and then I sleep.  I actually sleep.  I don’t wake up at 3 a.m.  I don’t even wake up at 5 when our 11-year-old dog barks her fool head off at the paper boy.  I just sleep, blissful and oblivious.

I do have some knowledge of the product.  I can tell you that is a mild antihistame that you can buy off the shelf at Sam’s Club—I’m sure there must also be a version (probably with a different name) at your local drugstore.

But here’s the best part:  it doesn’t work like a sleeping pill.  So you don’t wake up groggy.  Or drugged.  You  just feel rested—and ready to take on anything.

So, if anyone out there knows of any potential long-term side effects, please let me know.

Or not.