Thursday, 19 June 2008

From the Halcyon Haze of Insomnia!

My name is Dawn and I have a chronic sleeping problem! (A chorus of voices yell compassionately: "Hello Dawn!!")

There was a time in my youth when I enjoyed the luxurious pleasure of sleeping late on mornings off. It used to drive my mother to distraction, that I could sleep half the day away, while she had basically done the work of several women. I recall her telling one of my synagogue bosses to hold the line while she woke me from one such beautiful sleep, and that she should not feel responsible for waking me because I had "slept for long enough!!" Those days are a distant memory.

As career, marriage and motherhood changed all of my priorities, sleeping was a luxury that I could no longer afford. Every parent will attest to the fact that they sleep with one eye and ear open, waiting for the inevitability of a child tumbling off of the top bunk. As they aged, I began to marvel at the depth and length of my sons' sleeping patterns, so much so that it became readily apparent to me that I needed to be awake almost 24/7 because if, God forbid, the house would catch on fire, I would be the only person to hear the smoke detectors and save the entire family from certain destruction. By the time they were old enough to rouse themselves, my sleeping days were a thing of the past.

It is a truly unique night when I sleep for more than four hours, and it is getting worse. Age and hormonal changes have made any sort of REM sleep almost impossible. If I do manage to fall asleep at a decent hour, I wake several times a night. I have tried every possible sleep recipe imaginable, short of chemical intervention. (I truly fear chemical intervention for obvious reasons.) Warm milk really sucks when you are lactose intolerant. Counting sheep or other forms of animal husbandry gets old when you are into 6 digits. I have tried soft music and meditative recordings. (I am not the "ohm" type"!) A massage works sometimes, but I need someone who doesn't complain about sore hands. Hot baths and showers just mean that I end up in bed with wet hair. I don't drink, smoke or other forms of entertainment that might keep me awake. I like white noise and the TV often helps. Because, the husband and I are incompatible about light and noise, he purchased a funky gizmo that allows me to watch TV through a set of Star Trek-like set of goggles, while allowing him to sleep. The goggles let me view the TV through the satellite receiver and see the picture as though I were watching on a 50 inch screen. Cool? Sure, but only mildly effective. Even though it sometimes induces sleep, it doesn't keep me asleep. I have been known to prattle around the house at odd hours looking for diversions. There is nothing worse than lying in bed and watching the clock change hour by miserable hour. I have cleaned at 2 in the morning and baked at 4. I am often on the computer playing word games at 3 am and I have no trouble finding willing partners. (All of you night owls--I see you!!) I have rehearsed Kol Nidre at strange times and I have made travel lists. I am strangely productive when I haven't slept. I can do all of this and still rise at 7:30 am to get everybody ready and off for their days. The trouble comes later.

You see, most people in my world are dayworkers. Too many days like this consecutively restricts my daytime productivity. I can't work out, because my body yells, "What are you nuts? We haven't slept!!!" Sleep deprivation leads to poor eating habits. Personally I crave carbs and chocolate when I am tired, but that can't be all bad. I can't concentrate on normal conversations and I often forget with whom I am talking. Today, I called my workplace to ask a co-worker to repeat a conversation that we had had no more than an hour before. She thought I was nuts! Not nuts, just sleep-deprived. I start seeing things in slow motion, like a bad rerun of the Bionic Woman. Voices start sounding like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons. By the middle of the afternoon, I am passed out somewhere in the house. I curse the telephone and the doorbell. People who just require simple answers, often get a hideous growl. The worst part of all of this is that I know it will not get any better any time soon. I haven't even entered the joyful world of peri-menopause, yet I can't sleep!!! I want to be a daytime person again. Please help me!!! It should be easier than this!

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