Sleep does not come easy for me lately.
This has been an ongoing problem for much of my life.
As a child, I battled bedtime, and then fought sleep, as if my very life depended on it.
My sister, Brenda, and I chattered away under the covers through all of our teen years. Dad’s arrival home from his second shift around midnight was the only thing that forced us to stop talking, so we could fall asleep.
During my first pregnancy, my sleep patterns flipped wildly back and forth. The first weeks, I felt like I could sleep twenty-four hours a day. I’d often crawl into an empty bed for a nap during Sunday visits to my parents house. I’d drop off to sleep whenever I was a passenger in a car. I didn’t dare sit down in the middle of a project, or sleep would overtake me while dinner burned or water overflowed the sink.
Then, suddenly, I could hardly sleep at all. For months.
Apartment living prevented me from noisy endeavors like vacuuming or machine sewing, but I’d scrub and wax floors through the night. I patched my husband’s blue jeans by hand, and sometimes embroidered the patches. I crocheted for hours. I played hundreds of games of solitaire. When the alarm went off in the morning, my husband would find me wide awake with coffee waiting. I’d kiss him off to work, then settle in for a nap on the sofa.
There was a time, when my oldest daughter was a baby, that she and I would rendezvous every night at three AM. She’d have a bottle; I’d nibble left-overs from dinner. Together, we’d watch old episodes of Charlie Chan.
Generally, though, having a working husband, children, classes and jobs forced a schedule on me that helped to diminish the problem. I still had the occasional sleepless night, and suffered through the effects of it in the following days, but insomnia did not have the same hold on me.
Now, once again, it does.
Often I can cite too much caffeine, unresolved issues or legitimate worries as the cause.
Some things are within my control, some are not.
It’s hard to shut down a busy mind.
Lately, it’s very hard to fall asleep.
Last night was a perfect example.
I had worked in town, walked the dogs morning and evening, wrote, made dinner and tidied up, worked several hours in the studio, answered a couple letters and went to bed exhausted at eleven o’clock.
And lay there, wide awake.
I try all the regular things: I tense, then relax my muscles one by one, from forehead to toes. I allow every thought to enter my consciousness, then gently release it until my mind is clear. I count backward from one hundred, to keep concerns and worries at bay. I toss. I turn.
I lay there.
At one AM, I turned on the lamp and read a couple chapters.
Could hardly keep my eyes open.
That’s the way it is these days. Though I could vacuum to my heart’s content without anyone complaining, and heaven knows my floors could use a good scrubbing, I don’t have the energy. I wish I could roust myself to at least accomplish the chores that I know I’ll be too tired to tackle the next day, for lack of rest. Awake in the middle of the night, all I want is sleep.
I turned out the light…and sleep would not come.
At three-thirty I came downstairs to let Rosa out.
Tried the sofa…no better for sleep.
Turned on the computer.
I checked the news and e-mail and a social networking site, played two games of on-line scrabble and researched a children’s art project for Cinco de Mayo.
At six AM I went back to the sofa where I slept like a baby for almost two hours.
I’m up for the day now, but without much stamina for the day ahead.
Though a nap sounds lovely, I force myself to resist, so that sleep will be possible tonight.
For now, onward…I’m awake!