Sleep

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I fought sleep for many years…and then it started to fight me. As a child, I hated to go to bed. I’d creep down the stairs to beg for “just a little bit longer.” If that didn’t work, I had a whole string of ailments or emergencies I’d try, from needing a glass of water, to all kinds of physical maladies, to outright lies. “I forgot to do my homework,” was a chancy one that was only used as a desperate measure. Was the trouble I’d be in for forgetting my homework worth the few extra minutes I’d gain, at the kitchen table, pretending to do class work? I once tried selling my mother on the idea that “really! I promise! Sister Michael told us we had to watch Bonanza tonight!” That didn’t go over well, either.

Forced to stay in bed, my sister and I would whisper for hours. Or, with a flashlight, read or play games under the covers. Most board games and playing cards weren’t bad, but when we got hooked on Chinese checkers, we had to learn to be very stealthy. When my father came home, around midnight, from his second shift at the factory, it was too much. He had good hearing, and very little patience for his children being up late on a weeknight. He never came upstairs, but a sharp tone when he told us to “settle down up there,” would send us scurrying under the covers.

As a young adult, I was often unable to sleep, but it didn’t bother me. For one thing, I could get by on much less than the recommended eight hours. For another, nights were often extremely productive times for me. When my daughters were tucked into their beds, and my husband was asleep, I’d scrub floors, start craft projects, bake, paint, rearrange the furniture…I’d find ambition and inspiration in the midnight hours that was often missing in the daytime.

Then, the tables turned. My circumstances changed. I really needed my sleep, and a regular schedule was necessary. School-aged children, jobs, and college classes demanded my alert presence during the day. I could no longer function well on little or no sleep. Yet, often, I could not fall asleep. I spent too many nights watching the clock, willing myself to fall asleep, and calculating how much rest I’d get if I fell asleep instantly. If I gave up and got out of bed, there were none of the productive nights I’d managed when I was younger. The extent of my ambition was a marathon session of solitaire, a good book, or maybe a raid of the refrigerator. All the while knowing I’d be too tired to get anything accomplished the next day.

My insomnia went on, relentlessly, for so many years, I thought I’d never get it under control. The remedy came to me through a back door, in a way. I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and started getting up at an early hour. Every day. Having always thought of myself as a night owl, I was amazed at how quickly I adapted. I’m surprised at how much I’ve grown to love my mornings. And, after only a few weeks, how ready for sleep I was at a reasonable hour. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that I can drop off to sleep without a battle! Now and then, a bright moon or a troubling worry might keep me from sleep. It happens rarely, though. Mostly, it seems that I’ve finally managed to make peace with bedtime.

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

6 responses »

  1. Cindy, I have several friends who cannot sleep through the night. I am one of the lucky ones who decide it’s time to sleep, turn off the light and then almost instantly fall asleep and stay asleep for the next eight hours. My late husband, (DYS) used to say that if they gave medals for sleeping I would win a gold. I can fall asleep in cars, on buses and in planes. I am fighting sleep right now as I write this response. I am glad you have sorted out the problems andnow have sleep under control.

    • Oh, yes, you are lucky indeed to be able to fall asleep easily. It’s a big relief to me to now, finally, have it under control! Thank you for reading, Judith, and for your comments!

  2. That’s a long struggle. I used to be able to stay up all night and function all day too…but that was a lot of years ago. Now I’m up early because of the dog (she likes to wander the front yard looking for a good pee spot by 4:30 a.m.) and I too have learned to enjoy the peaceful quiet mornings. Even after she’s gone I’ll probably be up early.

    • Yes! I think what I enjoy about the early morning hours are the same things I liked about late night hours: there is a quiet and mystery when the sun is not out, and most of the world is still asleep. Thank you for reading, Dawn, and for your comments!

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