I have lived a thousand lives
Book Review: Sun Warrior

I Do Not Sleep at Night

I do not sleep at night

I do not sleep at night. I toss. I turn. Sometimes, I dream and feel as if I am still in the dream when I awake.

Sleep was elusive to me, when I was much younger. During those formative years - the ones my children went through, not mine. I remember being awake for weeks at a time. There were cat naps grabbed here and there, when I could lie down in peace and ignore the outside world. Few and far between, when my middle child was small. I joke that she didn't sleep through the night until she was eight. It's not a joke. During those eight years, I had another child, my son, who was an easier baby and toddler, in some ways, but ever more demanding in others. 

Once the children were sleeping through the night, and I learned to manage my time more effectively, I gradually began sleeping better. Days were filled with volunteering at school, cleaning, shopping, cooking, and caring for the children. It was a good time. I enjoyed all of that as a stay at home Mom, and it helped me sleep at night.

But, somehow, the years fell away, there was a divorce, various jobs, and finally finding myself enough to delve into entrepreneurship. Sleepless nights during all of that were from stress. Everyone goes through that. And comes out well on the other end. As I did.

Retired to not from

I'm sort of retired now. And, the not sleeping at night is not a part of "old age", no matter what people like to say. We folks who are fully into adulthood (and even some who are not, understanding that not all of us want to be adults at all, ever) are not more likely to endure sleepless nights than are any other so called adults. I laugh when I read that in the news or hear it on TV from some pundit or another. Seriously - just because you passed a certain number on the birth chart does not dictate your sleep patterns. 

And me? What about my sleepless nights? You care because you, too, seem to sleep less these days, despite the EFFORT put into sleeping; the proper bed and mattress, the proper/adequate blankets or not; the white noise to drown out your tinnitus, the closing the light at a decent hour. You wake every hour and look at the clock and sigh or moan. You turn over and close your eyes and will sleep to come. Sometimes you fall back to sleep but you seldom stay asleep.

Scientific studies say we need 8 full hours of sleep. Most of us. Some of us make do with six. I've 'heard' there are the sleepless elite who survive on less than six, but I think that's urban myth. Myself, I need ten. In each twenty-four hour period, I need ten. That means, at least eight during the night, and two during the day. I have been a fan of afternoon naps since I was a teenager. I used to think I napped because I was avoiding things - like other people - but I have since come to realize my body KNEW I needed those extra hours of sleep.

As I contemplate the whole not sleeping at night issue, I am reminded that each of us, as individuals, needs to be listening to our own body - deep within who we are, a voice will tell us how active we need to be, and what we should be eating as well as drinking, and how much we need to sleep. It's a wrong assumption to believe we are in charge of anything we do, we puny humans. Our cells conspire against us! Our cells share information between themselves - whispering behind our backs! 

I jest.

Not really. It's true. Our bodies are made up of so many different kinds of cells, the idea that they speak to each other may seem to come from some 1950's science fiction novel, but it doesn't. It's true. Our cells do communicate with each other. They must! How else would the human body operate effectively? If you stop to consider the reality of your body and all of its many varying kinds of cells, it's not hard to understand that if we but listen to our body as it talks to us, we would be healthier human beings.

When your stomach is empty, it tells you to eat. It even tells you what to eat, if you pay attention. Me, I can't eat milk products and regardless of what pills I take to counteract this inability to digest milk, I pay for every bite of ice cream I eat, when I eat it.

When your body has been sitting in that chair, in front of that TV or that computer, for long enough, it begs you to get up and get moving. The kind of movement is up to you but just walking to the refrigerator to get a beer is not enough. I'm lucky. I have a dog. You know what that means.

When you have put in a full day, at work or home or wherever it is you are, your body nudges you to go to bed. It asks you not to watch the news on your TV in your bedroom, even though you do. It wants you to lie down in a quiet dark room and breath deeply, relax, allow sleep to come. 

I am in a war with my body. I do not sleep at night - despite my body's best efforts to help me do so. I drift off and I am comfortable in my nightclothes, in my bed, under my covers, with my pillow, but somehow, two hours later, I will wake up. I will peek at the clock because my heart wants it to say 6:00 a.m. which is near to rising time, in which case I can sigh and snuggle back down for half an hour. When the clock beams 2:00 a.m. at me, it makes me panic. 

I know it will be another two hours before I fall back asleep, and then I'll only sleep for an hour because I'm worried I won't wake up at the appointed time (have never used an alarm clock), and so on and so on, until it's time to actually get up and I sigh as I slide my legs over the side of the bed. 

Somewhere, in the recesses of my memory, the dream I had during that fitful sleep tries to come forward. It's not a logical dream. It's some fantastic thing born of whatever I was reading before I fell asleep the night before, combined with any worries I have about life, family, work, and some of the TV news thrown in. If I could but remember the dream, I'd share it. It might make for amusing conversation. 

But I never remember it.

I only remember that I do not sleep at night. And I am getting tired of it all!

Remedies are welcome. What do you do when you can't sleep at night? 

Things that dreams are made of

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