For as long as I can remember, I’ve had problems with sleep. When I was a teenager, it was mostly self inflicted: I’d stay up till the wee hours of the morning curled into my bed with a book or my journal and whatever light source I’d managed to scrounge up. At the time, I probably found it strange that my mother would walk past my room on the way to the bathroom at 3am, although now at 40, I know that’s not such an anomaly.
Then in my twenties I had babies. Lots and lots of babies. Okay, five, but that’s lots by today’s standards. So of course there was a decade where I didn’t sleep through the night. Babies need to be up and fed and changed throughout the night, and then toddlers frequently need you to calm them or to put them back to bed after they wake at 4am and decide that *this* is a fine time for jumping up and down on the mattress. Small kids need consolation from nightmares and one more glass of water and to please take them to the baffroom because it’s dark and scary in the hall.
By the time kids were in full time school, I was writing and often nights were the only times I had peace and quiet, so I stayed up and wrote. Or read.
In my thirties I found it hard to get to sleep before midnight on a good night, two or three am on a bad one. Not at all on the really, really hard nights. Even working full time, raising the kids and being a full time wife, sleep still was not my best friend. Making it worse, or perhaps enabling me, was the invention of Facebook. Now I had hundreds of friends in Canada, the States and at the time, Egypt, and I had all those wonderful time zones in which to talk to people online that were not in the middle of their night yet as I was. Some friends I talked to almost exclusively after midnight.
Last year I threw my back out really badly. It took four, almost five months for it to be back to some semblance of normal but at the time, sleeping was painful. My chiropractor told me to get a pillow for between my legs, much as I did while pregnant, to relieve some of the pressure from my spine. I still have that pillow because event though I’m not crying when I shift (I’m a travel-sleeper), or needing to get up, sit up, and then turn over, my back still aches when I sleep on it and I wake frequently to shift to my other side and carefully take my pillow with me. Frequent bathroom trips also punctuate any sleep I get.
The irony is these days, I’m actually really tired after these long nights. Where just three short years ago I thought nothing of staying up with friends gabbing and laughing until 4 or 5am on a weekend, or typing at my keyboard until 2:30, deep in conversation with a friend, nowadays I really DO just want to go to bed at 10pm and sleep until morning. And yet, years of abuse on my nocturnal systems denies me.
Last night was great. I signed off a conversation with a Facebook buddy of mine, finished texting my daughter in Ontario, had a wonderfully un-rushed shower, washed my face with my favourite smelling scrub, shaved my legs, painted my nails, rolled my hair. Oohh!! Bliss to have some time to myself for pampering. I climbed into bed and spent a few minutes watching some Graham Norton on YouTube (I LOVE him. Hilarious) and then snuggled in for sleep.
Which I had. For a few hours. And then I woke up. Bathroom.
Another hour of sleep.
Up. I had rolled onto my back and now it was hurting (it’s a problem, I wish I could sleep painlessly on my back again. This happens at least once or twice a night, though). Shifting onto my side and tucking my pillow I lay back down.
I’m wide the F awake.
I slept a bit more and then woke again. Already I can see the sky is juuuuuust starting to lighten. Well crap. Now it’s getting close to morning and my alarm.
I lay on my other side but NOW my brain is awake. So, it’s a full hour and a bit of letting my insane thoughts whirl and swirl the way they do and not trying to calm it, just letting my head get its crazy out now so that I can be sane for work. In my head I plan what I’ll wear. I realize I’ll be up with enough time for eyeliner and lipstick today so I smile.
A good 20 minutes before my alarm is due to go off, I get up, turn it off and go to the bathroom. Might as well be up now. I can take my time eating breakfast.
I’m going to try again tonight. Who knows?? I *may* even get six hours uninterrupted!!
Well, I can dream, can’t I?