Everybody’s talking about this new drug called Sleep. Apparently it works miracles.
SLEEP is all over the internet, the news shows, the bookstores, even the pamphlets at the doctor’s office: Get More Sleep! Sleep, they’re telling me, improves cognitive function, mood, alertness, weight control, self-control, parenting, budgeting, career-building, community building, political involvement, spiritual awareness and toll painting skills. (Okay, I made up the last one. But it’s a safe bet.)
The self-help headlines scream at me as if it’s a choice: GET MORE SLEEP!
Get more sleep? Sure. And I’ll just grow another arm while I’m at it.
I’m writing this post at 3:44 a.m. because, according to the “sleep specialists” I’ve seen, my body clock thinks 3:44 a.m. is a proper time to be awake and writing a post. “Your body wants the day to last longer than the normal 16 hrs,” one of the specialists told me. He then told me what I could do about this problem, which was absolutely nothing. Great insight, doc. I’ll write you a thank you note at 3:44 a.m.
I wish I could sleep, well and on my own. But I can’t, so I’ve tried:
Ambien: too strong—wake up not knowing where (or who) I am.
Melatonin: too weak—wake up all night because it doesn’t work.
Unisom: too groggy—wake up feeling like a hungover druggie. Which, if you think about it, is exactly what I am.
I’ve done the whole “bedtime routine” thing, too: shower, cool room, soft light, good book, no phones, no screens, no distractions. (Did you know they call this “sleep hygiene?” Isn’t that gross somehow?)
Whatever they call it, it doesn’t work either. After the whole rigmarole, I close my eyes and immediately start thinking and worrying and second-guessing and guilting. My stomach knots and my heart races and I’m re-living that awful scene in seventh grade when I thought a cute boy was flirting with me but it turned out he was saying hi to the “Jenny” standing just behind me. (True story. Park Middle School Cafeteria. Look it up.)
And yes, people: I’ve even worn the Sleep Mask. Glamorous it is. Works it does not.
In fairness, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot with my insomnia. This post, for starters. (Where would the world be without it?) I’ve also managed, night after sleepless night, to do get some real work done in my head. Such as:
Rename my children (Chloe, Maggie, Drew? Maybe not Drew. But definitely Maggie.)
Redecorate my home (Modern chic meets Cali Boho)
Re-move back to Kennewick (Still miss you, old friend)
Restyle my hair (it’s long and flowing in my un-asleep dreams)
Replace my husband (don’t take it personally hon. It’s just something we sleepless wives do.)
Re-choose my college major (Business or Nursing–less writing, more money)
Re-start my diet (if only I’d had a teeny bit more discipline this last, I don’t know, decade or so…)
Re-read Anna Karenina, State of Wonder, Crossing to Safety, and all one hundred-sixty of my seminary lessons. (I actually did this last one for real. So pathetic.)
Re-vamp my wardrobe (Modern Chic meets Cali Boho.) Wait, that’s my home decor. Whatev–Pinterest is all the same at 4 a.m.
It’s a long and impressive list, I know. But what my insomnia doesn’t allow me is to improve my mood, alertness, weight control, parenting, spiritual whatevertheheck it was and don’t even get me started on my toll painting skills. I’m not functioning at my best, I’m told, because I’m not getting enough sleep.
The solution, I’m told, is to get more sleep.
Get more sleep? Sure, and I’ll type this post twice as fast with that third arm I just grew. (Or would it be thrice as fast? If I got more sleep, I could calculate the answer. Probably while toll painting.)