I think I’ve had insomnia since birth. I can remember being very little and hiding for half the night under my blankets with a flashlight and a book so that I’d have something to do to while away the night time hours. According to my mother she would come check on me at midnight when she was finished all the work she couldn’t get done with three kids underfoot, and find me awake in my crib just staring at the ceiling.
It wasn’t really so much of a problem when I was younger. In college and my twenties I existed pretty efficiently on five hours of sleep a night. I would go to bed at 2AM, get up at 7AM, and pretty much be fine all day.
Now in my thirties it’s a different story, although I still don’t require eight hours of sleep I do need about seven, and since I get up for work at 6:30AM, getting that seven can be really tricky.
Although traditionally I’ve always been a person who doesn’t go to sleep easily, lately I’ve transitioned into a person who doesn’t stay asleep. It’s always been normal for me to get up to pee between 4AM and 6AM, but these days when that happens I go back to bed and instead of returning to sleep I compose short stories or blog posts in my head, or wonder if I’m having chest pains, or worry about my husband/family/kid/job. Could be any number of things. I’m tired, I want to sleep, but my brain decided to go active and wake up. And then I start into the hateful clock spiral which pretty much guarantees that sleep won’t be forthcoming.
The clock spiral is this game insomniacs play with the clock where we count down in our heads how much time we have left to sleep if we go to sleep RIGHT NOW. It goes like this:
“I have to fall asleep, I only have two hours.”
“I have to fall asleep, I only have one hour.”
“I have to fall asleep, I only have… oh – it’s time to get up.”
I stopped actually looking at clocks years ago during the night time, but unfortunately it’s just made me more adept at guessing the passage of time in my head rather than solving the problem.
Last night I went to bed early for me. After a nice two mile walk in the beautiful weather and dinner (portabella, spinach and mozzarella sandwich… yum), I was snuggled in and bugging Ted as he tried to read his book by 11:30PM, I think I fell asleep a little after midnight.
My eyes popped back open at 4:30AM.
After the normal bathroom trip I realized to my dawning dismay that I was awake. Very, very awake.
I also knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I would be exhausted enough to cry like a grouchy newborn by the time I would have to get up in an hour and a half and face an hour’s worth of scary turnpike traffic.
I didn’t get up, I just lay there. A few minutes before 6AM, I finally started to doze back off.
I know it was a few minutes before 6AM, because at that time my husband’s alarm clock went off.
Ted didn’t actually have to get up until 7AM, but he has this thing he does (that he swears helps him face the day more easily) that I call ‘alarm clock tag’. Because he is capable of falling back to sleep in about thirty seconds, he sets the alarm for a time well ahead of when he actually has to rise and just… keeps hitting the snooze button over and over. And over. He will happily play tag like this for an hour at times.
Generally speaking Ted is a wonderful bedmate. He’s warm without being sweaty, smells wonderful, looks adorable and doesn’t snore. I can nudge him into whatever position I’d like him in and curl up as I like around him and he very rarely complains. He in return has to deal with my constant tossing and turning, talking in my sleep, occasionally kneeing him in the groin or elbowing him in the face and flat out waking him up when I can’t sleep and am lonely. With the exception of me going on vacation once without him, I don’t think Ted has actually had a decent night’s sleep in the ten years we’ve been married. He doesn’t grouse about it, but when I point these things out he doesn’t say it isn’t true either.
In general, I have nothing to complain about where sleeping with Ted is concerned… except for his alarm clock tag tendencies.
Since I stand about a snowball’s chance in hell of falling asleep in the eight minutes it takes for the alarm to go off again, I basically lay there during alarm clock tag in a state of exhausted agony, growing slightly drowsy right about the time the thing starts blaring… yet again.
The third time his clock went off this morning at close to 6:30AM I sat bolt upright in bed and snarled: “Why is your BLEEPING alarm going off, you don’t have to get up until seven?!?!”
Except I didn’t say “bleeping”, I said something that would make television network censors very unhappy, not to mention my mother.
I think I startled my poor husband enough to put him off sleep for the remainder of the morning. By the time I dragged my exhausted, sorry self in and out of the shower he had assumed his begrudgingly conscious pose on the edge of the bed. He sits upright on the side and yanks the blankets over his head, making himself resemble a large, upright lump perched there while rocking back and forth quietly. Sometimes he whimpers.
I guess neither of us are exactly what you would call morning people.
How do you get a decent night’s sleep the whole night through? And when you don’t get it, how do you keep yourself from overeating to compensate for the energy deficit that occurs as a result?