I’ve dreamed about becoming a good sleeper, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Slumber has been a challenge as long as I can remember, although I do have a friend whose last name is Sandman. For many, the Land of Nod (first used by Jonathan Swift in his 1737 Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation) evokes a feeling of pleasant drowsiness. I tend to think of it as the place to which Cain was exiled after killing his brother. (See Genesis 4:16.) I rarely get more than five to six hours. Sleeping “in” means waking up at 7 a.m. Sometimes I drop off at a reasonable hour, but can’t stay asleep. I’m lucky if I get 20 winks.
As a kid I was always the last one to nod off at sleepovers. I used the wee hours in my teen years to teach myself to cook. In hotels on family vacations I had to stake out a spot near a window for some light to read by while waiting for everyone to get up.
When my kids were infants I was told repeatedly to “sleep while they sleep,” that is, nap when the kids do. This always struck me as nonsense. How was I supposed to have a life, read or make phone calls? In fact, though I was tired, I didn’t have the urge to sleep when they did. Who naps during the day? Babies and old folks.
I once had a sleep study done. Not only did they not find anything, I felt very self-conscious sleeping on display.
Yes, I yawn a lot. On rare occasions I will take a sedative, but that’s usually after a real snooze drought – several days with only a few hours. There are times when I finally fall asleep and then have disturbing dreams. I wonder, does that constitute rest?
The Mayo Clinic has suggestions for dealing with insomnia. They include: keeping a sleep schedule; exercising; limiting naps; avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine; taking a warm bath; maintaining a comfortable temperature in the bedroom; keeping TV and computers out of the bedroom; and not eating large meals before bed. Been there, done ‘em all.
I try to accept my fate as a confirmed insomniac by considering the benefits. There’s more time to read and hang out with the cat. I have become an expert tip-toer. There have been dazzling sunrises. Every so often there’s something really good on TV at 3 a.m. I have the first look at the newspaper. Sometimes I just get a lot of stuff done.
As happens with many aspects of life, the conventional wisdom doesn’t apply, and the experts aren’t helpful. On the other hand, perhaps I should pick up a copy of SLEEP, the official publication of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC. A recent issue featured an article entitled “Evaluation of a Noninvasive Algorithm for Differentiation of Obstructive and Central Hypopneas.” Reading that just might put me to sleep.