You’ve given us weakening bones, hot flashes, failing eyesight and hearing, constipation, dry vaginas, weakened bladders, failing cognitive abilities and slowing metabolisms.
With all the other crap we have to deal with at midlife, did you have to make sleeping so hard?
Would it be too much to ask if all midlife women could simply fall asleep as their heads hit the pillow, stay asleep for six hours at a time (I’m not greedy), and not have our thoughts race about ridiculous stuff that we deal perfectly well with during the day, as we stare at the ceiling at 4AM?
We promise we could deal with all the other crap you’ve given us with dignity and grace…if you would just make sleeping a little easier. Please consider this a request from the masses.
Almost all BA50 Women
Like so many women I know, I am in a constant struggle, and have been for years, to find an easy formula for a good night’s sleep. I have sworn off the miracle sleeping drug Zolpidem for good (maybe, possibly, hopefully), but I have this “on again/off again” relationship with Ativan, the anti anxiety drug that allows me on most nights (not all) to fall asleep, and to go back to sleep after I have woken up to pee.
Right now I am on again.
Because even though during the day I am a cool and rational human being, this is me at 4AM without drugs:
Will the move across the country work out? Will I be able to zipper that dress I am planning to wear to the wedding? Should we sell our home? Will the boat drift off the anchor? Will my cancer come back before I have grandchildren? How will I deal without exercising for weeks while I recover from my next operation? How will I fit in what I need to do tomorrow? Why am I up at 4:00AM? Why did I eat so many salt and vinegar chips? Why am I so weak? Why do I worry all the time? Should I just start my day?
And then at some point when it becomes quite clear sleeping is not in the cards, I get up and start my day, well before dawn.
And this is me at 4AM with Ativan:
I have to pee. I think I’ll pee and go back to sleep. Zzzzzzzzzz….
And one wonders why we get addicted?
There is no doubt, 4:00AM is a beautiful time time of day. The sunrise. The quiet time to get some writing in. The time to cook dinner before breakfast and fold the laundry (not). At 8AM, I am thrilled that I have accomplished so much. By noon, I have worked a few hours, done a few errands and exercised- I’ve had 8 hours of time to be competent.
But more often than not, by 2PM, I am dull, unsettled and short tempered. I am hangry and haven’t missed a meal. And by 6PM, I am a world-class bitch.
I have kicked the sleeping pill “habit” enough to know that it can be done. I have read and incorporated (and then given up on) so many of the strategies in the sleep book Sleep Smarter- 21 Essential Strategies To Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success. I know what to do: Eat clean. Keep the room dark and cool. No TV before bed. No emails before bed. No LED lights from iPads, or iPhones, clocks. Meditate. Practice gratefulness. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Do not fall asleep on the couch at 9PM.
The problem is, a pill is a hell of a lot easier, and more sustainable that this kind of “clean” lifestyle. I like to look at my emails before bed. I like to read on my iPad. I hate meditating. Sometimes I practice gratefulness, but most of the time, I think it’s for wackos. I like to watch TV with a glass of wine, and I love falling asleep on the couch while Mike scratches my head, an hour or two before we head up for bed.
It’s a lifestyle choice, and a good night’s sleep with a pill is just too easy. I can have my wine, and drink it too.
Next week, I’ll probably quit the Ativan cold turkey. I do that every so often to clean out because I know it is not good for me in the long term….but neither is not sleeping. And maybe I won’t have the energy to quit, and honestly, I’m not sure what’s worse. It’s just another midlife struggle I wish I didn’t have to deal with. But it actually helps to know I know I am in very good company.
So if you see me for dinner, and I’m a bitch, you’ll know why. And if I’m not, you can safely assume it was an Ativan night.