Wednesday, February 13, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream by Barbara Quinn

It’s good to be alive. And it’s good to be able to sleep.

When I was young I could sack out for 12 or 14 hours. Nothing woke me. Fire engines clanged, sirens sounded. I slept anywhere on anything. I still can drop off while waiting at a doctor’s office. And I’ve dozed in the dentist chair while waiting for the X-rays to develop. But more and more often I’m finding steady sleep at night to be an elusive acquaintance.

There are nights when I drop off without a problem only to wake a few hours later. Sometimes it's to heed nature, others to jot down a solution to a writing problem. Some nights I fall back asleep immediately. But then there are nights where it’s 3 am and I'm wide awake. I’ve learned to accept the oddities of my sleep habits. Usually after a couple of sleep deprived nights, my body crashes and I sleep well. I read an article that said that this notion that we need 8 straight hours of sleep is simply that, a notion. When there were fires to tend in the middle of the night, and animals to ward off, who could afford to sleep so long?

I’ve taken over the counter meds like Unisom, and Benadryl (which is the active ingredient in things like Tylenol PM). And I’ve tried Ambien and Ambien CR. I didn’t suffer any side effects, didn’t find myself vacuuming or covered in flour from a middle of the night baking spree. Nor did I sleep-drive. But I don’t like the idea of taking anything for too long. So I tough it out most of the time.

Like everything else, as I’ve aged my sleep has changed. I’m grateful for the peaceful sleep that does descend. And luckily, when it arrives, I still dream great dreams in bright color. Who needs TV?


Nannette Croce said...

One word-iPod (or is that two?)

I went through some terrible sleep problems during menopause compounded with stress. I really do need 8 hours no matter what the researchers say. Any less and I start making mistakes, forgetting things, and over reacting to the smallest problem.

My husband turned me on to the idea of listening to books or lectures on my iPod. Whenever I wake during the night I set the sleep timer for 15 minutes. Works like a charm.

Kathryn Magendie said...

ohhh! Colorized dreams! I have insomnia-like times that come in waves - there will be the sleep, then the waves come and that's the waking sleeping waking sleeping waking sleeping, then I'm back to nights of sleep. I've learned to ride the waves, I suppose!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Being a light sleeper (sometimes a curse!), I know how much good, sound sleep is appreciated. When I get too deprived, a good hour nap in the afternoon does wonders.

Listen to our Podcasts