A friend asked me one recent morning, “How’d you sleep?” I’m sure I said fine, but the truth of the matter is that for me, “fine” means being awake for less than two hours during the middle of the night and waking up without any emergency.
I bet you think I’m about to go on and on about the trials of having a kid and how nobody every sleeps again, right? Well, I’m not. I do think it’s true that kids rob you of sleep in ways you could never have previously imagined, but the truth is that these days, it’s nothing to do with the kid. I’m just awake a lot.
I wake up and think about what I need to do at work the next day, whether I remembered to send that last email, whether John has clean pants to wear to school, whether there’s any milk in the house, and whether that sound I just heard might have been a bat. (Seriously.) I plot my approach to losing ten pounds, think about what it will be like to be retired, and worry that the world is becoming a more difficult place to live. And wonder if John will lose a tooth (yes!) and like first grade (hopefully). And I still wonder whether that sound was a bat. Sometimes I just get up and read or poke around online — if I’ve ever liked your picture on Facebook at two in the morning this is why.
And that’s just me keeping myself up at night. There are plenty of external factors at play as well. All three males that live in my house sometimes snore. Michael (the giant striped cat) likes to wake me up in the middle of the night by knocking things off tables onto the ground: pens, picture frames, my glasses, etc. (He thinks this might get him a treat, but he is very, very wrong about that.) John’s very good about sleeping at night, but he does have bad dreams and the occasional bloody nose or other emergency. And from time to time I’m right about that bat-ish noise.
Every night I go through that thing that I think we all do: “If I go back to sleep right now, I can still get three more hours. Now two more hours. Now an hour.” Sometimes I’m up for good. Sometimes I go back to sleep. But even then, I generally can’t sleep past 6:30 or 7:00. I’m tired, but awake. Dammit. And before you tell me to drink less or drink more before bed, believe me, I’ve tried both. Drinking more wakes me up for longer at night. Drinking less is just not that fun. Exercise helps, but then I have to exercise. Working on that.
I have been told that as we get older, we sleep less. Which means that I’m on my way to being Al Pacino in that Insomnia movie. I try to remember that it’s actually not so bad to have a quiet still house to myself. But I’d really rather be sleeping. And the next time Michael knocks a book off my bedside table, I might throw it at him.