I had a really tough time waking up this morning. I was in a deep, deep sleep and when the alarm went off it took a while for it to actually register with me. I was totally disoriented. Didn’t know where I was; and the last thing I wanted to do was open my eyes and get out of bed.
So it seemed like a good idea to respond to this recent WordPress Daily Prompt: “What kind of sleeper are you? Do you drop off like a stone and awaken refreshed, or do you need pitch black and silence to drift off to dream?”
My aunt needed pitch black. She’d pull down her shades, then close her drapes (which were double lined so no light could shine through) and then she’d put on a sleep mask. I tried the mask once. It gave me an extreme case of claustrophobia. She also needed absolute quiet.
But let me tell you, when she fell asleep the house could have fallen down around her and she wouldn’t have known. Me? When I was young I slept like a log. I went to bed rather late, but I fell asleep the instant my head touched the pillow. And, like my aunt, I heard absolutely nothing once I was asleep. It’s like I’d been transported to never never land. An earthquake wouldn’t have woken me up.
It was so bad I was always paranoid about not hearing my alarm. So I always bought the clocks with the loudest, shrillest, most jarring alarm sounds available. And I’d always set it ahead of when I really wanted to get up, by about 20 minutes. That way I could wake up slowly and dawdle a while. I’m not someone who likes to rush in the morning. And I’d also always set it so it rang again 10 minutes later. Just in case.
Whenever I had meetings or presentations to go to. I’d always ask either one of my parents, or a friend, to call and make sure I’d gotten up. And whenever I travelled I’d always ask the limo company I used to drive me to the airport, to call me as well.
The one place I could never sleep was on a plane. Not because of nerves, just because it’s not comfortable enough for me. I sleep on my stomach –not possible when you’re sitting in a seat. And the pillows are too small and hard. But that changed when I went to India. Because of an incredible deal made possible by my travel agent, we flew business class. We got pods — seats that turned into flat beds — which were surprisingly comfortable. Especially once a feather mattress was laid on top and you were given a comfy pillow and a duvet. They also gave us pyjamas when we boarded. And when I was ready for bed, I changed into them. I figured psychologically it would ‘put me in the mood’ — make bedtime ‘official’, in other words.
No one was more pleasantly surprised than I was when I woke up 7 hours later.
As I’ve gotten older, enjoying a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep is not a given. Sometimes it takes me a long time to fall asleep, no matter how late I go to bed — or how tired I am. Too much activity in my brain, I guess. When I write not long before I turn in for the night, sleep is almost impossible. I’m still writing in my head (and twitching). So I now know I should shut down my computer at 9 p.m. latest.
Do I do it? Not always. My bad.
Same thing happens if I’ve watched a movie or a TV show with a very ‘busy’ plot. All kinds of twists and turns and unexpected goings-on. That really messes with my ability to quiet my brain and fall asleep. It obviously triggers the writer in me. When this happens I do try meditating. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on how worked up I am.
Another issue is not sleeping through the night. I seem to go through cycles. For 3 or 4 days in a row I sometimes wake up between 3 and 4 a.m. That just drives me insane. It takes hours to fall asleep again and sometimes I just can’t. I get so frustrated and pissed off I can’t relax enough to doze off. I just toss and turn and toss and turn and toss and turn. Pound my pillow. And swear a lot. I know it’s one of the side effects of menopause, so who knows? I’ve had none of the other ones, so I tend to think these sleep interruptions aren’t either. Probably just a mind that’s too busy.
No, I’ve never taken a sleep aid. I don’t like the feeling of being ‘drugged’. And truly, it’s not severe enough. It’s not like it happens all the time. Months and months can go by without a problem. What I do find is, I can sleep later in the morning now. When I was a kid, and into my 20s, I could sleep the day away. Weekends were sacrosanct. Everyone knew not to even think about waking me up before noon. Then I seemed to go through a phase where I was waking up early. Now, though, if I let myself, I’d sleep ’til noon again. I do it very rarely, on the weekend, for a treat. But that’s it.
But I do have a new, favourite thing to do: Take an afternoon nap. Again, this is an occasional treat. I don’t change into my jammies or anything. I just lay down on the sofa, or on my bed, and let myself drift off for a half hour or an hour. It’s rarely longer than that. I think it’s a lovely indulgence. A luxury, if you will. And something I never think of doing in the summer. It’s strictly a winter thing for me.
Several people, including my mother, have told me the older you get the less sleep you need. I’ll let you know …