Sleep

The simplest thing. Something we all do and after so many years of practice I should master it. I don’t. It comes and goes. Different phases of my life, thoughts, work, races, it all weighs in. Right now, I’m in a wake-up early phase. We are not talking 6am, waking up right before the alarm sets off. We are talking 2.30 to 4 something. Prime sleep time. The time of the night when you can hear the coyotes howl and the bobcats sneak around in your back yard. When the house is quiet and the dog snores. Long before the newspaper arrives. I force myself to stay in bed to 4.30. I’m not allowed to check my phone before 4 but the Kindle is ok. I have high standards; everyone knows that the phone is bad karma and a no-no in the bedroom. Well, at least until insomnia hits. Then it’s a lifeline to the outer world. It is great to have a kid to communicate with in Europe. It’s prime time for her and I get to calm my mind. And when I finally allow myself to get up and walk down the coffee tastes so good, news on and the day goes by.

The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.
~ Leonard Cohen

Don’t worry about all the things you can do to make it better. No caffeine in the afternoon, alcohol, very cold and dark room, good bed and nice sheets, exercise… I’m on it. Only complaint is Doris. She is from time to time extremely annoying. Crawling around my feet. She has fur but thinks she is a nude cat. Skin to skin under the down duvet. Her mission is to keep my feet warm. She is the one that wakes me up. But to her defense, she is always asleep after 2am.

It’s kind of funny that this is going on. I’m a snoozer. I love sleep. From time to time I sleep more than enough. I have a hard time getting up in the morning. I take naps during the day. If I run a lot, I take every chance I can to nap. Doris is usually a candidate for heating cold feet during couch naps. And who can resist that? And now I can’t even nap.

I remember the worst time I went through a phase like this. 18 years ago, 3 kids under the age of 4, went back to school for a second master’s and gave myself a year to finish it. Renovated a house. Exhausted. Woke up every night with three kids around me or in a very small bed counting sheep, minutes, breaths. Kids with asthma. And its endless when you are in the middle of it. And then one day everything is back to normal and sleep is the last thing you must worry about. And you kind of forget about no sleep and tired days.

When you google sleep it’s easy to get a tad bit worried. If you don’t sleep, your brain and your body don’t rest and recoup. Scary stuff. But according to a very serious webpage there is hope. Or a stroke. Since my brain is not getting enough rest, I have a hard time understanding the information about the neurotransmitters and the risk of stroke if you don’t get enough sleep. I turn to WebMD instead, the Bible of real home medicine. And – drumroll – get supplements. It’s not going to happen. My brain and I are going to wait it out. Count sheep, think of life decisions, overthink race scenarios and look forward to the first cup of coffee every day.

“A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless…”
~ William Wordsworth