Friday, July 1, 2011

Parker the cat who knows the value of an afternoon nap.
The sun rises awfully early on summer mornings and though I don't have to rise with it, I often do. Sleep has become an evasive commodity lately (lately being the past ten years or so). At first I blamed my semi-insomnia on worries - you know, the ones about money and children and things you wish you hadn't said or done that loom like monsters in the deep, dark night. But, I have a job, my grown children all have jobs, we all have places to live and food to eat. And worrying about those things no matter what time of day or night never did present a solution. Now I blame my ever increasing age. I am older now than I've ever been and I can see signs of deterioration. It's the ones I can't see that seem to be causing the trouble.

Books and magazines offer solutions to what seems to be a global affliction. One can go the drug route complete with little flapping butterflies hovering over one's prostrate body, the health conscious route that advises a light evening meal and a brisk walk afterwards, or the natural route which involves chamomile baths and spraying one's bed linens with lavender. I avoid drugs whenever possible and prefer my butterflies out of doors so I tried first the healthy route. Summer evenings are fine for an after dinner stroll around the neighborhood but winter nights fall fast and early. A brisk walk to the end of the driveway involved hat and coat and boots and mittens. Just dressing and undressing made me tired and I'd tumble into bed earlier and earlier each night. My ability to stay asleep did not increase, however, and I would find myself awake and semi-alert well before dawn. By mid-morning I was desperate for a nap!

Lavender on my bed linens smells heavenly but does not put me to sleep. Chamomile baths are out of the question as my tiny cottage has no room for a tub, but chamomile tea does not put me to sleep either. Nor does warm milk, a small glass of wine, or gentle yoga just before bedtime. I've tried reading in bed, counting sheep (and blessings), and meditation, none of which make me fall asleep more readily or stay asleep once I've nodded off. I'm beginning to suspect that the folks who come up with these remedies stay up all night thinking about them.

My latest tactic is to enjoy the pre-dawn hours, to rise slowly, make a cup of steaming tea, sit where I can watch the sun rise or the rain fall, and breathe in the new day as it unfolds. When I wind down around three in the afternoon, I take a nap. So far, that's working just fine.


Tabor said...

You have come to the exact same conclusion as I. I awake early and sometimes take the restorative nap. Other times I drag through several days before I finally start getting a few long nights of sleep. I always think about how hard Michael Jackson pursued his desire for sleep until finally he got his wish.

Pauline said...

yeesh! I don't wish for sleep that much! Poor MJ.

Molly said...

I like your three o'clock-in-the-afternoon nap idea.........I'm always dropping with tiredness by the time bed time rolls around. Hmmmmm. This might be the answer.

Friko said...

A late reply, but I hope you'll find it anyway.

So, another insomniac. There are many of us. For me the route is the opposite to yours:

I go to bed very late, read even later and still can't get off. I am often wide awake until 3 or 4 in the morning, then fall into a fitful sleep and awake (if it can be called that) with gritty eyes and feeling exhausted.

I've tried everything. All that is left is not to worry about it, as I don't have a job anymore I might as well drag myself through the day half comatose.

Unless I take sleeping pills, which I do when I have to be awake the next day.

Pearl said...

I am an insomniac as well -- a recent development -- and I, too, blame aging.

You've tried melatonin? That helps me.


Pauline said...

Friko - I've had many nights like that interspersed with nights of sleep. If i don't have to work, I nap early. Otherwise i fall asleep for two hours on the sofa as soon as I get home!

Pearl - it had the opposite effect on me, making me jumpy beyond belief. I can't take sleeping pills for the same reason.

Pam said...

Hi Pauline - I had this problem once and tried everything also, but boring radio programs did the trick eventually - particulary talk-back radio in the teeny tiny hours of the morning. Lying in my bed wide-eyed I'd gradually drift off thinking " the only people listening to this drivel, or ringing up, are insomniacs". Of course I MYSELF was not one...and the same people night after night!... morning after morning -every evening for weeks on end! "Must be awful for them not to be able to sleep" I'd think to myself, staring up at the ceiling.
Someone droning on I think is the answer.
The exact time I conquered my insomnia, my husband started snoring.*sigh*-back to the radio ear-beads, the old familiars, and blessed sleep!

Pauline said...

I remember trying something similar, Pam, when sleeplessness first hit years ago. I've found, however, that any noise - radio, fan, neighbors' music or TV - keeps me wide-eyed and annoyed. Back to the drawing board! Thanks for coming by to read and comment :)