2017-08-02 / Columns

Spending the night watching the clock and waiting for sleep to come

SALLY’S WORLD
SALLY FRIEDMAN

It was going to be one of those nights.

I’d been to my book group, so my mind was whirling with lingering ideas and interpretations we’d discussed.

I’d been careful, of course, to drink decaf coffee, and to avoid a sugar high by eating only one slice—well, maybe one and half slices—of the delicious coffee cake our hostess served.

But there I was at 1 a.m., feeling a bit too wired to settle into anything approaching slumber. So of course I began reviewing everything that was wrong in my life, in the lives of those I love, in the country and in the world. That was good for some truly sleepless tossing.

Had we picked the totally wrong vacation destination? What were we thinking?

Would the little leak in the kitchen sink turn into a geyser?

Would the daughter get that promotion that she so deserved?

And would Carly’s soccer team win the championship?

“Stop worrying!” my mind told my body. “Think happy thoughts.”

And for the life of me, I couldn’t. What came cascading were the very thoughts I could pack away during daylight hours, but that danced around me like demons in the night.

Finally, I turned on the bedside lamp. It didn’t even make my sleeping husband stir. This is the same man who has missed perhaps three nights of sleep in our entire five-plus decade married life.

On went the bedroom TV.

CNN was continuing its rata tat endless analysis of the sad state of the country and the world. Hardly a lullaby.

I checked the clock. A whole hour had slipped by and there I was, not an inch closer to sleep.

I switched from channel to channel, pausing at the home shopping channel to learn about a skin care product that would change my life forever and about clothes hangers that would do the same for my closets.

I actually considered phoning in for a bracelet studded with turquoise that the presenters of the moment promised would make my friends gasp, until I realized that I actually don’t even like turquoise.

By now, of course, hunger was gnawing. So I tiptoed into the kitchen, the one room in the house where I truly didn’t want to be at—could it be—3:25 a.m.?

I ransacked the shelves of the pantry, grazing on crackers, then adding peanut butter to the crackers, then spreading some strawberry jelly over the bumpy surface.

Then it was on to the pretzels, and finally, the cake straight from the freezer. “Don’t do this!” my inner voice was scolding. I ignored it.

By now, my mind was racing ahead to the morning, crouching there like a tiger waiting to pounce. I began frantically calculating the sleep time I could possibly salvage. I was deep into how miserable the day was going to be without sleep.

The mind of a woman in the throes of insomnia is not a lovely place to visit.

But I eventually went back to bed and forced myself to lie there. Somehow, somewhere along the time line, I fell asleep. Deeply. That weird kind of sleep that feels like a coma.

The alarm clock had tantrums trying to wake me, going from the normal buzz to the insistent alarm. I wanted to smash it to smithereens.

The miracle: After a shower and strong coffee, I actually functioned. The crash came in the late afternoon, when I could easily have fallen asleep standing up. And that night I made it just past 8:30, when, in the middle of a mindless TV show, I dropped off the precipice of consciousness.

Happily, I slept like that proverbial baby.

Another case—and a welcome one—of body over mind!

 pinegander@aol.com

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