Drifting in and out of sleep — mostly out

Insomnia is one of the gifts that nature frequently bestows on women over 50. Unfortunately, it’s a gift you can’t return.

Sometimes, if I wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep for an hour, I go ahead and get up at 4 a.m. I’ve always been an early morning person, so it’s not a big deal. The only problem is that I am ready for mid-morning coffee by 7 a.m. and lunch by 10 a.m.

Insomnia isn’t all bad—it sharpens your mental math skills. You lie there wide awake thinking, “If it’s 2 o’clock now and I fall asleep at 3 o’clock and I get up at 6 o’clock, that’s three hours sleep which is one more hour than last night, and on and on. The possibilities are enough to keep you up all night.

The husband has had trouble with sleep, too. He has noted that, on occasion, it has taken him five, maybe six minutes to fall asleep. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone like that.

Plus, once he is asleep, there’s no waking him. I could roll the man out of the bed and onto the floor and he’d not only sleep soundly, but wake up refreshed and not even notice he was on the floor.

A friend suggested that a sound machine can help with insomnia. I asked if she meant the sound machines some of the grandbabies have—the ones with two settings, one that sounds like a heartbeat signaling a pending panic attack, and white noise that sounds like a radio station out of range.

She said no, that they have sound machines for adults, which come with multiple options.

The babbling brook, with water gurgling as it rolls over rocks, was pleasant and restful but it made me want to get up and go hiking.

The sound of rain falling on the roof was relaxing, too, but I kept springing from bed to make sure all the windows were closed.

The sound of thunder was disturbing. It was so realistic I kept listening for warning sirens signaling tornadoes were on the way.

I finally settled on ocean waves. It was wonderful, soothing and calming. I visualized the coastline with the surf lapping at my feet, deep blue skies and boats dotting the horizon. Next thing I knew I was at the computer at 1 a.m. planning a vacation to the coast.

I ditched the sound machine and I’m sleeping better now, thank you.

The key was to hide the digital clock that glows in the dark and to put my cell phone out of reach. If I want to know what time it is so I can start calculating how much sleep I’m not getting, I have to get out of bed to check the time.

Truthfully, I don’t know how much sleep I’m getting, but I wake up more rested not knowing how much sleep I didn’t get. The “keeping myself in the dark” system seems to be working most days.

Except for today.

Today, I’ll be having lunch at 10.

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