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When Falling Asleep Is An Elusive Chore

Laurie asleep

Trouble falling asleep can result in a heavy, sleep-deprived hangover the next day.

By Laurie Stone

Sometimes it can be as easy as lying down. Other times, it’s like trying to get into the most exclusive nightclub. You wait for hours, till finally you’re allowed past those red velvet ropes. You get into Sleep Club. Is it me or has slumber become more complicated in later years? Sleep problems now fall into three specific categories.

Falling Asleep

I can feel a good night’s sleep coming on like I can sense a weather change. I can also feel a bad one. There’s nothing more frustrating than tossing and turning as you watch the clock digits move slowly past midnight, then 1 a.m., and beyond.

Most nights, thank God, sleep doesn’t take too long. Sometimes (depending on how much wine I’ve had), sleep even comes fast.

But then there are other nights. I lie there, adrift and annoyed, staring at the ceiling for hours. I can’t even blame my snoring husband, Randy. Plenty of nights he saws wood, and I sleep like a baby. He’s even accused me of snoring, which, I assure you, is complete poppycock.

I have friends who clean house or pay bills when they can’t sleep. Sometimes, I’ll turn on the bedroom television with closed captions to keep things quiet. And yet, even that doesn’t work. I lie there wondering: Is it possible to be too tired to do anything, but not tired enough to sleep?

Staying Asleep

mother, worrying, hopeful, boys, asleepThen there are times I wake up at early dawn, refreshed and happy. I even have a few hours to cuddle under these warm covers, I tell myself. I’m grateful. That’s when I stretch to look at the clock, expecting to see 6 a.m. Instead, it says 11:17 p.m. I’ve slept half an hour. How did that happen? And why did it feel like so much more? And is that my quota for the night?

Sometimes I try and outwit sleep. When my eyelids feel heavy, I’ll mute the television and just lie there, not quite committing to a full lights-out. This “pre-sleep” works. My body likes the transition. When I finally commit, sleep is waiting.

But other times, once those lights are out, I’m more awake than ever. It’s a cruel joke!

The Wee-Hour Crazies

A few months ago, before falling asleep, I made the mistake of watching a documentary on serial killer Ted Bundy. As the program went over the exhaustive list of women he murdered and I saw his normal face and heard him speak in his regular-guy voice, I saw how on the surface, he seemed harmless. I lasted 20 minutes before turning it off in terror.

That night, I went to bed, pulling the covers up over my nose. I knew this show would catch up with me and sure enough, at 3 a.m., Ted was waiting. He lured women by using crutches and asking for help getting a package into the back of his van? Who’d be dumb enough to fall for that? Oh God, probably me. 

I didn’t sleep the rest of the night and the next day felt that heavy, sleep-deprived hangover.

Now I watch night-time television on a trauma-descending scale — the scarier, grittier fare, like a French Village, a series about the Nazi occupation of France during WWII, is at the beginning of the night. The same goes for Game of Thrones and cable news.

The last thing watched is something funny. I just finished the entire catalog of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Before that was The Office and before that was Veep. Comedies have become my sleeping pill.

A Different Approach

Still, I’ve learned a big lesson about trying to fall asleep in these later years: The more you fight it, the longer it takes. And so, I’ve learned the art of acceptance.

If it’s a bad night, I’ll lie back, thinking, “Okay, I can’t sleep, but I’m snug in my home with my husband and terrier Libby beside me. Libby’s hogging the bed and Randy’s snoring a little too vigorously, but whatever. I’m warm and safe.”

I wait patiently in line for Sleep Club to admit me.

The strangest thing is, next thing I know, many times, I’m waking to the morning light. I got into Sleep Club after all.

Just when I thought those red velvet ropes would never open, they finally did. All I had to do was surrender.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog,”Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

3 Responses to “When Falling Asleep Is An Elusive Chore”

  1. staying asleep. That’s my thing. Can not stay down.

  2. Alana says:

    I have a certain relationship with Sleep Club, too. Sometimes, if I use my smartphone or tablet, I just seem too wound up. I haven’t used TV to lull me to the velvet ropes because we only have one TV, and my spouse goes to bed earlier than I do. He says he stays up late so I can fall asleep without his symphony orchestra (aka his snoring) disturbing me, but I think it is so he can catch up on his political programs that get me upset. And then, he wakes me up if I’m not fully asleep so I have to restart the process anyway.

  3. CBD for Sleep says:

    Sleeping is something that young but mostly old people find hard to do…while on your adulthood you are unable to sleep a lot because of work

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