I am a middle aged woman.
Therefore, I do not sleep.
This is a very well known, but much hated, fact. Middle aged women are awake when all the world is wrapped in blissful slumber.
We. Simply. Do. Not. Sleep.
And for the most part (at least according to the women that I know) we have no idea what is keeping us awake.
We finish dinner, clean things up, maybe do some laundry or correct some math papers. We make lunch for tomorrow, check our email, and fall into bed after yawning so hard that we are pretty sure we have cracked our jaws.
And we sleep. Deeply and blissfully, we sleep. Until somewhere between 2 and 3 AM when something suddenly pokes us in the ribs with an icy finger and yells “FIRE!” Then we jolt upright, check for smoke/fire/alarms/crying babies and take our respective pulses. Then we get a cold drink of water, go to the bathroom, pat the dogs, and head back into bed.
Where our adrenaline soaked bodies lie rigid, and wait breathlessly for the dawn.
I have been trying to get to the bottom of my sleeplessness for a few years now. I have tried drinking more water, drinking less water, leaving the window open, leaving the window closed, taking St. John’s Wort, taking melatonin, drinking “Sleepytime Extra”, drinking honey bourbon, meditating, listening to music, rubbing on lavender oil, rubbing on Aspercreme and listening to “Hey Jude”. So far, nothing has worked.
Sometimes I think that I am just anxious about life in general, but then I have a supremely alert two or three nights when I realize that the biggest problem in my mind is whether I should make ravioli or ziti for Sunday dinner.
So what the hell is going on here?
Last night I fell asleep thinking about how cool it is that my son Matt will be hiking on the Appalachian Trail for a month. This is a big family dream, yearned for by his father and his siblings for as long as I can remember. I fell asleep enthralled with the idea of him achieving this wonderful dream.
And at 3 AM, on the dot, I woke up to the terrifying thought that “A BEAR IS GOING TO EAT MY BABY!” My heart was pounding, my head ached and I was in full out “fight or flight” mode. Never mind the fact that I know that black bears don’t eat big men. Never mind the knowledge that black bears won’t even be wandering around a place that will be filled with hikers. Never mind that all 6 foot 3 inches of Matt would be too smart to lie still while being munched on by a bear.
Nope: logic had no power.
It was the witching hour. And I was petrified.
Sometimes I am kept awake by the realization that “OH, DEAR GOD. I don’t have a decent homework plan for tomorrow.!!!!!!” Or I toss and turn because “SHIT!!! MY DOG HAS A BROKEN TOENAIL!” Or, “The Bruins are going to lose.” Or, “I’m not real sure how to braise those lamb shanks.”
I am absolutely NOT making this up. Sometimes I lie awake at night and worry about the shape of my eyebrows.
I am nuts. But I am not alone.
I’ve written about this subject before now. But I am reminded once again of my theory about insomnia in women.
If we could ONLY figure out a way to harness our combined adrenaline fueled middle-of-the-night energy, I have no doubt that we could solve world hunger, cure cancer, create a just and equitable world economy and write the great American novel. And all before dawn.
If we could only figure out how to get some control over our angst, we could totally rule the world.
So let’s get together tonight, somewhere between 2:30 and 4. Let’s make a plan, figure out an approach, and get on top of this whole situation.
Are you with me, ladies?