“What keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep?”
When I was a kid I slept like a rock. It didn’t matter the circumstances, what noise was or wasn’t in the house, I never had to count wayward sheep in order to nod off or to stay asleep all night. No wonder I was always bright eyed and bushy tailed every day. Of course I also got to sleep at a quality time for me (imposed by my maternal figure) so my body got used to the circadian rhythms. They got me through.
But then I got older. Teenage years were not the best. The solid sleep that I had gotten as a youngster had become an anchor because I began sleeping too soundly, not waking up when the alarm went off. Banging on my room door became the norm (since I had gotten a chain lock, for privacy’s sake), and the yelling of my mother in the morning began to assimilate itself into my dreams.
As I got to young adulthood, though, something shifted, something fundamental changed, and at first I had no idea what it could possibly be. Eventually I realized it was my bedtime. I had started watching 10 o’clock television shows on my black and white television, so I didn’t get to bed until at least 11 on most nights, and oft times later on others (I blame Mario and Luigi). These changes threw off my REM sleep, and the cycle got all jumbled up.
It started to take music to knock me out, so much so that I couldn’t lay there with no noise and drop. I would go whole nights testing that theory, in absolute silence, staring up at my ceiling and hoping I would pass out. I never did. But putting on my headphones and letting Mariah or Janet soothe my jangled nerves always did the trick. I often woke up with a crick in my neck from the way I had to lay there so my headphones wouldn’t slip off, but it was well worth it.
Oh wait, there was a prompt up there. Most nights these days I sleep like a baby, even though I had to give up the music when I got married (compromise makes the world go ’round). But sometimes I still have issues, issues that counting those athletic sheep just doesn’t solve. Usually it’s because I’m anxious about something coming up the next day. A job interview, a speech, pretty much anything out of the ordinary coming the next day just makes me a straight up insomniac.
I have tried to remedy this, tried to ease my mind by saying “It’s just another day,” but my brain isn’t that easily tricked. I have tried to put on my headphones again and let the smooth sounds of Peter Cetera or Phil Collins lull me into the abyss of sleep, but all it does in those instances is exhaust the album and I’m still up, staring at the ceiling. The only thing that seems to work is not pretending anything will work. If I sit out on the chair in the living room and stare at the television eventually I will drift (especially if it’s anything to do with NCIS).
I am a firm believer in the sleep cycle, in missing your chance to get some solid REM sleep and then having to wait for it to come around again and throw off everything else. What keeps me from getting a good night’s sleep is when I throw that out of whack, when I allow my manic mind to go everywhere it should really go the next day. Sometimes I sit there staring at the ceiling and wishing I hadn’t taken my young self’s sleeping patterns for granted.
Wishing for that good night’s sleep when I need it most.