I’ve never been a good sleeper. As a baby I’m quite sure I awoke every few hours wanting to be walked and patted, fed and talked to. As a toddler and up until I went to school, I would lay on my bed at naptime and draw on the wall or wipe my boogers in a design hoping no one would notice. By the way, they did notice and soon I no longer had to lay there ‘trying’ to go to sleep.
I’m still not a good napper. I’ve tried, but it rarely happens for me and when it does, the neighbor’s lawn service pulls up and 3 guys with a mower, weed eater and leaf blower jump out to attack his yard and assault the air waves, leaving me resentful and just a tad grouchy.
I can’t remember ever sleeping past 6:30 a.m., although I probably did in college. Once on daylight savings time, lightening turned off our electricity, stopping my alarm clock, and I woke up at 8:00, disoriented and late for work.
I tell myself I’m going to sleep in, and at 5:50 a.m. my eyes pop open and I can’t wait to brew some coffee. I think I will turn off my alarm and fall back to sleep, but I lay there thinking of all the things I could accomplish if I would just go ahead and get up. I love being up early before anyone else is awake.
I do have guidelines for myself. For example, if I wake up at 3:00 a.m., I make myself try to go back to sleep. If I’m still awake at 4:00, I wait till 4:30 and then get up.
If I wake up at 4:00 a.m., I make myself lay there until five. 5:00 a.m. is my earliest time to get out of bed, but I have started the coffee pot at 4:30, so basically my guidelines are nil and void.
The last few years I worked, my school was on the north side of town, meaning I needed to leave my house at 6:45-7 a.m. in order to miss the morning traffic. I was in bed by 9:00 p.m. and read until 9:30, then lights out. I jumped out of bed at 4:30 every morning and repeated the cycle. I have tried to blame my early rising on those last few years, but friends, I’ve been retired since 2010. Clearly, that is not my problem.
If we are on vacation, I can never sleep the first night in a strange hotel room. Before I get ready for bed my mind goes toward bed bugs, lumpy pillows and unclean sheets. Neurotic sounding, isn’t it? I check the bed, check the air conditioner, check the pillow, make sure I’m on the best side of the bed, and then I can crawl in.
Hospitals, cars, planes, and trains? No zzzz’s.
Hammocks, lounge chairs by the pool, and cruise ships? Wide awake and rubbernecking, so as not to miss anything.
I like my own bed. I have a mental checklist that asks, is it dark enough? Cool enough?
Do I have something to read? Ear plugs? Bite guard? My mind asks these questions and explores situations, always jabbering away when I should be snoozing. Shhh, I tell myself, but I’m just not a good sleeper.
No discussion about sleep would be complete without talk of the dreaded CPAP machine. Once upon a time, Boo used a CPAP. If you have ever been near one, you know what I’m about to say is true. When Boo had it on properly, it was quiet, steady, and reliable. However, some CPAPS have ‘user error’ when it slips sideways, or there is trouble putting it on in the dark. When this happens, it is extremely loud. Loud like a howling wind, tornado, and roaring ocean, all at once. This occurred more than once and when it did, Boo would use a few choice words, rip it off his face and fall back into a dead sleep. Meanwhile, I would be shockingly awakened with the roaring sound, curse words and velcro ripping apart. I would sometimes be wide awake until dawn, praying not to smother him in his blissful slumber.
In my golden years, will I be one of the little old ladies at the home who bothers the night shift or complains that I have been waiting for the cafeteria to open since 4:00 a.m. wanting my coffee? Maybe they won’t be able to find me a roommate who will adapt to my schedule saying, “She’s a little particular about bedtimes.” And I surely do not want someone who likes to talk in the mornings, because that is my sittin’ ugly time, and one cannot sit ugly and talk at the same time.
All this talk about my future as a nursing home resident may keep me up tonight. One thing I do know for sure is that no matter what time I go to sleep, I will always wake up between 3 and 6 a.m. I’m a creature of habit, and I happen to love mornings. But the plain and simple truth is, I’ve never been a good sleeper.