Sleep hasn’t come for me yet tonight. This is hardly the first time. Everytime I overload my brain and calendar and list of concerns past a certain threshold, my ability for easy sleep gets bumped. Sometimes it is my boredom in trying to sleep and failing that urges me out of bed.  Other times it is the lure of something more scintillating than sleep. Why waste time trying to sleep when you could be reading, cooking, working, watching something you’ve been wanting to? Something has got to be more productive than this. I am not a good self sleep coach. Though I have tried tonight.

I let out a sigh. I know I should be sleeping, and I will get out of bed more willingly in the morning and my eyes so much nicer if I can get enough time logged in REM cycles. But no, I can’t always sell myself on sleep. I have  tried to sync sleep schedules with my husband, thinking that could be nice. General failure. He likes 8-9 hours a night. I can cruise for days on 5-6 hours a night. So he snoozes away unaware while I wait, turn to my side, my back, my stomach and my side again, unable to sleep.

I was not a good sleeper as a kid either. When I would pop up out of bed early in the morning or struggle to fall asleep at night my parents begged me to please read a book, watch a show, anything, just don’t wake anyone else up. And I could do all those things when I was up, but they didn’t help me go to sleep.  So I created some mental self-hypnosis: imagining myself in an antique  Bedknobs and Broomsticks-style bed, down mattress, thick duvet; spinning slowly accelerating as I until the centrifugal force of the Gravitron at Six Flags that pulled me down further into the softness, forcing me to surrender to sleep. While the imagery I had created worked most of the time when I was younger, sometimes, and more now as I get older, it’s just not cutting the mustard.
Which reminds me that I’m hungry. My stomach growls audibly and my taste buds cry out for the lonely wedge of frittata in the fridge. I grab my book from beside the bed and head to the fridge for delicious surrender. And since I’m up, a soft, warm corn tortilla with cojita cheese and a few pickled jalapenos too. Or a dish of granola, berries and cold milk. And a fig or three. I confess, I am a midnight snacker. Worst case: five months pregnant I woke up in the middle of the night with a ferocious need for potato salad. I lay in bed unable to sleep for an hour trying to tell myself no. One hour later at four in the morning, I was crawling back into bed, after making and consuming the vinegary red potato salad I couldn’t sleep without, thinking it bacon would be the finishing touch. I haven’t been that bad since, but I can’’t deny what I’ve done, or what I’m doing at the present.

Sated with my snack, but still not drowsy, I settle into my book, or the computer, reading or writing, and dive headlong into all the diversions the night is open to. Now, I know that I should really try to flip my schedule, and get over my night owlishness..Aside from my natural tendencies for less sleep, there is also an allure to being up. At night the rest of the house really is asleep and not waking to the sound of my tapping keyboard or the sounds of the kitchen, they are out cold; as soon as the sun comes up, there is no promise. The noise of me being up seems to wake the rest of the house in the morning. If I want my sleepless hours to myself, the night is my only guarantee. So, I relish the alone time for what it is, as long as I’m up for it.

I feel the bones until my eye sockets for the tell-tale depressions that let me know I may regret too much of this time in the morning. The light will peek through the slats of my blinds, and the kids will creep under my duvet to surprise me in my [eventual] sleep. The morning will be coming, and suddenly sleep sounds more desirable, more likely than it did hours ago.  My eyes tire of staring at the page, crying “uncle,” as the first part of me to plead for rest. My stomach is quiet, and now I’ll try to convince my brain to follow. It shouldn’t be long now.

August 13, 2012


  1. KDA

    August 14, 2012

    Oh, insomnia! Thanks for letting me spy on you as you toss and turn and as you rattle around the house. It’s a lonely journey, but now I can see how someone else wrestles with it. Some lovely lyric moments in your description.

  2. Kris

    August 14, 2012

    I liked this post. It is almost 3am here and so far sleep has eluded me. I feel comforted to know I am not alone!

  3. Giggles

    August 14, 2012

    As a school teacher I would try to be in bed around 11 every night so I could be up for work the next morning. And I could roughly make myself do it for the nine months of school.

    Within a week of school being out I was getting the perfect 8 hours of sleep between 4am and noon. The 8 hours between 10pm and 6am were never as restful as between 4am and 12pm. I told my dad I was just born in the wrong time zone.

    Even sleeping on missionary schedule, 10:30pm-6:30am, for 18 months wasn’t enough to make it a habit for me. Within a week of being home I was back to my 4am to noon schedule.

    My college roommates woke up more than once to a cheesecake in the fridge that wasn’t there when they went to bed because I’d felt the urge to bake at 2 in the morning. How the electric mixer never woke them up I’ll never know.

  4. Jennie L

    August 14, 2012

    I hear ya Sandra! This summer and sleep have not gone hand in hand. Glad I’m not the only one? Here’s to a solid 8 hours.

  5. Michelle L.

    August 15, 2012

    Oh darlin. I’m so sorry. Insomnia is the worst. But a teeny bit jealous you can cruise by on 5-6 hours. I’m an 8-hour girl and can’t get by on less.

    I don’t know if you’re looking for tips. But I discovered the greatest cure for insomnia this year– audio books. All the worries and cares slip away when I put on headphones and listen to a story. Maisie Dobbs books are the best. When going through a really rough time I referred to her as “my friend Maisie” because her stories took me away from my cares.

  6. Blue

    August 16, 2012

    i’m so jeal of people who need the 3-6 hrs of sleep a night. i can force myself out after a short night, but will pay for it later. i have a few friends who need 4 hours a night. the end. it’s like they get a whole extra day every day! and i’m a night owl, too. doesn’t matter the timezone, i’m up late. i have experienced insomnia a few times in my life (including this summer) and feel guilt about napping when the sleep finally arrives during the day. it’s nice to feel solidarity with such a cool chick as yourself, and know i’m not the only one. sweet dreams to you! ♥

  7. Catherine A.

    August 23, 2012

    Funny. I’m up way past midnight, reading your post. I love how food creeps into your writing. And the fact that you made a potato salad in the middle of the night has me giggling. Agree with KDA, some beautiful, lyrical moments in this.

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