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Chasing Sleep

sleepless nights

Lisa writes regularly over at TweeniorMoments. This post was originally featured there.

Remember back in your teens, when you’d sleep until noon, clocking in a solid 11 or 12 hours of beautifully uninterrupted Zzzzz’s only waking up in time to eat lunch?

Fast-forward to midlife, where sleep eludes you – slow and steady for hours, evading you, minute by ticking minute.

For me, such a night begins innocently enough as I head to bed around 11 p.m. I set my alarm for 6:15 a.m., hop into bed and look forward to dozing off quickly. Fool.

Sleep does not come quickly to me in midlife. Instead, I pursue it at a tediously slow speed, hyper-aware of every passing second.

Annoyingly, a continual cavalcade of trivial thoughts persistently chase me.

  • I’m so tired! I hope I fall asleep soon. I’ve got to take Parker to school early tomorrow.
  • Oh, shoot, I forgot to pack his lunch. I’ll make a quick sandwich in the morning and throw a piece of fruit in his lunchbox.
  • Did I buy apples this week? That reminds me, I need to pick up more milk. I should probably stop at the store tomorrow.
  • Tomorrow is Tuesday, right? Ooh, it’s Taco Tuesday at Tijuana Flats. They’ve got the best tacos!
  • Where did I just see a great recipe for tacos? Was it Emeril’s segment on Good Morning America?
  • Lara Spencer was so funny the other day when she was dancing in her chair on GMA. She seems like she would be so fun to hang out with.
  • Why don’t I hang out with anyone like that? I really need to broaden my circle of friends.

And on and on it goes, as I succumb to a stream-of-consciousness mindset that would make Walter Mitty proud, with each stupid thought transitioning to the next. And before I know it . . .

Crap, it’s 2:18 a.m. already. I can’t believe I’m not asleep yet. I have to get up in four hours! Stop thinking! Just stop it right this second. No thoughts. No thoughts. No thoughts.

In the dark, I look over at my best bud. My husband Kevin—my support system, my go-to-guy—is fast asleep.

It’s now 3:27 a.m. Why can’t I just shut my brain off? Kevin is so lucky. He can fall asleep in under two minutes. Listen to him, with his steady breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Is he purposely taunting me with his rhythmic breathing?

It’s 4:46 a.m. The night drags on, as random thoughts continue to march incessantly across my brain. It’s like sleep is flipping me the middle finger. But finally, I start to drift off when . . . THUD.

What was that? Was it the cat? No, he’s sleeping on my feet. It was probably just Parker banging his leg on the wall again when he rolled over. But what if it wasn’t? Should I check?

Eyes wide open now. I listen acutely for more thuds or feet shuffling or creaks on the floorboards. But nothing. I look at the clock again – 5:02 a.m.

I’m at that critical juncture – should I just get up for the day, knowing it will take me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to fall back asleep only to have my alarm go off soon anyway? But it is 5:02 a.m., dammit!

I am not getting up out of spite. Screw you, sleepless night!

I lay there for another hour, asserting my sleepy free will and refusing to get out of bed. Somehow, this makes me feel in control of this midlife sleepless cycle that I’m caught up in.

So, for the most part I’ve given up on my dream of sleeping through the night like a teen anymore, but I’ve got to find a way to shut down the racing thoughts that keep me awake all night. What do you do to ensure you sleep soundly?

Lisa Beach

Lisa Beach is a recovering stay-at-home mom and homeschooler who lived to write about it. Her blog, Tweenior Moments, humorously tackles middle age, friends, family and all the baggage that goes with it. She's been published on Club Mid, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Midlife Boulevard, and Ten to Twenty Parenting.

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Friday 26th of February 2016

This is what puts me to sleep a spoon of peanut butter or chocolate pudding or pickled herring or sauerkraut you might like to try these

Gilly Maddison

Thursday 25th of February 2016

Oh this is so me! You have described the sleepless nights so perfectly here - even the part about your sleeping husband. Mine puts his book down, says goodnight hun and within minutes, he is sound asleep! It is now midnight as I write this and I know it is pointless laying down to sleep - your words are a comfort though because I know it isn't just me!

Carol Graham

Thursday 25th of February 2016

I have read so many posts regarding the problems with sleep. I always feel sorry for those who suffer from sleeplessness. I am 70 and never had had a problem so I cannot relate. I purposely sleep as little as possible ( about 6 hours) a night. I put my head on the pillow am asleep in 5 minutes and wake up 6 hours later ready to take on the world. I don't even move in my sleep and have never taken a pill of any type.

Lisa @ Tweenior Moments

Thursday 25th of February 2016

Wow, I'm so jealous, Carol! I've had trouble falling asleep my whole life---sometimes it takes me an hour. When I was younger, I slept thru the night. But now that I'm older, I stir a lot. You are lucky!

Marnie Clark

Thursday 25th of February 2016

ARRRGHH! The sleeping thing! I was definitely not prepared for this! My FitBIt tells me that on a good night I get about 5-6 hours of sleep, I can totally relate.

I find that the 4-7-8 breathing technique helps but it takes a little practice and getting used to. I also notice I sleep much better on the days that I exercise (especially outside).

Lisa @ Tweenior Moments

Thursday 25th of February 2016

Now that you mention it, I usually sleep better when I exercise, too. I just need to motivate myself to exercise more regularly. Better sleep gives me one more reason to get my butt in action. :)

KCLAnderson (Karen)

Thursday 25th of February 2016

I am with Leanne...

I take Zzzquil and use 4-7-8 breathing if and when I wake in the middle of the night.

I also have a mantra that seems to make me relax and shut down the voices: "it's just insomnia!"

Lisa @ Tweenior Moments

Thursday 25th of February 2016

I've heard of Zzzquil but never tried it. Actually, I haven't tried anything other than an occasional Tylenol PM or Nyquil. But I like the mantra idea.

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