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The Things That Keep Me Up At Night

A hot (no pun intended) topic among my midlife friends is insomnia, which goes hand-in-hand with hot flashes, headaches, irritability, weight gain, and so many other symptoms that come and go as we sometimes blindly find our way through the haze of perimenopause and menopause.

The Things That Keep Me Up At Night

Insomnia is the most disruptive of all the symptoms, it seems. A conversation with some of my online friends about sleep went something like this:

“I can’t sleep. I play Words with Friends at 2 a.m.”
“I fall asleep and then wake up soaked with sweat. I have to turn the air down to 52 degrees to cool off”
“If I don’t have a glass of wine or two, I can’t sleep at all.”
“If I drink any alcohol, I can’t sleep at all.”
“If I don’t take and Ambien, I can’t sleep at all.”
“If I wake up and my husband is snoring, I’m done for.”

and the worst of all:

“Once I’m up, my mind starts racing, and I never fall back to sleep.”

So what is that keeps me up at night, on those nights when I wake up, wide awake, at 1:43, or 2:17? Or worst of all, 4:30 – because if I wake up at 4:30, that’s it, I’m up. And that makes for quite a long day.

Here are some of the things that grow from tiny thoughts to big, oppressive word bubbles floating around my head:

-Money worries
-What fatal illness I must have that’s keeping me awake
-What fatal illness I must have that makes me so tired all day  (could be the not sleeping at night?)
-What to make for dinner tomorrow – ummm, today
-Where I put….something I can’t find
-What I’m going to write about for my next blog post
-Why I made that bad choice in 1986
-What I’m going to write about that will get me published in the Modern Love column
-Why I said that stupid thing in 1992
-What I’m going to write about for my next 5 blog posts
-Why I shouldn’t have had so much to drink at that party in 1997
-What it would be like if I lived in (insert city or state here)
-All the people I used to know who I don’t know anymore
-Whether all the people I used to know that I don’t know anymore ever think about me
-What I’m going to do when I run out of things to write about on my blog

Then there are these things:

-All the books in my stack that I want to read
-All the books I should read but don’t want to read
-Whether my husband will ever stop snoring
-The phone call I forgot to return
-The email I didn’t answer
-The dentist/doctor appointment I need to make
-I really should floss more regularly
-Whether my kids are happy
-Whether my husband is happy
-What does it really mean to be happy
-Is happiness an illusion
-Is it all an illusion
-Or maybe a delusion

You get the picture.

In the dark, in the middle of the night, I think about things that never cross my mind during daylight hours. I lie in bed, listening to my darling husband snoring, my adorable dog scratching and snuffling, and watch the clock. It could be worse, I guess. At least these two are here with me.

Still, I’d like to go back to sleep.

Sharon Greenthal

Sharon's blog, Empty House Full Mind, focuses on observations of the world from the midlife empty nest. Sharon is the Young Adults Expert on Sharon writes for the Huffington Post and Purple Clover. Sharon is the mother of two grown children - a daughter, 26 and a son, 24. She lives in Long Beach, CA with her husband and their perfect dog, Lambeau. Instagram: sharongreenthal

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Stella Chiu

Sunday 19th of July 2015

Hi, Sharon

I waked up around 1:45 a.m daily. At first, it drove me nut, I went back to bed but I just turned and turned on the bed. What s wast of time. I do not do this anymore.

Now a day, I wake up around 1:45 am, I immedaitely start my day with cup of good coffee. I believe I am labeled as an early bird. I accomplish many tasks during first 2 or 3 hours.

I take an afternoon nap which helps to refresh myself for the tasks of the rest of teh day.


Beth Ann Chiles

Friday 17th of July 2015

I am so with you on this. Last night it was 2:07 am (or should I say morning) and I had dreams of mangled bodies helping me move to our new house. When I woke up the sheets were soaked and of course the ceiling fan was on medium when I really needed it on over drive. Hours later I might have gotten another hour of sleep but man---it is going to be a long day.

Sharon Greenthal

Friday 17th of July 2015

One word: NAP!

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