I have a complicated relationship with sleep. On the one hand, I find it fun. I tend to have vivid dreams that I can remember the next day. I have a bedtime routine that gives me great comfort – so much so that when I am travelling and can’t make it happen I feel off-kilter for days afterwards. As a classic introvert whose life requires her to be very social, being in bed with the covers over my head, my eyes shut, and my dog curled up against my leg is often the only time during the day where no one is talking to me or making demands. It’s the time of day when I can take a deep dive into the recesses of my brain and clean up the mess.
Of course, I’m older now, and my body and mind work differently than they used to. Let me rephrase. I’m older now, and my body and mind don’t always work the way they used to. I used to be a champion sleeper. I could sleep on command, at will, wherever I was. I remember in college, back when the most sophisticated electronic device one could carry on one’s person was one of those calculator watches with all the buttons, occasionally having the time and desire for a catnap. I’d sit wherever I was – a couch in the student center, the hallway of a classroom building – lean back, and go to sleep. I was pretty good then about setting an internal alarm clock for something like 20 minutes. Sometimes, if I were especially tired, I’d pin a note to my shirt that said “Please wake me at 3:20”. This was back before Post-It Notes, too.
Dayum, I am old.
Now, even if I do have 20 minutes or so to rest my eyes in the middle of the day, if I close them, I’m just bombarded with a billion thoughts, 999,999,999 of which are the things I need to be doing instead of closing my eyes and resting. All my sleep time is relegated to night time and in my regulation bed. But now, during-or-post menopause I have found myself unable to sleep. I spend hours at a time staring at the insides of my eyelids, so exhausted it is physically painful, and unable to do anything about it. Sometimes I drink a glass of milk. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook. Sometimes I cry.
Sure, there’s medicine I could take, and occasionally I do take it. I’m very sensitive to it, however, and it lingers in my system. I try really hard not to take it on weekdays when I can’t sleep it off in the morning.
I’ve been stuck with a choice: I’m either stupid and groggy because I haven’t slept, or I’m stupid and groggy because I’ve taken medicine.
All of which is the world’s longest introduction to the following surprising fact:
Last night was one of those so-tired-it-hurts nights. In addition to a string of sleepless nights, I also had a stressful week at work that involved (gasp) a lot of algebra. Yes, algebra – I’m a lawyer, and if you are 15 and asking yourself, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” the answer is when you are calculating who-should-get-what in a complicated estate.
I lay down in bed after washing my face and brushing my teeth as usual. I read about 40 pages in my book so that someone else’s story would be swirling around my head as I tried to drift off. I put on my CPAP and rolled onto my stomach, pulling up the covers as high as they would go. My dog curled up against my leg. It was go-time.
And the next thing I knew it was six in the morning. I slept through the actual night. Me. I did it. I felt so energetic and clear-headed. I couldn’t wait to get cracking on my to-do list. Instead of depressing me for being insurmountable, the list looked like a low hurdle to clear.
Beware, y’all. If I
can do this two nights in a row I just may take over the world.
 My CPAP mask serves as a sort of SCUBA gear, providing me oxygen while I’m in the depths.
 Often, but not always. I actually had to say this sentence the other evening: “What part of me lying in the dark on my face under the covers makes you think it’s a good time to talk to me?”
 The remaining thought is generally working out a complicated justification for getting a snack.
 How are you supposed to know?
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.