Sleep Talking

I used to wonder why we even slept. It seemed such a waste of time.

I remember regretting having to sleep back when I was raising young children and holding down an evening job. I would wake early, and having never been a morning person made that a hard thing to do. I’d get my kids off to school and when I got home the couch was like a magnet drawing me in. Just for a moment, I’d think. Just for a moment.

I’d wake up close to noon, astonished it was so late. Then rush to do a full day’s chores in two hours’ time. Shower, dress and drive down the block, park and wait for my kids to round the corner from the school and hop in. If I drove the last half-block to the school I’d get tangled up in all the Mom traffic and never make it to work on time.

After a few never-ending minutes of craning my neck to see around that corner, I’d hotfoot it down to the hospital, pull up at the daycare on the premises, unload my kids and my guilt for the day. Drive to the parking garage, power walk to the building, run upstairs (I could do that back then), clock in, and then wash the day away as I went about my nursing duties. Nothing else existed for me during those eight-plus hours.

After midnight I’d reverse the process, help/carry my sleeping kids inside, tuck them in their beds and collapse into mine. If I was lucky I’d be asleep by 2:00 a.m. And then by 7:00 a.m. the cycle had reset.

I slept like the dead back then, the sleep of exhaustion. I was on my own those days, my husband sailing the ocean blue for months at a time as a merchant marine. I needed a jump-start every single day. Even so, I berated myself; I could be so much more productive if I didn’t have to sleep the morning away!

I forgive myself now that I sleep the sleep of the needy. For if I don’t get enough sleep, whether all at once or in several doses, whatever aches I may have go up the pain scale. I can count on that; I can solidly bet on that.

My rheumatologist understood this before I did and offered me Flexeril years ago. It’s a muscle relaxer which has the side benefit of making you drowsy. I try my best to remember to take the small dose most nights. Sleep is crucial for quality of life and allows some wondrous processes to take place.

And with sleep, as with story writing, setting can be of vital importance. I decided I would make my bed as conducive to sleep as I could, and wondered how best to dress it. I knew hotel sleep always seems so much more refreshing, the beds plush and inviting. I wake rejuvenated, refurbished even.

I figured it had to do with the novelty of my surroundings, and the letting go of daily obligations for a while. And then I read this article. It was because of the white beds, it said. Aha, I thought, I can do that.

“These sheets feel so awesome,” my husband said, sliding between them for the first time. He’d never commented on new sheets before, or even noticed when there were new sheets. I decided not to clue him in as to why they might feel “awesome.” After all, a little mystery goes a long way.

But I’ve noted that his bits of insomnia have disappeared. He no longer complains about his new career keeping him awake. Perhaps it’s because after several months he’s settled into the job. Or perhaps it’s because of our consistently snowy bed. 


3 thoughts on “Sleep Talking

  1. Carla Kienast

    Irma: Thanks for the wonderful post. There was a wise someone who once commented that you can be frugal on many things, but good bedding should never be one of them. And thanks for the mention of Flexeril. I’ll look into it. Lately I’ve been so stiff and sore that I either can’t go to sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night. Pain pills don’t seem to quite do it and leave me hung over. Maybe this is the answer. Sleep on!

    1. Irma Post author

      Hi, Carla. Do look into it. I might have mentioned that my rheumy also has RA. That makes him not only empathetic, but proactive as well. I’m to take 5 to 10 mg at bedtime. I usually take five and only take the ten when it’s been a particularly physically stressful day, whether due to activity or pain. The five milligrams serves to ease me into sleep, but it doesn’t in any way knock me out or make me feel hungover in the morning. Whereas after nights when pain keeps me awake, I do feel hungover and can’t think. Hope this or something like it helps you.

  2. J.G. Chayko

    You make it sound so cozy…I want to return to my bed and curl into my heating pad. I have trouble resetting my sleep clock. My body wants sleep when I have to be up and about…when it’s time for sleep, my brain decides it wants to work. I look forward to finding that balance one day – you’ve given me hope 😉


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