Can we talk about sleep?
I’d love to know your falling asleep tricks, because I need some!
The first problem is that I’m a natural nightowl and always have been. As a little kid, I couldn’t wait to go to bed so I could lay awake making up stories. It probably took me two hours to fall asleep every night because I was busy weaving tales that would have curled my mother’s hair, had she known what was going on in my strange little head. When the alarm went off in the morning I was, naturally, exhausted. I had a bunch of pillows on my bed and I kept adding one to the pile behind my back until I was fully vertical. I’m not kidding. It was the only way I could make getting up bearable.
This pattern lasted well into adulthood, the only difference being I was now getting paid for making up stories, so at least my nightowlishness had monetary value. But in the mid-nineties, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. One of the symptoms of RA is fatigue. Soon, all day felt like first-thing-in-the-morning to me. Only people who have suffered from some version of chronic fatigue really understand how debilitating this can be. It’s a sucking down, overwhelming tiredness and the only cure is to climb back into bed. I slept for about ten hours each night and added a couple of naps during the daytime. Then the drug researchers invented the good stuff and I got my life back. Ever since then (about ten years now), I feel as though I’m making up for all the time I lost to fatigue. I may nap twice a month, if that, and I hate losing the time when I could be doing something more productive. I also am once again a nightowl, staying up until one or two . . . or three. . . working or reading for pleasure. I get up around eight, so that’s not too bad. And I don’t get tired during the day, so I must be getting enough sleep.
So what am I complaining about? I want to be tired at night, like normal people. I want to turn out the light at midnight and fall asleep instead of thinking about my book or my life or my loved ones or everything on my to-do list. I’ve tried the typical relaxation techniques. I’ve tried meditating. Listening to soft music. Counting backwards from 100. Listing the states in alphabetical order. You name it, I’ve tried it.
Am I alone in this? Are you one of those lucky people who falls asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow? Or are you a nightowl who’s found the secret to beating your internal clock? How’s your sleep?