Well hey, it seems I can no longer blame my insomnia on my mother, my husband’s snoring, or my children. Apparently, I have no one to blame but myself.
According to an article by Pamela Paul, “Sleep medication: Mother’s new little helper” in Sunday’s New York Times, nearly 3 in 10 American women find solace in sleep aids (i.e. Ambien, melatonin) to get a good night’s sleep. The rest of us lay awake, our minds racing from thought to thought….did I include the wrong person on that last hastily-sent e-mail….why did my child miss that word on the weekly spelling test…did I remember to lock the front door? Seems like silly stuff, but at 3:30 a.m., it’s overwhelmingly important.
Here’s the interesting thing. It’s worse for moms. According to Paul, most can trace their initial bouts of insomnia to the sleepless nights of pregnancy. Remember those? Trying to find a comfortable position when Baby is doing gymnastics inside you is next to impossible. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better after Baby is born.
Nope, as Paul says, “the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest. It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi.”
Let me tell you…she’s right. OH so right. Darn it anyway. I had hoped that by age 55, I’d be sleeping soundly as a baby on a full stomach. But it is not to be. In fact, I have proof. My own mother, now 89, regularly admits to frequent periods of wakefulness at 3 a.m. But she has the advantage of being able to sleep in…assuming she finally falls asleep while reading one of the books stacked beside her bed for that very purpose.
There are nights when I conk out immediately, only to waken four hours later…wide awake, mind racing. Sometimes meditation works but when that fails, I finally give up on returning to dreamland. Those are the nights when I get some writing done, grade papers, mop the kitchen floor, sew, go for a run, and yes, sometimes, eat. Why not? It’s better than taking a pill — to which I’ve not yet resorted.
It’s good to know that I’m not alone. In fact, there have been times when I’ve logged on to Facebook at 3 a.m. only to find at least one other female friend who is wide awake. And so…we chat.
Now if all of my friends could coordinate our moments of sleeplessness, we could have a middle-of-the-night party. After all, we seem to be too busy to schedule them during normal waking hours.