Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Doctors suggest today’s adult requires seven and a half to eight and half hours (a night). Teenagers need nine hours, and infants need 16 hours of sleep to operate efficiently. By those standards, I’m an “inefficient machine.”
LIFE STAGES OF SLEEP
As a toddler, I was not big on napping…or lingering in my crib. Once, the story goes, my babysitter was asleep when my folks returned home to find their baby crawling around with a butcher knife. This earned me the nickname, Butchie.
Once I learned to read, I had a bedtime ritual that took a bite out of sleeping hours. By the time I hit the teens, I was an avid reader and a determined night owl. When I did fall asleep, however, it was deep. A 5 a.m. fire alarm at the bank on our block failed to rouse me, as did my alarm clock and my shrieking mother when I overslept on school days. Skipping breakfast, I would run to the bus stop, praying the buses were also running late. The last morning bell would be ringing as I raced up three flights of stairs in my high school, threw my jacket on the floor outside my homeroom and sauntered casually to my seat, red-faced and breathless.
Fortunately, I worked on the weekly school paper and “journalists” had privileges. I could sign out on the blackboard, pretending to interview someone, then take my time to run a brush through wind-swept hair.
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND
My first child was a colicky baby, resisting naps, much less eight hours a night. We were both sleep-deprived. My husband, it turned out, also had his own sleep problems. I often carried on nonsensical conversations with him while he sat up in bed, wide-eyed but technically asleep. “That kid out there, he’s looking in,” he once told me. I closed the curtains and locked all doors. He was fast asleep when I returned to bed with a baseball bat—just in case “that kid out there” broke in.
Hubby also snored. His serenading didn’t bother me until I put down my latest read. A pinch or a punch usually silenced him until I could drift off. He also had a restless foot, which he often wobbled hard enough to vibrate the bed, but I found that rather comforting.
SLEEPING AT RETREATS
On frequent quilt retreats, I learned that men were not masters of the snore. One memorable retreat I had two roommates. One snored and suffered from sleep apnea. With her CPAP machine, she went to bed wearing equipment appropriate for a pandemic outbreak. After adjusting to the white noise of the machine, I fell asleep, only to wake up hours later thinking I was in a tsunami. The CPAP had come loose and the “storm” was confined to the room.
Strange clicking began before I was able to fall back to sleep. The lodge had a geo thermal system, and I was certain something had gone haywire in pipes that clicked and hissed. When I mentioned this to my roommates, the woman in the bunk above me apologized. Bruxism was the medical term for her teeth-grinding, she explained. My apnea friend bought me some bright orange earplugs the next day.
On a recent retreat, I was reading my Kindle in bed while two new roommates were sawing wood in concert. One of them began to shout angrily in her sleep. Afraid I might be the cause, I snapped my Kindle shut and shoved in my orange earplugs. The next morning, the shouter non-chalantly confessed to having night terrors.
Today, I sleep between a dog with bad breath and a sleep-talking snorer with restless legs and a teacup bladder. The luxury of a good, efficient sleep might always be my biggest dream.
CJ Fosdick is still a night owl, hoping to find avid readers for her novel, The Accidental Wife, and the sequel in progress. Her new story released on Feb. 10 is a romantic comedy called Hot Stuff. For her newsletter sign-up and more information, check out www.cjfosdick.com.