To Dream, Perchance to Sleep

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.”


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.  


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.


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