Bedtime Stories

Bed made with white bed linen. Four fluffy pil...
Hello sleep, my old friend. Will I ever see you again? Image via Wikipedia

We all do it. Yet we never seem to get enough of it. But we can’t live without it.

Sleep. (Anyone who was thinking about sex has to be much younger than me and/or childless.) Oh, how I love to sleep; the perfect way to end a day. If there was a way to sleep or stay in bed watching bad movies 24 hours a day, I’d sign up.

I need about eight to nine hours a night to achieve full optimum power. Any less and I’m a cranky zombie. No amount of caffeine will dull the laser beams of irritation shooting from my sleepy eyes, annihilating everyone in their path.  My husband thinks I’m lazy. I think I’m cleverly escaping from reality. My day could be full of nonstop stress with everything going wrong, but I can always count on that blissful moment when my weary head hits a soft pillow and it all goes away. Please dear god, just make it go away, for 8.5 hours.

Sleep is something you never truly appreciate until it’s gone.  Back in college, I used to complain about staying up all night partying and having to go to an 8 am calculus class. Who would have guessed years later, I’d be surviving for years, almost a decade, on little to no sleep.  When my colicky son was a newborn, we were surviving on mere minutes of sleep. It was only after we started seeing giant blue gummy bears dancing in our kitchen that we realized how much we needed to sleep.  And how much we missed it and still do.

Sleeping entails all sorts of unique habits developed over a lifetime and sure to tick off your sleeping partner.  We all have our little quirky things we need to fall asleep. First is establishing a consistent routine before bedtime.  My daughter prefers to brush her teeth, put on her pajamas and read three books and sing three songs. I prefer to brush my teeth, play Angry Birds on my iTouch until a blood vessel bursts, then sit on the couch and fall asleep watching House.

Also very important is the bedroom atmosphere. I need a fan for white noise. Maybe I’m desperately trying to recreate being in the womb again. Maybe I’m trying to drown out my son’s whining at the foot of my bed that a giant Pokemon chased him in his dream and now he needs to eat some crackers at 2:30 in the morning.

Another key to good sleep is a darkened room.  I like to keep a little nightlight in the hallway that gives off a soft glow, handy for those many midnight trips parading my kids back and forth to their rooms. My husband needs to keep the TV on in order to bathe us in an electric cancer-causing glow all night long. I’m always quick to point out the bright light will interfere with melatonin levels, but he doesn’t seem to care as long as he can fall asleep in the serene safety of knowing Jack Tripper and Chrissy Snow are watching over him. After a few hours of laying there with my pillow over my eyes, having creepy dreams about Mr. Furley, I usually have had enough.  So I carefully slip the remote out of his hands (yes, he curls up with it like a stuffed animal) and put the TV on “sleep” mode. When the TV clicks off an hour later, he’ll suddenly sit bolt upright and shout, “What? Huh? Who?”  Then he’ll roll back over while I snicker as our melatonin levels surge.

If the power goes out at night, (which it does a few dozen times or so every winter) sleepy time is over.  I will stay up all night, eyes wide and heart pounding, cursing the heavy darkness crushing me and the deafening silence ringing in my ears. Is this how they slept during the Little House on the Prairie Days? For the love of all that is holy, how did they do it? I try to picture Laura huddled in her little bed with Mary, trying to keep warm, drifting off to sleep listening to the harsh Minnesota winds in the distance.

Room temperature is also a big issue. He prefers an icy bone-chilling wind blowing in from an open window. If he wakes up with his eyelids frosted shut, he’s happy. “But honey! It’s good for you! Keeps you young! My grandfather used to sleep on the front porch at night in the dead of winter and he lived to 100!” Still I prefer to maintain my body temp at a balmy 98.6. So we do the dance of pulling up the covers and yanking them off again.  I prefer to sleep in a warm cozy cocoon, he feels compelled to have at least one leg exposed (and he normally leaves it on top of mine so I can dream I’m being pinned by a giant sequoia tree all night). Makes me yearn for the old days when couples slept in cute matching twin beds. Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver knew the secret to a successful marriage. Of course, the twin beds would do nothing to smother his freight train snoring. Hmm, separate rooms might work. We need a bigger house.

Knowing what sleep position works best is also helpful. I have slept curled up in a ball on my side my entire life. My husband sleeps on his stomach, drooling into his pillow with one arm draped across my face. After you have kids, it’s a free-for-all of little arms and legs stuck every which way (and usually directly into your kidneys). This brings up another crucial issue: space. Ideally, a king sized bed with one of those memory foam mattresses would be perfect.  Most nights I end up half asleep underneath a pink canopy teetering on the edge of a narrow twin mattress covered in Strawberry Shortcake sheets.

And so tonight I look forward to sleep; that glorious golden slumber. Will I get enough? Will I once again sleep completely straight through the night? Doubtful, but I always have hope. I may find myself drifting off to la-la land only to return a perfect 8.5 hours later. Or I may find myself bleary-eyed at 2 am eating crackers with my son and watching Jack and Janet endure another hilarious misunderstanding down at the Regal Beagle.  I think I know which one I bet on.

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43 thoughts on “Bedtime Stories

  1. You made me almost choke on my very fancy supper of raisin bran and milk. (Giant sequoia….yeah, actually pretty much all your comments about your husband’s sleep habits. I have suggested Mark move to the next…umm….state……snoring. Ugh.)

  2. You’re singing my song! Well said. Once my son discovered that he could watch TV or look on his laptop if he didn’t wake us up, that was it for middle of the night visits (except for night terrors). I don’t mind not being woken up 2-4 times a night, but I need to know if the little man has been up since 2am on a school day morning.

    1. Amen for laptops! My son sleepwalks now and that’s always a joy. Or I’ll hear him in his room yelling stuff like, “No! I need to defeat Mario!” But, yeah, it’s mainly my daughter who still to this day tries to get in bed with us at 2 am.

  3. Wow, doesn’t raisin bran sound good right about now? mmmm mmmm! Y’know, you should seriously consider leaving Mark behind when you go to Vegas. (hey, maybe I can go after all, if I leave Giant sequoia man home??)

    1. And his leg is so unbelievably heavy, I usually end up violently throwing it aside like I’m dreaming I’m a lumberjack. And he always wakes up and does his trademark, “What? Huh? Who?” then goes back to his snoring.

  4. The way I see it, as an adult you only have a small window of time when you can sleep soundly through the night. It’s the time after your last child has grown up and left home, and the time when you reach the age that your bladder cannot make it through the night without screaming, “Empty me!” not once, but two or three times. Guess what side of that window I’m on.

  5. And Another Thing

    That bought back a few memories. My middle daughter had colic and it was like trying to walk on weeping gelignite trying to get her to sleep

    1. My son never stopped crying in the beginning. My husband and I took shifts at night to try to soothe him. At one point, I counted up all the sleep I had in three days and it was somewhere around 45 minutes total. I remember being at the hospital talking to the surgeon (my son ended up having surgery at 6 weeks old for pyloric stenosis) and we were so drained that we were hallucinating and breaking into fits of maniacal laughter, then sobbing. The doc looked at us and said, “Your son will be fine. Now please I beg of you– go to a hotel and get some sleep tonight!” After that I never ever took sleep for granted.

  6. When I began reading this post, I was expecting a few amusing complaints about insomnia. What you’ve produced here is a treatise on sleep-related issues, complete with a thorough analysis of problems and recommended solutions, as well as numerous funny observations (mostly about your husband). Great post, Maineiac, and I feel your pain — and your exhaustion. Maybe it’s time for a weekend retreat at that monastery.

    1. I completely agree, Charles. I don’t know how much sleep monks get, but it’s more than likely much more than I get currently. My husband should foot the bill (and make it a week long retreat so I can ALMOST catch up on my sleep)

  7. You started off with a bang, “Oh, how I love to sleep; the perfect way to end a day.” and continued with truths throughout. The mentions of Three’s Company was a bonus. Thanks for this fun read, Maineiac. As my friend says, “Tonight, may you sleep well and sleep deep.”
    ~ Lenore

  8. This post was perfect…and almost makes me look forward to going to sleep tonight with someone who invariably won’t come to bed until 1-2am yet insists on waking me to ask if I am still awake! Not to mention that he’ll have cranked the heat up on his way to the bedroom forcing me to get up at 4 am and open the window so I can breathe!

  9. I love space when I sleep. My husband loves to immobilize me. He calls it being affectionate. I wake up in one of two ways: falling off the edge of the bed, trying to move towards space in my sleep, or with him yelling in my ear because I’ve just elbowed him in the face in my sleep when he’s tried to wrap me up again. Great post.

  10. I can’t believe that I ran acrossed you again. How are you? I kind of think that you should be freshly pressed and what it up with that beautiful picture of a matress? What brand is it please? When I first saw it I thought that it said Eddie Bower on it. I personally would love a Macy Bed Matress.

  11. I can not believe that you mentioned the twin bed thing. No on talks about that. My grandparents did that. They lived in CT and on Cape Cod when I was a kid.

  12. My fiance in Phoenix, Arizona had a memory foam pillow and his bed was made from a broken wooden futon so that it looked more like a crate laying there on the floor and then he had that foam egg crate stuff tossed on top of it and the home made mattress was all wrapped up in a sheet so that you could not tell the difference it looked like a real floor type of bed. He slept with 2 teddy bears. It was our love nest so it was like heaven to me.

  13. That is a picture of some random mattress and peaceful bedroom I will probably never own. We used to have a king sized memory foam but destroyed it after we moved to N. Carolina and back one year. Very sad.

  14. I have a queen sized cherry sleigh bed. I live in an apartment, but my bedroom is pretty peaceful as far as that goes. I have one large window with a sill and outside of it is a tree that although still some what of a sapling has grown tall enough that I reached out of my window and hung a bird feeder on it once. I have a matching cherry double dresser and night table. I have a closet.

    1. Now that’s not fair. You get to drift off to sleep in a blog-induced coma while I get to continuously ruin my keyboard spewing coffee (and more often than not, gin) all over it reading yours.

  15. We finally went the King Size Bed route, with two single size duvets. Ample separation, no hogging of the blanket, yet still in the same bed…
    The TV is in the living room where the “watcher” can sleep in front of it as long as he likes…

    1. That would be ideal for me, having the TV only in the living room. I never had one in the bedroom my entire life until my husband moved in with me. He was completely stunned I only owned one TV. If it were up to him, we’d have a TV in the bathroom.

  16. When my childrens’ father and I were first together 7 years ago and less we used to have a square canopy bed. The kind with rails on all four sides, but no curtains. We would hang blankets and sheets up there and pretend it was our “fort” like little kids do. We had an apartment in a historic building and one wall that the inside of the bed was up against had a book shelf built in. It was pretty neat. We had a tv in there for a time too.

  17. My first son was born to a midwife in that apartment bedroom. I was on that bed. That was July 2, 2004. I still have the box spring and mattress, but a nicer bed.

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