Have you ever had one of those nights when you just cannot go to sleep?
You’re completely exhausted. You try to watch television or read the newspaper, but you just keep dozing off.
So, finally you turn everything off, lie down in bed, close your eyes, and bingo! Your mind goes into overdrive and will not turn off.
You twist and turn, put your arms over your head, and then down by your sides.
And when your body is making more revolutions per minute than an old 45 rpm record, and before your spouse suggests separate bedrooms, you get back up, and if you have to go to work the next day, you try to find a way to put yourself to sleep.
A cup of hot chocolate or some cereal along with some soothing music, or television with the volume way down, and you begin to doze again. You just know you’re ready for dreamland.
You trudge back to bed, climb in, snuggle down…and again the bright lights go on in your brain and it’s off and running.
When I was a little kid, people suggested counting sheep when you couldn’t sleep. That never really made much sense to me then.
Now that I’m older I realize counting sheep had to be the absolute zenith of boredom. It should have put any sane person right to sleep.
But I would get bored, so I would start naming the sheep. When it was time to get up I knew every animal’s name and life history, and I was totally exhausted.
Sometime during my high school days I was told to imagine a place that was very calm and peaceful and pretend I was there.
I would get so involved trying to decide on the perfect place I never would go to sleep.
Some friends have suggested that when I can’t sleep I should surf the internet. I haven’t tried it yet. Since I can talk to a wrong number on the phone for 20 minutes, I think the chat rooms could really undo me.
In my pre-retirement days I discovered that when sleepless nights hit I actually felt better the next day if I didn’t fight to go to sleep. I would get up and read, watch television, clean house, write letters and/or eat until I was finally ready to go to sleep.
I could get a lot of things done because there are very few distractions between midnight and four o’clock in the morning. Granted I really wasn’t worth a whole lot the next day, but I’d go on automatic pilot and survive until I could get a nap.
Now that I’m retired, sleepless nights still come occasionally, and I’m grateful for them. I get done some of the things I’m too busy to do during the day. And when it’s time to get up the next morning, there is no bleary-eyed, achey head response to the alarm clock.
I jusst get up, get dressed, and then stretch out in the recliner until I get enough sleep to face the rest of the day.
There are definite benefits to getting old. Sleeping in when everyone else is getting up is just one of them.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on June 11, 1997.