Tuesday, January 27, 2004

To Sleep, Perchance To Get Seasick

I was talking with a group of friends the other day and somehow, we got on the subject of sleeping habits. I guess it all started when I mentioned that I can’t sleep in a hot room, that it has to be cool. Then another friend said that she can’t sleep unless she wears thick socks to bed, even in the summer.

One of the other girls added, “I’ve heard that the average person changes positions at least 20 times each night while sleeping, but I swear, I fall asleep and wake up in the exact same position I fell asleep in. The blankets aren’t even wrinkled!”

“Aw, you must change position and don’t even realize it,” another girl said. “Unless you’re in a coma!”

“Or you had a couple martinis too many before bedtime!” another chimed in.

Later on that night, I found myself thinking about sleeping habits. Naturally, my husband’s were the first that came to mind.

Before I got married, I’d always anticipated how romantic it would be to sleep cuddled up to my husband every night. Well, I was in for a pretty rude awakening.

On our first night of cuddling, I discovered that my husband is the type of person who jumps and kicks just as he’s dozing off. It was like trying to sleep with one of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. And getting a knee rammed into my backside wasn’t exactly romantic.

Then, when he fell asleep, he started to breathe long, deep breaths. Before I knew it, his breathing was all I could concentrate on, and I unconsciously found myself lying there, trying to match each breath he took. When he breathed in, I breathed in. When he breathed out, I breathed out. Within a few minutes, I was feeling lightheaded and woozy.

“Wake up!” I snapped at him.

Groggy, he opened his eyes. “What’s the matter? Are you OK?”

“I can’t sleep! Stop breathing, will you?!”

Not only did he ignore my request, over time, his breathing grew even deeper. In fact, it got to the point where his entire body would rock back and forth with each breath. This made the mattress move. And when I was on that mattress, it made me move, too. Because of him, there were nights when I actually dreamed I was a passenger on a boat during a terrible storm, rocking back and forth, back and forth, until I woke up so queasy, I was tempted to get out of bed and pop some Dramamine.

Then there’s my favorite pillow, which I’ve had ever since I was in grammar school. I can’t sleep on any other pillow, so I’ve always made sure to take very good care of it. Well, when my husband lies down for a nap and I’m not lying next to him, he has a habit of hugging my pillow…to within an inch of its life.

My once oh-so-puffy pillow now resembles an hourglass…a really flat hourglass. To protect what’s left of the poor thing, I have to hide it the minute I get out of bed in the morning and then carry it back to bed with me when I’m ready to retire for the night. I make certain that it never stays on the bed where “Steamroller Breslin” can get his pillow-squishing paws on it.

I suppose I should be grateful that I’m not married to a snorer. My dad used to snore in a variety of octaves and decibels. There was one snore in particular that used to crack up my mom and me. Dad would inhale with a loud, bull-like snort. Then when he breathed out, his lips would make a perfect circle, like a donut, and out would come a really high-pitched “pooh…pooh…pooh.” It always was exactly three “poohs”…never two, never four.

One day, my dad was napping and launched into his famous snore. At the time, we’d just adopted a kitten, and the sound intrigued her. She jumped up next to my father and sat there, intently watching him. She focused on his O-shaped mouth, especially when the “pooh-pooh-pooh” sounds came out. All of a sudden, the kitten shoved her entire paw right into my dad’s mouth.

As Dad abruptly awoke, sputtering (and probably wondering why his mouth tasted like kitty litter), Mom and I dissolved into fits of laughter. We figured the kitten must have thought he was hiding a wounded animal in his mouth.

I hate to admit it, but I suppose I have a few strange sleeping habits of my own. For one thing, I always sleep in a fetal position, with my arms crossed over my chest and a hand resting on each shoulder. My husband calls it my “parachute jumping” position.

Then I have to be covered with a sheet or blanket at all times, even in the middle of the summer when it’s hot enough to melt asphalt. And I can’t sleep if the sheet isn’t tucked in at the foot of the bed. If it becomes untucked…instant insomnia.

My husband, however, tosses and turns so much, the blankets and the top sheet usually end up in a heap on the floor by morning.

And people wonder why I have bags the size of knapsacks underneath my eyes…