I’ve always been a night owl. When most people are on their way home from work, I’m just waking up. I eat breakfast at four in the afternoon. I eat supper at eleven at night. I just can’t seem to adjust to a normal schedule.
Lately, however, it’s become even worse. The other morning, for example, I went to bed at eleven and then woke up at six in the evening. I have room-darkening shades in my bedroom that make it look the same in there (dark) no matter what time of day it is, so I never have any trouble falling asleep, even when it’s broad daylight outside.
But a little over a week ago, all of that changed.
For some reason, I began to suffer from insomnia. I’d always prided myself on the fact I could fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow. But lately, I go to bed and just lie there. An hour goes by and I’m still awake. Two hours later, the same. I have no idea why. I don’t drink coffee, my bed is comfortable, I don’t feel stressed out about anything and I don’t have any aches or pains.
Because I can’t fall asleep, things that never bothered me before are bothering me now. For one, there’s my clock on the nightstand. It ticks. So as I’m lying there, all I hear now is, “tick…tick...tick.” And it seems to get louder with every tick. I like the clock and don’t want to get rid of it because it has a loud alarm, which I need, and great big numbers on the face, which I also need.
So I bought earplugs. They successfully tuned out the ticking, but because they also blocked all other exterior sounds, they seemed to amplify the interior ones – mainly the ones inside my body.
There was my heartbeat, which suddenly sounded like a bass drum, “tha-thump, tha-thump, thumpa-thumpa” (I probably should have a doctor check out that last one) and drove me crazy. Then there was my stomach, “grrrrowwwl, grrrrowwwl,” in stereo. I finally couldn’t stand the torture any more and took out the earplugs, figuring the clock’s ticking was the lesser of two evils.
My answering machine also happens to be in my bedroom. Even though I always shut off the ringer and turn off the volume when I go to bed, the machine still makes a single “beep” sound whenever someone leaves a message. Five days in a row last week at exactly the same time, 9:15 a.m., the answering machine beeped once. And every day, the message left was nothing but a hang-up call. The machine identified the caller as a satellite-TV company. Lack of sleep caused me to become irritated, mainly because that one beep every day jolted me wide awake when I was trying to doze off.
So on the sixth day, I was ready. I stayed up and waited for the annoying satellite-TV call.
“Hello?” I practically growled into the receiver when the phone rang.
“Hi there! How are you today?” the cheerful male voice responded. “I have a gift for you! Free HBO for a month! How does that sound to you?”
Let’s just say that my response pretty much guaranteed he’ll never be calling me and making my machine beep again when I’m trying to sleep.
A couple days ago, it wasn’t until noon when I finally managed to nod off. Up until that point, I’d pounded my pillow into submission, added a blanket to the bed because I was cold, then removed it because I was too hot; adjusted my pajamas a dozen times because they were either bunching up, sliding down, twisting or giving me a wedgie, and I also got up to go to the bathroom twice. After that, I finally fell asleep, probably due to exhaustion.
“Aroooh! Aroooh!” came from outside my bedroom door. It was my dog, Raven.
“Go to sleep!” I muttered and pulled the blankets over my head.
“Aroooh! Aroooh!” she continued.
I ignored her. I wasn’t about to get out of bed and risk becoming wide awake, then be forced to struggle for another two hours to fall asleep again. So I ignored Raven and managed to go back to sleep fairly quickly.
When I got out of bed four hours later, I discovered that Raven had left me a surprise on the rug, as if to say, “That’ll teach you to ignore me when I cry to go out, you old hag! Take that!”
The other morning, as I once again was lying in bed and dealing with insomnia, I decided to try the age-old remedy of counting sheep jumping one by one over a fence. By the time I counted sheep number 53, I was picturing it surrounded by tomato chunks, onions and green peppers, all grilling on a shish-kabob skewer.
“Grrrrowwwl,” said my stomach.
I’ve decided I probably just should stay up 24 hours a day and not bother going to bed at all. So if you happen to see me out in public, I’ll be the one with such dark circles around my eyes, people will be calling me “Raccoon Woman.”