How Do You Sleep?

Hello to all and my apologies for taking so long to provide you with a new post. As you may imagine, re-entry after vacation can be an ugly thing. Trying to catch up after being away for a week can take almost two weeks (as you can see), so please forgive me.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we’re coming into our busy season at the office and I can feel the first brushes of “Priscilla” coming over me.

For those of you who are longtime readers, you may remember that Priscilla is the alter-ego I created last year as a way to deflect any responsibility for being awful to the people around me. It’s just that, I work in the employee benefits industry (creating their employee education materials) and now’s a big enrollment period for many of our clients. As a result, I spend most of my time working, which I why I feel the need to create another personality to take responsibility for my actions under extreme exhaustion.

For example, last night my husband asked me if I wanted a glass of water, and I’m pretty sure I roared like a caged tiger.

Add to that the fact that I’m:

a) on another cleanse (in my never-ending futile attempt to get rid of my fat stalker); and

b) 11 days clean and sober off of caffeine (although I did have a dream last night that I was standing in front of a rabbi and an entire congregation taking vows with a grande skim extra cold frappucino)…

…and I’ve got a bad personality disorder brewing. (Oh God, I miss coffee.)

But I digress. Or, maybe I’m just rambling.

In any event, as a result of the time of year, withdrawal, and the need to do double duty because I dared to take a vacation, not to mention the tsunami of work heading in my direction (only made worse by the fact that I can see it coming and do absolutely nothing to stop it), I haven’t been sleeping well.

Actually, that’s an understatement.

Of course, that’s nothing new, when you’re my age and, well, when you’re my age. Or so they tell me. In fact, here are some responses from my informal poll around the question “How do you sleep?”:

My mother: “It’s your age. It’s just your age. I don’t sleep. Haven’t slept in years. Don’t you think your hair’s a little long for a 47-year-old?”

My friend Carol: “Oh no. I never sleep. In fact, I’m making peace with the fact that I’ll probably never really have a good night’s sleep again.”

My friend, who prefers to remain nameless: “I was like to my doctor, ‘God, if I could only sleep, if I could only sleep.’ I told my shrink I didn’t want to take anything but everything is so hard when you don’t sleep, you know. Well, then she put me on this [stuff] and, now I sleep like a dead person. And I have these vivid dreams. Along with my thyroid medication, this stuff is unbelievable.”

My friend Jill: “Oh NOOOOO. Jilly, are you fu*^in kidding me? If I get four good hours, that’s a fu*^in good night.”

My friend Jane*: “I haven’t slept in years. BUT my acupuncturist says that I should get some black cohosh for night sweats. AND my craniosacral therapist thinks maybe I have some past life issues, like maybe I went out in a bad fire, which are contributing to the extreme internal heating.”

My husband Dan: “I sleep GREAT.”

My friend Donna: “Huh?”

My friend Lorrie: “I sleep like a dead alligator. Who wants popcorn?”

My friend Lorrie’s children (Spencer and Kyle): “Mom snores like a chainsaw.”

My analysis? Most of us in our 40s, with few exceptions, are NOT sleeping. To which I ask: WHAT THE WHAT?

I mean, if we were struggling to enlarge our penises (which, of course, we don’t have) or invest at a higher rate of interest, there’d be an entire McMansion industry dedicated to the cause. But when a cadre of middle-aged women can’t sleep, what does anybody do about it?

Nothing. Not. A. Thing. And when I ask the “experts” (read: useless endocrinologists who think the only answer to anything is to strap a person on a table and stop feeding them for two weeks to get them to lose any weight, which I know is off topic, but still), the only answer I ever get is: “Well, it’s the age.”

It’s as if being this age is like having a chronic disease for which there is no a) cure or b) pain management. Doesn’t anyone care that an entire movement of women is operating heavy machinery, raising the children who will be the future of our country, and making important decisions in business on as little as 240 minutes of sleep a night?

That doesn’t even take into account the psychological and environmental effects on the actual person suffering from (apparently) age-induced insomnia—like watching middle-of-the-night television.

Another case in point: The other night, I sprang up in bed, as usual, at about 2 a.m. After about a solid hour of twisting and turning—wondering how I was going to get that enrollment guide and manager’s toolkit to my client by Wednesday, why my husband’s ex-wife hasn’t been punished for costing us some $30,000 in legal fees unnecessarily, and how come Tammy L**** and Wendy M***** were mean to me when I was 16 since I was nothing but really nice to them—I decided to stop trying for sleep. Instead, I got up and chose to numb my senses with a little CNN.

Despite the fact that my husband was sleeping, I promptly turned on box. (Mind you, the one time in 12,000 years he couldn’t sleep, he was considerate enough to watch TV in the family room, so as not to wake me; yet, I find having to leave my cozy bed rude and punishing.)

A rerun of Larry King was on. Perfect, although the guest was Snoop Dog and as a statement of the obvious, I’m not exactly in his demographic. Still, I watched because it was better than watching the clock and the precious minutes I had left for sleep passing.

Then, the commercials came on, one after the other, in almost slow motion. Spot after spot, there was some aging celebrity or voiceover hawking reverse mortgages, cemetery plots, life insurance, denture cream, walkers, osteoporosis medication, electric wheelchairs, and retribution for mesothelioma. I never thought I’d long so much to see a Victoria’s Secret commercial. Somebody promoting a new Pillsbury new cake mix. Even Jamie Lee Curtis promoting Activia.

As I lay there, eyeballing this death-festival, one after the other, in horror, I had a bad revelation: I had just entered a new demographic—and it wasn’t Snoop’s. I was no longer so put off by my exhaustion and the fact that I had to soon get up for work, as I was by the fact that I was officially old and going to die someday. And getting closer by the moment.

Now, I was lying awake, asking myself if I should be thinking about a reverse mortgage instead of refinancing? Does flossing really prevent dentures? And, how do I know if I have mesothelioma? What are the symptoms?

But the bigger question was and still is: What’s it really all about? And why hasn’t somebody come up with a f*^in remedy for middle-aged women who can’t sleep. (Sorry, I’m sleep deprived.)

How about you? How do you sleep? Ever watch middle-of-the-night television? What questions does it raise for you?

Until next time!

*Not her real name.

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