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I’m so tired: Life when sleep is not optional

April 2, 2011
The Mining Journal

I am Tired with a capital T. My eyeballs ache, my brain feels stuffed with lint. My concrete block of a head longs to tip forward and rest on my keyboard, which is beginning to resemble a letter- and number-bedecked feather pillow. My thoughts are moving as slowly and stickily as molasses in January as visions of my extra firm mattress dance in my head.

There's no one to blame but me for my exhausted condition. Sometimes I simply refuse to yield to the fact that my soul and spirit live in an almost 50-year-old container, a container that can no longer bounce me merrily through life on little or no Z's.

You could say that not going to bed at a sensible hour is an indication of immaturity. Go ahead, say it all you want. I say I'm staying young at heart, embracing my inner child... making the time to finish that overdue library book.

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If I go mad with myself, as the late writer Frank McCourt would say, indulging in a cup of coffee after 2 p.m. or a plate of enchiladas too close to bedtime, I know I'll pay the price: hours of tossing and turning as my over-caffeinated or over-spiced body works overtime processing the fruits of my sins.

Operating under the "sleep is optional" delusion is a snap for kids, and mandatory for parents of newborns. But eventually you find yourself living in a land where sleep is mandatory, a reverse Twilight Zone where common sense and moderation rule the day (and night), and woe to all who dare challenge this.

Ironically, as middle age increases the need for sleep, visits from the Insomnia Fairy increase, too. On nights I actually want to get eight solid hours of shuteye, it's guaranteed that at 2 a.m. I'll be wide awake, listening to the damp snores of my dogs and feeling the mattress tremble as Saira the beagle chases dream rabbits.

I've tried most of the standard insomnia remedies. Sometimes some of them work. When they don't, it's a long night spent in wakey-wakey purgatory, trying to think relaxing thoughts and avoid looking at the clock as it ticks off a cruel digital countdown of the minutes I have left to rest before the alarm wails at 6 a.m.

And as I count sheep, a voice in my head shouts, "Hurry up and go to sleep, for cryin' out loud! Ya gotta get up in a coupla' hours!" I don't know why the voice talks like an agitated Archie Bunker, but it doesn't contribute to a relaxing drift into unconsciousness.

Whether sleep deprived by choice or by chance, there's still a full day to be navigated come morning. Oxygen and coffee are equally vital on those mornings, as is the fictional state of wide awakeness I try to maintain until bedtime rolls back around.

My faux wide awake conversations feature lots of exclamation points: "Good morning! How are you! I'm fine! Is it 5 o'clock yet!"

If I'm lucky, I manage to consume enough caffeine to keep me largely coherent but leave me properly drowsy by bedtime. If I'm unlucky, as I usually am, I spend another night dancing with the Insomnia Fairy. Hope she likes leftover enchiladas and my latest library book selection.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by email to Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot. com.



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