Last week I was battling a cold. One night I took some Nyquil, so I could actually sleep. The frustrating thing is, even if I don’t have a miserable cold I don’t normally sleep through the night. I blame it partly on my cat, who usually decides that 3am is an excellent time to head upstairs and peer through my curtains. Annoyingly enough there’s a light to illuminate the courtyard that is on all night long and when Violet looks through the blinds the light shines directly on my face, so I wake up. Almost every morning at 3am. She used to be closed up at night, but now I don’t have a place to put her. It’s not entirely her fault though, these issues aren’t something new.
These sleep problems started when I went to college, although I didn’t notice it much then. I grew up in the middle of the desert where it was very dark and very quiet at night. So naturally when I moved to the city I had a hard time getting to sleep. However, it didn’t seem to matter since I was up late most nights. But the nights when I wasn’t able to sleep I blamed on things like being on the top bunk, noisy dorms and stress from studies, essays and tests.
Then I graduated out of the noisy environment and into “real life.” But my sleep problems persisted. I would wake up if I heard my housemates moving around at night. So I discovered I was a light sleeper. I found some relief when I started using an old, noisy, space heater during the winter. White noise apparently was the answer. That is until I got married … and had to share the bed.
I’ve never been particularly good at sharing a bed. You can ask my poor sister who always had to share a bed with me on family vacations. I toss, turn and usually steal all the covers. In the morning I would wake up and proclaim how chilly I was the night before since Elise stole all the covers. This would be after I stealthily pushed them back to her side of bed where she had nary a sheet all night long. But I digress.
I got married and suddenly there was this guy in bed with me. One who snored and tossed and turned and stole all the covers! It was super annoying. On top of that he always seemed to want to cuddle with me. We quickly discovered that I could not fall asleep with a sweaty, snoring man nuzzled close to my ear. The other thing we discovered was I still needed white noise to fall asleep.
We bought a sound machine and had a fan and turned them both on at night. But we had moved to a tiny one bedroom apartment and had neighbors upstairs. Jordan just thought they were annoying, but I literally could not sleep. I heard their every foot fall and wondered what kind of elephants were living up there. Even when we moved to a small house we kept the white noise going. It seemed the only way for me to get me any sleep. I eventually got used to sharing the bed and even liked it, which has posed a new sleep problem for me recently.
I have tried a body pillow, it didn’t work. It helped me fall asleep but then woke me up when I inevitably encroached upon the other side of the bed. I tried tugging my pillow down so that I held part of it to my chest and used the other part for my head. I tried using nothing and just getting used to the empty side again. I never had a big bed until I got married, so it’s still weird to have so much space. I thought of my teddy bear, (named Bobby Bear) buried in the linen boxes under the bed. I wondered if he would help.
I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m sleeping with Bobby again. I don’t know why it helps or why clutching a bear is better than clutching the corner of my pillow, it just is. I don’t take him on trips or anything, but he does live in my bed and not under it anymore. It’s true he helps a little, as does the sound machine and fan I turn on every night. But the only thing that has ever helped me sleep through the night with out waking up is medicine.
But not to worry, I’m not going to become some crazy pill popper. I’m more likely to try a cup of tea or something before I take a pill. I’m not a big fan of pills anyway. Except Ibuprofen, that stuff is a lifesaver.