I can remember a time when I used to sleep so soundly on my stomach, arms at my side, that I didn't even wake up with pillow hair. Now I look like like 2004 Bega Bad Hair Day organizer Chris Murphy when I get out of bed. (Leave it to the Aussies to come up with a celebration of the occasion.)
Anyway, menopause brings with it not only nasty hot flashes, but killer insomnia. I have no trouble sleeping like it's the end of a binge for the first two hours. But, by about 1 or 2 a.m., I'm hotter than hell and wide awake. Not "hotter" in colloquial usage either -- just plain, old organic hot, as in feeling like a blast furnace. It wakes me up, so I head for the icemaker and a glass, padding into the kitchen, fanning myself, until my sheets cool off and I can come back to bed. But then what?
The nights used to feel like they went by in a minute, and I'd hit the snooze alarm five or six times before dragging myself out of bed in the morning. Now these hours feel like thousands of minutes that I've watched tick by on the digital clock, one by one by one, until the alarm goes off, and I'm relieved to be upright again.
What do you do when you can't sleep? In case you've never listened, middle-of-the-night talk radio is a real adventure. I can't imagine what these people who call in every night are doing in the daylight world. There are truckers, of course, who love it when the announcers invite them to "rip one off," i.e., honk the horns on their big rigs. There are some with disabilities, some who never leave their homes, some who have lost their jobs. There are the very old folks who call to share their World War II memories or fume about their medical problems. There are the weather spotters who call to say it's hailing in Cottage Grove. And then there are the authors who have written books no one will ever read, and WCCO's overnight guys are their very real friends. I sleep so irregularly that I feel like I know some of these people. Strangely enough, I've imagined what they look like and remember the last times they called in.
Kevyn Burger says when she can't sleep she sometimes mentally walks through the houses she used to live in when she was a child. I suppose I could do that, but Mom and Dad had one house, and it's pretty small. One of my friends gets up and bakes or irons. Now her whole family is overweight; I imagine they can't even get into those freshly pressed shirts. I'd get up and write, but I don't want the clicking keys to wake anyone, and I usually just lay there in the dark and listen to the oddball callers or radio ratings-killer shows like "World of Aviation" and "Imagination Theater." Gives new meaning to the expression, "The Dark Side."
When the sun comes up, I step into the shower and wash my hair. I'm a morning person, after all. It's the best time of the day.