Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stolen Sleep

When I was a kid, I often had difficulty falling asleep.  My father tried to teach me all sorts of relaxation techniques, like clearing my mind (I would imagine the expanse of space), or slowly relaxing each part of my body, beginning with my toes and working my way up to my head (my dad claims he sometimes has to do it twice, but never completes the second round).

Somewhere along the way, either during my year in Israel or my first year of college, I hit the point of "perpetual exhaustion."  I was so tired, and overextended, that I could fall asleep anytime, anywhere.

Once I am asleep, I am a very deep sleeper.

When we were little, my mother put a match under the smoke detector so it would go off in the middle of the night. She wanted to see how long it would take us all to get out of the house.  The alarm went off for 15 minutes.  None of us, not my father nor any of us kids, stirred.

Even today, if you wake me out of a deep sleep, I will say anything to make you go away.  Then I will fall back asleep.  I will not remember what we said.  Most likely, I will not remember that you woke me.  And, if I, by some chance, remember that someone/something woke me, I will not necessarily remember who or what.

During college, a friend once walked up to me and, with angry and frustration, asked accusingly, "WHERE WERE YOU?  I WAITED FOR AN HOUR BY COLLEGE WALK!"  I did not know what she was talking about.  Apparently, she had called when I was asleep, and we had agreed to meet at a certain time by the gates to Columbia University.  Not only did I not remember making a date, I did not remember that she had called or that we had spoken.

When my kids were little, they would come into my room and talk to me. I would respond with utter nonsense and they would start to cry.  My husband would get upset, but I would just respond to him with nonsense as well.  When I woke in the morning, he would attack my behavior, "why do you say those things to the kids?"  It took him years to realize that if the kids woke him up, he should respond!  I can not control what I say when I am that deeply asleep.

I viewed my ability to sleep so soundly as "one of my brachot" (blessings).

I did not relate to the Jewish concept that if you wake someone who is sleeping, you are actually stealing their sleep ("gezel shayna").  I would fall back asleep, undisturbed.  No one was robbing me of anything.

Recently, that has changed.  I still sleep well, but not always.  I often can turn over and return to sleep, but not always.  More and more, I wake easier and find it more difficult to fall back asleep.

I am not sure if this change is a result of chemo or just getting older, or both.  Either way, I do not like it.

My kids used to leave me alone in the mornings.

Now they wake me up all the time.  Sometimes it is not on purpose.  In the past, they could be as loud as they wanted.  Nothing woke me up.  Now, sometimes just hearing their voices is enough to wake me.

But sometimes they wake me, on purpose, for stupid things.  They do not hesitate to wake me.

If there is something urgent, I do not mind.  But if they simply forgot to ask me something the night before, I want them to figure out a solution on their own!  I do not want them waking me for something they should have planned in advance.

I am tired of children stealing my sleep!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Mindy said...

I almost hate to tell young moms with little ones that reality that just become kids start sleeping through the night doesn't mean you are going to get caught up on sleep! Have you tried little foamy ear plugs? I resorted to those recently and they have helped.

mikimi said...

sleep-perchance to dream...sleep can be so elusive. enjoy what precious moments of sleep you do get! wish i had more to say.

Sarah said...

I sleep with silicone ear plugs in, and a white noise machine on the shelf over my bed. My husband snores loudly. I am a light sleeper, but these tricks do help me to sleep through tummult, if I am tired enough.

And yes, even when I had babies, I heard them- always. If they were nursing (but not in my bed at the time), there was a monitor next to my bed.

Good luck! And I think it is a function of age, as well. I am beginning to realize that for myself, also. Just today, actually, I had that realization.

Leah Goodman said...

I'm a super-light sleeper. I had to move my babies out of my room quickly, because I'd wake up at every little baby sigh or moan.

I have a hellish time getting to sleep too.

I can relate. I just live perpetually tired.

Time to set "mom's sleep hours" with a "do not disturb" sign. They should understand that they can't bug you at all hours.

On the other hand, if everyone is up getting ready for school and such from 6-8, then maybe it's not a bad idea for you to be up then and go back to sleep after everyone else has left.