Insomnia has been my nighttime companion as long as I can remember. I have memories of alternately lying and standing in my crib in the near darkness, not upset, but unable to fall asleep. Not much has changed in the more than 30 years since then.
My friend insomnia appears more often in the summer. I love the feeling of sleeping in a chilly room, ensconced in heavy blankets. Even with a window air conditioner providing a lush background of cool air and white noise I find it difficult to fully relax with during this season. The children also stay up later in the summer. It’s a pleasure to eat a late dinner out on the patio and to huge stacks of bedtime stories without the pressure of an early wake up and school drip off. But I pay for that pleasure later when my children don’t fall asleep until 10 pm and my introverted self still needs a couple of hours of alone time to unwind. At that point it’s midnight and my brain has reached a state of overtired wired exhaustion that is not easy to come down from. And tonight, after all that bragging about exercise I find that my nearly 37 year old body is sore. I can feel my rheumatoid arthritis in my fingers and in my knees keeping me awake reminding me that no matter how much I work out I am never going to work my body back into feeling like a twenty year old.
It’s 1:50 am local time and tonight is shaping up to be yet another sleepless night. It is quite pleasant in my house right now. I’m in our den/office/sun room. The only light in the house is that of the computer screen which I have set at its minimal brightness so as to minimize the disruption of the light onto my circadian rhythm. There is a blissful quiet. Not only are the children all sleeping peacefully but the house sleeps as well; there is no whoosh of a washing machine or hum of a dishwasher; nearly always purring along in the background. A faint smell of the days activities lingers. There is the sweet smell of new wood; Husband is building Older a built in desk in this room. There is a another hint of sweetness in the air. I canned ten jars of strawberry jam today. Over those smells I can also get a whiff of tomatoes and garlic; roasted in the oven for the first batch of tomato sauce this season. I can look out and see the solar string lights hanging from our patio, now dimly glowing as the last of the sun’s energy escapes them. The cool air filters in through the open window restoring me; today’s heat is a distant memory; tomorrow’s forecast heat seems far away. I hear, through the open window, that I am not the only one awake. Some creature stirs in my garden. I harvested all the ripe tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini today; hopefully whatever it is will leave the unripe fruits to grow another day.
Husband fell asleep a couple of hours ago. I’ve listen to him snore and poked at him to stop. I’ve read about climate change. Then, deeming that too depressingly stimulating I looked at handbags online (I have a fondness for Kate Spade bags although I’ve never purchased one new; I am too cheap and too anti-consumer to do so, nor do I really need more than one bag, but I do enjoy looking at them). I contemplated what I am going to do with the rest of my life (definitely not the best recipe for relaxation and I willed myself to stop). I tried meditating. I updated my to-do list. I thought about Christmas gifts. I petted my cat, who despite supposedly being nocturnal seems to have no problem with sleep and is sprawled across my pillow twitching as she catches dream-mice.
As you might have noticed I am trying to write every day (either here or in other forms). Because my commitment to daily exercise has resulted in my developing an ingrained habit to do so I thought I would try the same thing with writing. Much like working out I decided that I would try not to put too many constraints on it or expect particularly fine writing at first but that the most important thing was, in the immortal words of a certain shoe company, to “Just do it!” Tonight I finally decided that if I can’t sleep I should write a bit. Perhaps by doing so my brain will finally be able to shut down and let me sleep.