mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF dreams and wakefulness

Confessions of a Light Sleeper

I was born a resistant sleeper, one of those children who resisted letting go of the day. On the other hand, I was easy to wake. A life pattern is established: a resistant "light" sleeper.

Menopause threw my sleep into chaos, with its wretched night sweats. Hormone replacement cured that malady.

I've gone through periods when I get the 3 A.M. anxieties. But these days falling asleep is still my challenge. The radio in my ear is no longer the lullaby it once was. Lately, it's as simple as itchy skin — winter dryness? mild anxiety? — that prevents me from falling asleep or that wakes me up in 20 minutes.

I can lie awake for hours, wishing it was morning so that I could get back to my projects.

And then, three weeks ago, the doctor gave me a prescription for Ambien. Oh, happy days.

I never realized how light and fitful my sleep really was. Ambien is not a knock-out punch like a sedative or barbiturate. For me, it simply switches the volume off. I'm asleep. I dream. It make me think I've been swimming on the surface of sleep all along and now I can dive below the surface.

Results: I can actually plan to fall sleep around 10 and wake up around 6. I can skip my afternoon nap. I'm also skipping my evening glass of wine, since I'd rather miss the shine than the sleep.

I wonder what the downside will be. Maybe the magic wears off if you take it every night. I think it was Ambien that people claimed made them sleep walk and eat enormous amounts of food, so I told Jim to watch out for any nuttiness.

Meanwhile, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh....


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