The universe conspires against my sleep. I would assume yours as well. A solid night sounds like such an easy thing, but I have learned that perfect shut-eye is reserved for teenagers or people having surgery.
I can’t help but laugh — no, howl — each time I read the National Sleep Foundation’s website proclamation, “…a simple definition of sufficient sleep is a sleep duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening and leaves one feeling alert and refreshed for the day.”
Hilarious, right? “Sleep duration.” “Spontaneous awakening.” “Refreshed.” The folks at that organization must have been skipping through a field of poppies and dancing with unicorns when they came up with that concept. Then again, as I prop toothpicks in my eyelids and deconstruct that sentence, it might be totally accurate. It says sufficient sleep leaves “one” feeling alert and refreshed. One. I get it now. One person, somewhere in America, is experiencing sleep duration. That’s what they meant. I’m sure of it.
I don’t hear too many people saying they get a full seven to nine hours in a row most nights. That’s where the Mayo Clinic sets the bar for adults. Seven to nine. Imagine. Even Oz and Sanjay keep screaming about how we’re such a sleep-deprived nation. I could do some statistical mining here for you — tell you the direness with fancy precision — but that would require a formidable blend of effort and numbers. Tired as I am right now: No.
Let’s just say most of us are averaging not enough.
Back in my single days, I was in total control. I’d go to bed at the right time. Set the alarm. Wake up. Run. Shower. Primp. Go to work. When I’d smile, one of those computer-generated sparkles would flash off my front teeth. I never thought about sleep. It was simply, unquestionably, reliably there. Like paved streets. Sunsets. Lawyer commercials.
Then came phase two, family life. Chirp. Once you’re a parent, especially during the early years, sleep pretty much goes out the window. And somehow it never completely returns.
Any outsider looking in would think I’m finally set up to be the most rested person in the world. Chirp. No babies or toddlers in the house — my kids are in high school. I have a husband who never, ever snores. Never, ever. And a nice, firm mattress. High thread count sheets. Chirp. No needy, hyper pets. Quiet neighbors. Nothing’s in my way. Nothing.
SMOKE DETECTORS THAT GET LOW ON BATTERY POWER ONLY AND ALWAYS AT 2 a.m. That’s right: Chirp. And some other things…
Teens who dutifully respect curfews — for the Mountain Time zone.
Weather radio warnings voiced by Casey Kasem’s nasal/robotic cousin. (I swear Mr. 4 a.m. sounds just like Kasem, but with sick cyborg-ness and a compulsion to say “county” 500 times.)
Arrival of the actual stuff as hosted live by Casey Kasem’s nasal/robotic cousin.
Nightmares. See 1.
Earworms. Have you heard the hemorrhoid jingle?
Snoring. As done by me. That’s right, har har. Sometimes I snore. This is followed by my silent partner’s gentle nudges.
3 a.m. For no reason, I awaken at this time. A pattern that allows me the opportunity to spend several hours convincing myself if I don’t fall asleep in five minutes, the day ahead is ruined.
On rare, glorious “sleep in” days, there’s always at least one family member who must get up and rattle around at dawn for a tournament, weekend work, a trip, or, frankly, to hurl out a virus. There’s also a squirrel on the roof.
Normal, uninterrupted sleep is tops on my very strange bucket list. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Denise Snodell, a 913 freelance columnist, writes every other week.