Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Three A.M. Insomnia

I do my finest worrying at 3:00 a.m. The night is dark. The house is quiet. Everyone in the house is asleep. Except for me.
My mind races wildly at 3:00 a.m. Last night, here are the thoughts that danced through my brain at 3:00 a.m.:
· When is the Visa bill due?
· How much of the Visa bill can we pay?
· Will it be cold tomorrow?
· How is our marriage doing?
· Did we spend enough time together this weekend?
· When is the Visa bill due? Gee, I wish I’d gotten a better check yesterday. What’s the balance anyway?
· How is son Devon doing at college?
· How about son Ethan at another college and is Bryce buying too many CDs?
· Why did I eat so much last weekend?
· How long have I been awake?
Okay, the answer to the last question was easy. I broke one of the sleep rules that says never look at a clock when you’re having insomnia. It’s a good rule, theoretically. The only trouble is, I don’t even need to look at the clock to know the time. It’ll be 3:00. Possibly 4:00, but probably 3:00. Rarely any time before 3:00 or after 4:00.
Last night I cheated and looked. Twice. Once at 3:00. The next time at 3:45. No sleep in between.
Most of my friends are familiar with the 3:00 a.m. witching hour. Maybe that’s because we’re all in those fuzzy peri-menopause years. One friend who’s into psychic phenomenon tells me 3:00 a.m. is the time when “the spirits” are the closest, when we’re most likely to receive inspiration.
I wish that were the case. I never receive inspiration at 3:00 a.m. Only fears, concerns, anxieties, stupid stuff. Sometimes the worries are real. I really do need to pay that Visa bill. More often, the witching hour magnifies my concerns and the next morning they seem ridiculous. Why did I spend one second wondering about weather, for heaven’s sake? It’s not like I can do anything about it.
Robert sleeps peacefully beside me as I worry. He says there’s no need for him to worry at 3:00 a.m. because I do it for him. I agonize about teenagers getting home safely; he snoozes. I worry about the bills; he sleeps. I fret over whether the dog got fed, who will win the presidential election, whether I can meet my writing deadlines, and the chocolate bar I ate in the afternoon. Robert sleeps. I’m jealous.


Heffalump said...

Two a.m. is when I wake up the most often. Usually its some kind of dream that wakes me up at exactly the same time every night and then I struggle to get back to sleep.
My husband D almost always sleeps peacefully unless I nudge him to make him roll over when he is snoring. Even then he often doesn't remember being nudged once morning comes.

Anonymous said...

Why do men sleep peacefully while their women toss and turn? Is insomnia more common in women? Why can men sleep so peacefully while women don't?

Lisa Ray Turner & Robert Turner said...

Women have somewhat higher rates of insomnia. Some has to do particularly with hormonal changes. However, why men sleep peacefully is a bit of an overstatement. Men have a bit more sleep apnea which results in far from peaceful sleep. Maybe it is that the people who posted so far were women and it is true that many with insomnia feel frustrated when the bedpartner sleeps well.

Anonymous said...

Maybe women have more insomnia because they have more things to worry about! Women have so many things they're in charge of. They work and take care of kids They are responsible for keeping the house clean and the laundry done. Too much to worry about!

Anonymous said...

Women are not the only ones with insomnia. I am a married 35 year old male and I wake up almost nightly between 3-4 am. I also worry about everthing. I usually only stay awake for about 15 minutes though.

Lisa Ray Turner & Robert Turner said...

It's comforting to know that there are men up awake at night worrying with us women!

csale said...

My mom tends to be more nervous and my dad tends to be more laid-back. I can be like either of them depending on the situation. In high school I was a very nervous girl. I stayed up late at night worrying about things I said and assignments that are due. It took me a long time to be able to stop worrying and get to sleep.

My parents have a similar situation where my mom wakes up and my dad usually sleeps through it. My mom usually gets up in the middle of the night. She's always been a light sleeper but she said that ever since she had children she can't sleep through the night. She's still stuck on "taking care of babies" mode. She probably also gets a visit from the nighttime worries (or night demons as we call them). I am 23 and my brother is almost 21. That's a long time to be waking up at night!

Thanks for the interesting blog.

Lisa said...

Thanks for your comments, csale. I'm like your mom. I slept deeply before I had kids, but ever since became a light sleeper. I think mothers sleep differently. I wonder if part of their brain is always listening for kids. I know that some animals sleep with half their brain awake and half asleep (If I recall correctly, it's geeese or ducks or some kind of water fowl that do this). Maybe humans can do the same.