Sleepless in South Salem

How much do I miss my sleep? Let me count the ways: I can’t remember the last time I woke refreshed from six to eight unbroken hours of rest; hell, I can’t remember much of anything anymore as short term memory seems to be the first casualty of sleep deprivation. I miss dreaming and when I say, “I am tired of waking up like the house is on fire, sweating, with my heart pounding from the surge of hormones,” I mean it literally: I am tired of it.

I miss operating at full capacity — feeling on top of things, having memory and energy to spare, rarely needing to make lists — knowing that I could juggle a dozen projects without dropping a ball. I miss being damn near perfect. That’s gone. Instead, I make lists all the time and pray I didn’t forget to put something down in writing. (Shoot, do I have all my lists? Wasn’t there something else?) And, in case you think there’s some kind of selective memory at work here, editing out just the boring items, I just spaced on when I’m taking my vacation — by a full week! Worse, I’m leaving sooner, not later, leaving me scrambling to break appointments, make up work, get a pet sitter, and more.

I used to think hot flashes were the most annoying aspect of menopause. Certainly it doubled my laundry for sheets, shirts, bras and night shirts. But, guess what? I can do all the extra laundry at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning now! Cause I’m wide awake! Who’s better than me? Actually, anybody who is sleeping. Or anybody who isn’t hormonally challenged. When this first started, I even thought, “Wow, if I’m going to be awake anyway, maybe I can use this quiet time to write the Great American novel.” Unfortunately, that requires far more brain power than I have after only three hours of sleep. Doing laundry is about it for my concentration levels. Feeding the cats, knitting (if it’s not too complex), answering emails ( but not for anything important), that’s about it. Did I tell you I have knit more sweaters in the last few years than one person can wear in a season?

They tell me the sleepless nights will pass and I think that’s true. I’ve learned that yoga and qi gong seem to help, as do eating lighter and earlier in the evening. Already I have more of the good nights interspersed with the bad. I’ve never needed much sleep to begin with so if I gain back just a little I’ll be ok. In the meantime, I write my lists and pray I have remembered everything. I’ve learned to get everything done early in the day so I can crash after dinner. As for my attitude, I’ve decided that, much like the business market, I’m adapting to a “Just in time” philosophy that, while not perfect, gets things done.

by Cheryl Shainmark
Cheryl Shainmark is a writer, editor, and certified hypnotherapist with a private practice in New York. A long time contributor of articles and book reviews, Cheryl is now a senior editor and a regular columnist at Merlian News. When she is not reading, reviewing, or dreaming about books she can be found playing with cats of all stripes at her quiet country retreat.