Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I know I will never be able to change my lifestyle so that I get to bed earlier or wake up later. As a compromise, I've started napping as frequently as I can. My last attempt at a nap was on Mother's Day. I had not slept well the night before and had also given blood that day, so I was feeling pretty hammered. After the family celebration ended, I shooed everyone away so that I could take a nap. Surprisingly, even as bone tired as I felt, I could not fall into a deep sleep.

Instead, I was hovering.

You know, hovering -- that place in between being awake and being asleep. I was awake enough to be aware of what was going on around me (like when my father in law called to wish me a happy Mother's day) but asleep enough not to reach for the phone when it rang.

Hovering is not as nourishing as real sleeping, but it's "mejor que nada." (better than nothing)

I started thinking about the mystery of sleep. How is it that our body is able to go on shut down, hypnotize itself even, as we literally fall ever so deeply into our nightly hibernation? When the mind and body really want to sleep, you absolutely cannot stop it. (That's why so many people are killed every year falling asleep behind the wheel of a car!)

Surprise, no big spiritual metaphor today. I'm just fascinated with the sleep process. Why do some people sleep so soundly? Why do others toss and turn? I'm reading a book right now, a memoir, in which the author describes her years of struggle with insomnia. It seems her body clock is so confused from "jerking" her awake when she is falling asleep during "awake" hours that even at night, as she falls asleep, her body jerks her back awake again. I can't imagine a more horrible torture!

(Actually, I have experienced this in one isolate incident. Once when I was in college, one of my brothers drove the two of us back to school. I was very sleepy from staying up late the night before with my now-husband boyfriend and getting up early the next day to take him to the airport. My brother didn't want me sleeping while he drove, so every time I began to nod off, he would tap the brakes or nudge me or say, "Tammy!" OMG, that was one long drive!)

I remember when my children were babies, that whole sleep deprivation thing was very difficult. In fact, it's a wonder I have 4 children! I can remember making pallets on the floor of the nursery and nursing the babies while I drifted in and out. (It's a wonder my kids never exploded!) Or sleeping in the rocking chair. Or snoozing while leaning over the crib (the worst possible sleep position!) By the time I had my 4th child, I finally embraced by doctor's advice regarding newborns: "When the baby sleeps, mommy sleeps...."

I don't understand what the tiny, thin thread of interference is that exists in my brain, causing me to hover instead of truly sleeping. I don't know why sometimes I fall asleep instantly and never stir again until the alarm sounds vs. staring up to the ceiling on other nights. I don't know how to make my body go to sleep (or wake up, for that matter). I just lie very still and it seems to know how to make it happen all by itself.

It is all a mystery to me, hovering and sleeping.

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