Wishful thinking: I am attractive and ladylike while I sleep.
Reality: No, I’m not. I’ve discovered I clench my teeth, furrow my brows, get distracted by every sound and movement and, for extra insult, I snore. Most nights of the week you’ll find me with cotton balls in my ears, a dental grinding guard in my mouth, some Frownies pasted to my forehead — all with my trusty and awesome Marpac sleep machine whirring in the background.
That’s a whole lotta craziness, if you ask me — and much of it is due to my struggles with falling asleep. The experts call it sleep-onset insomnia, but we in the club like to call it, “Why the hell can’t I shut my mind off and fall asleep like everyone else? Why? WHY?!”
It doesn’t happen every night, but it’s definitely increased over the years. Now that I have a partner sleeping beside me, it’s a pattern I can no longer ignore. (Ironically, he’s the best guy a gal could ever ask for except that he has a gift I do not — and one he cannot give me. He can fall asleep in 30 seconds or less. Literally. Me? 30, 40, 60 minutes, etc. Fortunately, he sleeps right through the craziness.)
Once I’m asleep I’m golden – I LOVE sleep when I’m actually doing it — it’s just getting there. So, that combined with knowing a family member has serious sleep apnea and chronic insomnia, I decided to take the pillow in hand and take back control. I’ve done much reading (recommend Dreamland: Adventures in Strange Science of Sleep by David Randall for an interesting take on the subject), talked to my primary care physician and recently consulted with a sleep doc. Best decision ever!
One of the things he wanted to confirm was that I do not also have sleep apnea. For that, a home sleep test.
I took the test last night: airflow hose in my nostrils and taped in place to my cheeks, a heart rate monitor clipped to my finger and CPU pack strapped to my middle. I looked like a female version of this guy. Except I was wearing PJs. And my eyes were closed. And I was wearing the cotton balls, mouth guard and Frownie, because at that point, why not?
I hope I “passed” the test and am hopeful my sleep habits will normalize more than the accessories I wear to bed.
How about you? Do you have sleep problems? How do you deal?