Sleeping Easy

Lately, I’ve been losing a lot of sleep—over sleep. I used to rest easy that my Zzz’s were fine. True, an extra hour or two in the sack would be welcomed, but I’ve functioned for years on six hours of sleep without problems. My sense of peace was shattered, though, when my husband and I each got one of those little devices that tracks your activity level (or lack there of), and your sleep. 

Tracking our sleep was an after thought. Everyone knows you’re supposed to get eight hours, but c’om, some of us want to have a life, too. Apart from changing into jammies the minute you walk in the front door, it’s not possible. But these little devices are insidious, not only do they track the amount of sleep, they also track the type of sleep—light versus deep. Deep being the most restful and restorative. Apparently we cycle through phases—light and deep—about every 90 minutes throughout the night. The next morning the device displays in graph form your night’s sleep history.

So it turns out my husband is a champion sleeper. According to the device, even though I’m in the bed longer than he is, he’s clocking not only more sleep, but lots more of the deep, restorative kind. In fact, almost all of his sleep is deep. Now that’s not normal, but it sure explains a lot—like why he is the only person I know that can, and does, sleep through a Gulf Coast hurricane.

I, on the other hand, am a total sleep slacker. While I may be in the bed for six and a half hours, my device reports that I’m only asleep for about five of those, and sleeping deeply for only about a fifth of the time, when I should be getting close to fifty percent.

As we began comparing notes each morning my anxiety level began to climb in direct proportion to the amount of sleep I’m missing, and he’s getting.  I began experiencing performance anxiety at bedtime. I mean, it’s not exactly like you can practice sleeping to perfect it. Or ask for a redo. You have to close your eyes and hope for the best.

So I finally decided to consult an expert—the Internet.

I don’t have any problem falling asleep, which turns out to be a problem. This I discovered when I took a seven-question, Internet quiz titled, Signs You Might Be Sleep Deprived. (I scored a perfect 100—something I haven’t done since Sister Josephine’s second grade spelling test.) Apparently sleep deprived individuals fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed. They also fall asleep within five minutes of watching their favorite TV show they’ve waited all day to see, or attending an Oscar winning Movie of the Year, an award-winning Broadway play or a dynamic motivational speaker. Yes, I’ve slept through the best of them. The secret is learning to do it discreetly without suffering whiplash, falling out of the chair, or embarrassing your date by snoring. It helps to have a spouse who can gingerly jab you with his elbow before you create your own scene-stealing role.

A warm bath is supposed to help you to sleep more soundly, too, and it works wonderfully—in the bathtub. Again, it helps to have a spouse who wakes you up and fishes you out before you become a waterlogged prune.

My favorite suggestion to date: sleep in a cold room. Drop the thermostatic to near zero and crawl into bed clad in your favorite fluffy socks, flannel gown and earmuffs. This works like a charm until, unfortunately, the first electric bill arrives and sticker shock triggers a series of totally sleepless nights.

One friend suggested my incessant, day-long addiction to Tazo’s K-cup Awake English Breakfast tea might have something to do with my restless, antsy nights. But no–it could not be true. No way.  Besides, I discovered a better fix: when the device’s battery died, I just decided not to replace.

Nowadays, I’m sleeping much sounder—I’m sure of it. I think.