More on Sleep (or Lack thereof)

“Getting any sleep?”

This seems to be the question of choice that well-meaning strangers, family members, and friends all ask me. I guess Americans enjoy talking about sleep and in our culture we equate babies with sleepless nights. Plus I’m practically holding up a sign with the dark circles under my eyes and my mussed hair: SLEEPLESS LADY.

Usually it’s not the baby’s fault. Four-month-old Baby Leone does what a baby needs to do: wakes up at night to nurse or to use the potty or to let me know that her diaper’s wet. Then she goes right back to sleep (unless she decides, at 4:00 a.m., that it’s time to party. But that’s only happened a couple of times in the past month). If she doesn’t settle down right away, I put her on my chest belly to belly and let her suck on my pinkie finger and she falls asleep almost instantly, her ear pressed against my heart.

That’s when I wake up. My mind comes alive in the dark. My mind makes it clear to me that there’s so much to obsess over and tries to make up for the lost time during the day not spent worrying.

Me: Stop that. There’s nothing you can do about the unpaid property taxes, following up on Etani’s eye examination, or Jim, Sr.’s cancer right now. Elie’s home from the hospital and you don’t have to fret about her either. You need to sleep in order to be clear headed for the big project with the fast approaching deadline. Breathe.

My Mind: Unpaid bills, vision therapy, cancer, open-heart surgery, deadlines, ha ha! [add sinister laughter here]. And they’ll be no sleep for you either when you’re traveling in April to Chicago and New York City with the baby. Ha ha ha!

Me: I’ll try that trick of subtracting backwards from 100 by 7s that a reader suggested. That often works. One hundred minus seven is 93…

My Mind: James leaves Thursday and you forgot to call the babysitter. You’ll never get those articles written! You have those books on kids and safety waiting at the library, you didn’t talk to your mom on her birthday, your brother’s going to Mali without you, Illiasou’s getting married and you won’t be there…

I wish I knew where the OFF switch was.

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18 thoughts on “More on Sleep (or Lack thereof)”

  1. My yoga instructor calls this “monkey mind.” I have it in spades, typically between 2 am and 4 am. Sometimes I imagine unscrewing the top of my head and placing my noodle in a bowl next to the bed. That way it can keep worrying, and I can sleep. :o)

  2. Hey, you read my mind. Last night the scenario went like this–did I lock the front door? I did, didn’t I? Should I get out of bed and check? No, that’d be cold? Oh yeah, what about those library books, aren’t they due tomorrow? And I don’t even have the excuse of a new baby to explain my sleeplessness.
    .-= MyKidsEatSquid´s last blog ..Olympic Gold Medal Cookies

  3. At least sweet little Leone isn’t responsible for your lack of sleep. I liked the image of her deciding to party in the middle of the night. Glad she doesn’t do it too often. Could you exchange some promotional copy for a few massages at a local massage parlor? That’s what a writer in town did with the dentist to get dental work done. Caregivers need to remember to take care of themselves …
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..When An Innkeeper Makes Exception to the Rule =-.

  4. Oh, I’m sorry you are experiencing this! So nursing doesn’t help you drift off to sleep? This tells me you have so much on your mind that it just supersedes the lovely nursing hormones that are supposed to be doing their job to keep you relaxed. Hang in there.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Goodbyes are hard =-.

  5. Wish I could help, but this happens to me alot lately. Probably because my dad complained about insomnia and I wasn’t sympathetic. (That always bites me.) My mind doesn’t turn off easily (a friend once declared me meditation-proof). My sympathies.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..A Week of Free Rosetta Irish Lessons =-.

  6. Having grown children, I no longer can blame them for my middle of the night anxious awakenings. Now that I don’t nurse, I take a little Atavan every once in a while for a great night’s sleep. You have that to look forward to!

  7. As Judy notes, above, I can’t blame my sleepless nights on my child anymore. He’s grown and on his own in Chicago. But I can worry about plane flights, my aging mother, my career (is it beginning or fizzling out?), and on it goes … see what you can look forward to when the kids are grown?

    Seriously, I send you wishes for a good night’s sleep. It helps!

    .-= Cindy L.´s last blog ..Parenting advice =-.

  8. A friend just told me that taking a magnesium supplement is calming and can help a tired mom drift back to sleep after nursing. I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to.

  9. Oh insomnia. Not fun, especially when you are that sleep deprived. I went thru that too. I know you can’t do this because you are nursing, but there have been times when I’ve knocked myself out with benedryl because it seemed healthier than night after night w no sleep.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..I Want to Be the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo =-.

  10. I’m so with you, Jennifer, in knowing exactly how you feel. I go through periods where my brain does NOT shut off. I wish there was an easy answer. But hopefully this will be a temporary thing, a distant memory that you can soon leave behind! I think I was the one to suggest counting backwards by seven; it always seems to do the trick. If that stops working, why not try a more complicated math challenge? 🙂 At least you have a calm, sweet baby to hold while you try to find some sleep. That is a big comfort in itself, isn’t it?
    .-= sheryl´s last blog ..Lost Again? Blame Your Genes =-.

  11. I imagine that there’s a fishbowl in the up by the ceiling, on a little shelf in the corner and I visualize placing those worrymaking things in it, as if they were written down on slips of paper. It does help.

  12. I think of being in yoga and my mind wandering – it usually happens about halfway through the class. Teachers often say this is when it usually happens, and to gently bring the mind back to the present moment…feet on the mat, hands in prayer position, etc. Finding ways to do that in the middle of the night when anxiety hits (without pulling out the yoga mat!) have helped me fall back asleep. Mostly I focus on my breath, on the comfort of the pillow, something very present at that moment.
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..The Tough Cookie

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