Let Me Sleep On It
I want a good night’s sleep. Not a drug-induced kind of sleep. Just a natural, quiet, uneventful type of slumber. You see, I love sleeping. And I can fall asleep anywhere, so insomnia is not the problem. It’s what happens after Mr. Sandman visits that I’m referring to.
Sure, when I was a child I had trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve. And the house was still pitch black when I woke up on my birthday. But that was all about excitement and anticipation. What I’m talking about are outside influences or even my own brain unsettling the depths of my REM cycle.
Cats. As a pet owner, I’ve experienced different kinds of cat personalities emerge in the middle of the night. The first I’ll classify as “meowers.” At the first sight of dawn, these cats (which are apparently part rooster) begin to incessantly meow, asking to go outside. In fact, I do believe they are actually saying the word, “Ouuuuut… Ouuuuut.”
This incredibly annoying act occurs mere inches from my face. Like a smoke detector with a dying battery, the cat’s cry is repeated over and over until I relent and open the door. If I do not respond, the cat then moves to standing on my head, quickly followed by him dancing the Meow Mix Cha-Cha-Cha (still atop my head). My children find this scenario hilarious and think we should give the cat a tiny top hat and cane to round out its feline dance routine. I do not share in this opinion, especially at 4:30 in the morning.
The second category of cats I call “nudgers.” These cats are more subtle, but perhaps even more annoying than the “meowers.” They may be silent, but like the “meowers,” they will not be ignored. “Nudgers” repeatedly make contact with you. They attempt to get under your hand so it seems like you are petting them, when in fact they are doing all the work.
If this lacks an appropriate response, the cat then turns to licking. They’ll find any exposed skin and lick it raw, until you cannot stand it anymore. Finally, the cat will go nose-to-nose with you, still not making a sound, willing you awake. All these acts may seem like signs of affection, but they are not. These cats are really just trying to get your lazy, tired self out of bed. Passive-aggressive felines.
By the way, you’re probably wondering why I don’t just put my cat outside (a la Fred Flintstone) prior to going to bed. Believe me, if I could find the darn thing, I would. Cats are smart. They know how to make themselves scarce, making me miss my window of opportunity for a good night of sleep.
Children. When my children were infants we had a baby monitor in our room. Naturally, we never got a full night of sleep. One night we heard our son crying through the monitor and my husband got up so I could sleep. The crying went on and on as my husband aimlessly stumbled around our room. I finally asked him what he was doing. He said, “I can hear the baby, but I can’t find him!” In his sleep-deprived exhaustion, my husband thought our son was a screaming box with one red glowing eye, rather than a baby in the crib downstairs.
Though I mock my husband about that night, it very well could have been me. Besides, I appreciate the fact that I am not alone in my disrupted sleep.
Nightmares. My children feel the need to report in when they have bad dreams. I used to think the best way to handle this was to sing them a song, give them a hug, and listen to them tell me about the dream. Turns out I was wrong. They actually just want me to know that they had trouble sleeping. Sort of like Insomnia Tag — “I woke up, and now you’re awake. I’m going back to sleep but you can’t. Tag, you’re it!”
The Spouse. Besides being a snorer, my husband talks in his sleep. Once he had to share a bed with a male co-worker (a long story unto itself). He ended up grabbing the co-worker’s shoulders from behind asking threateningly “Have you ever seen the southern coast of Alabama?” Then he kneed the guy in the small of his back.
Fortunately, I have never been subjected to such a physical altercation. I’ve mainly been awoken by incoherent ramblings. My favorite quote is, “Okay, everybody, get your cameras ready! Yee-haw!” I love to imagine what he was dreaming of at the time. I’m certain it must involve some mechanical bull. Possibly even some spurs.
Myself. I cannot fault everyone else for my restless nights. I know that sometimes I am my own biggest problem. My dreams are just way too realistic. Work dreams are the worst. I’ll put in an eight hour day at the office — while sleeping. Then the alarm goes off and I have to do it all over again. The injustice is overwhelming.
When I waited tables, I often had restaurant dreams. They were always the same. I would literally sit up in bed and try to hand plates of nachos to customers. In reality, these serving plates were some heavy suckers; when the imaginary customers did not take my phantom plate, it was extremely frustrating. Eventually I would catch on that I was in my own bed, reaching out to thin air and I would collapse back on the bed, utterly exhausted.
While I have been involved in musical theater for years, I have never experienced the actor’s nightmare of being on stage with no idea what my lines are. Instead, I have “audition” dreams. Usually these involve me in the audition room, not being able to find my sheet music for the accompanist. I frantically search for the music (which I had just moments earlier), as the annoyed director and producer give each other the look that says, “NEXT!”
One night during an “audition dream” I handed over my performing resume, and asked if they wanted to see me tap dance. “We just need to know how fast you can flip burgers,” they replied. Really? Isn’t it hard enough to be rejected in real life? Why must it happen in my sleep, too?
Okay, I’m yawning now. Where’s that darn cat? I want to get to bed.