Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sleep Stressed

No sleep stress at all here.  I just like pics of kids sleeping in the car.
Yep, I'm writing this after waking at quarter-to-four this morning and lying around for 20 min. trying unsuccessfully to get back to sleep.  This happens way too often, but at least I get my bank statements balanced and even write a blog post occasionally.  Why do I wake up in the middle of the night a couple times per week?  Probably stress.  I've been doing so since my college days. Sometimes I'm stressed about friends or finances; more often it's stress about the extra three hours I need each day to get my to-do list done.  This time it was a dream, and surprisingly not a boring one.  Usually it's the dreams about watering houseplants or sorting laundry that bore me awake.  Tonight, for the first--and hopefully only--time, I murdered someone with my bare hands in my dream.  It was self-defense, but still, creepy.

We are a mixed bunch of dreamers in the White house.  #5 ran upstairs two days ago to tell me about his sleepy-time adventure, which started like this: "I had a dream that the herbivores were all being hunted by the T-Rexes...".  He was pretty ecstatic when I told him that our friends had invited us to go to the dinosaur museum that day!

#1 is the infrequent sleepwalker, which is way easier to deal with than the night terrors she had as a preschooler.

#2 frequently talks in her sleep.  It's actually pretty fun to wake her up and try to decipher the gibberish that ensues.  Last week, when I was shaking her awake for an early road trip, her eyes popped open, her arm shot out of her quilt, and her rigid pointer finger gestured to the window: "Shabba eez shaw jo gray."  "What?" I asked, chuckling to myself.  She gazed confusedly around the room, trying to scrutinize what was going on.  She managed to groggily explain, "But it's still gray."  Obviously, she was pointing out to me that the noon sun wasn't blazing down through her window yet, so it must be too early for her teenage body to wake up.  I just laughed and shook her some more.  She's going to have a tough time catching the school bus in the dark this year.

#3's dreams crack me up the most.  Several months ago when Kent was telling someone about my dreams that bore me awake, which he finds amusing as most of his dreams feature him as a 007-esque action hero, #3 piped up: "I don't ever sleep long enough to get to my dreams."  "What do you mean?" I asked.  "Well, all I remember from my dreams is standing around waiting for the dream to start, but it never does because you wake me up for school before anything happens."  !!!  Those of you who know my dilatory eleven-year-old are not at all surprised at her stagnant sleep state.

This morning, after giving up on any more than five hours of snoozing, I dropped my feet over the side of the bed to head to the office and found #4 sprawled under a blanket on my floor.  Her stressful sleep, or rather, lack of sleep, has recently been caused by scary sounds that no one else can hear.  She went to bed crying four nights ago because she was too scared to be in her room.  She had slept the previous night in a cardboard box in her closet after being awakened by noises that sounded like footsteps to her.  Her over-active imagination had convinced her that someone was sneaking into the house to attack the family, so she took shelter in her dark closet, which only served to add to her fears.  She told me she had heard scary news reports on the radio and wanted to know how her dad and I would defend the family if someone broke in.  I told her I had thought about that a lot.  I actually started keeping a steel pipe under my bed a few years ago when Kent began his week-long trips with the foundation.  My preference would be a handgun in a fingerprint quick-access gun safe.  This is one of my favorite commercials, even though the sound track is a bit too dramatic:

Kent doesn't want a gun in the house, but maybe I'll pick up some pepper spray to help #4 sleep.  She and I talked about her fears and I told her I used to hear scary sounds that kept me awake as a kid, too.  I wasn't worried about intruders; my fear centered around ghosts, as I was convinced that several old homes in our neighborhood were haunted.  It took about three years before I realized that the "footsteps" I heard on the concrete floor of our basement was actually my pulse echoing in my ears.  So apparently I've been waking up at night since before college.  It probably began in second grade with our school's Christmas movie.

After our talk, #4 woke up at 2 a.m. and came straight to my bedside.  This was one of those rare times that I felt motherly empathy in the middle of the night.  I took her downstairs and we sat in silence listening for the sounds that had her nervous.  Every few minutes she would ask, "Did you hear that?!", to which I had to say that I had not.  When it was clear that she hears things I don't, I suggested that she find a book, as reading sometimes helps me drift back to sleep.  I found a flashlight for her, put her to bed, and headed for the office.  An hour later she came looking for me, saying the flashlight was keeping #2 awake.  Two hours after that, I turned in my chair (from writing a blog post--yeah!) to see her finally asleep.

Whether Kent's sleep stress is caused by trying to save the world or more mundane heroism such as providing for his family, it is taking a toll on our bed--literally.  I started noticing chips in the paint of our headboard about a year ago.  See all those little, white dots?
As with most damage in our house, I chalked it up to something the kids were doing.  One night, though, while I was lying awake at 3:00 a.m., I heard tapping noises on the headboard.  With elbows bent, Kent had his hands resting at the sides of his head.  The tips of his fingers were nervously tapping backwards against the headboard, and chipping the paint.  I've also learned that whiskers are as problematic as fingernails.  Either Kent spends too much time with his pillow, or he tosses and turns A LOT.  Just look at how his face has shredded the pillowcase.  I keep this photo as evidence for why I don't like kissing him with stubble.  Ouch!
A kid in our neighborhood posted the following on Facebook:
"It's been said that if you can't sleep it's because you're awake in someone else's dream. Girls I ask just this once that you let me sleep tonight and you can dream again tomorrow."  Ha!
If he's right, though, I just wish my hubby and kids didn't love me so much!
Sweet sleepy siblings in a nest they built one weekend.
Sleeping kids are seriously so cute!
(You're welcome, alliteration fans.)


VickieG said...

Wow, I didn't realize I had passed on my no sleeping genes to everybody. However, when I was your age and my grandchildren's age I slept really well. Now I consider it a wonderful night if I sleep straight through for 6 hours. It doesn't happen very often. What are we doing wrong today that we can't sleep? Too much mental work and not enough physical work??

Mary said...

I read an article recently that said the old recommendation for 8 to 9 hours of sleep is wrong. Most adults only need 6 to 7 hours, which seems to be true for me. It's just the 3 to 4 hours that has me beat!