Tasmanian Times

Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Sleep, Interrupted


I kick the covers off; I drag them back on. I replay the day’s events in my head, not once – but over and over again. I do my best to keep my eyes closed and not peek at the clock, knowing that I will anyway… so, I do. It’s fifteen minutes later than the last time I looked at it. My husband sleeps, my cat sleeps, our dog sleeps, but not me.

The Ambien I keep for those long flights to Australia beckons from my bedside drawer like chocolate. Did someone say chocolate? God that sounds divine – but probably not a good idea at one in the morning, the last thing I need is more caffeine. I think I have to pee.

My cat, Oscar, stretches his long, fluid body, somehow managing to push me closer to the edge of the bed, but I don’t move him. He brings me comfort even though he’s so damn bossy. I reach out a hand and lay it on his tummy, in ultra feline speed he flings a paw toward my hand and I feel sharp kitty-finger nails enter my hand. I lay still, not daring to move – he releases his hold on me and I slowly pull my hand away. He goes back to sleep, I lay awake wondering if he’s drawn blood. Now I really need to pee.

I go over each drawing that my students have done during the day – each line, each curve, I wonder what music I’ll play in class tomorrow – then I sneak another peak at the clock and remind myself that it’s already tomorrow. I remember the bunny outside my class room at seven fifteen yesterday morning and wonder if he’ll be there again today… and the birds, each one with a different color splashed on his chest – they drink together from the bird bath. Okay, bladder, I hear your screams; I head for the bathroom guided by the soft glow of the moon seeping through the windows.

Back in bed, all four inches of my own space that Oscar has designated mine, I doze a little before another wave of intense heat radiates from the core of my body. My feet are on fire; I toss the covers off again and reveal the soles of my feet to the soft air that twists around the room from the ceiling fan. My husband stirs, Oscar sleeps, Dokie the dog snores and in the distance coyotes yelp their canine evensong.

The merciless light of morning creeps through the darkness just as my eyelids lose their fight against exhaustion. I enter a heavy sleep – peace at last. The alarm wakes me up – my husband sleeps, Dokie sleeps, Oscar sleeps and I had two glorious hours of slumber. I turn on the shower and allow each droplet of water to waken my spirit as I consider the caffeinated latte that will seep into my cells within the next half hour. I realize now why my dad brought my mother a cup of tea in bed every morning, this was her sacred time and his time to be to her knight in shining armor.

Oscar’s meowing at the bathroom door, impatient for his breakfast, I open the door – he enters and gives me a whack with his paw before heading out the door towards his food bowl. The beans from the beanbag squeak telling me that Dokie is waking up and the turtle is splashing around in his aquarium, next the budgerigar starts chirping. They all want their breakfast.

Picking up my purse, laptop and books I head for the front door – my husband appears, he helps me to my car. I remind him to make sure our son wakes up in time to get to school. He nods, I drive. As the caffeine hits my veins my core begins to heat – I turn the air conditioning to extreme as the morning is already warm, but my body is hotter. It’s quiet when I get to work so I sit at the window and wait for my friends to arrive – first the bunny, then the birds, the kids will be here soon with stories and dreams and lines to draw.

Perhaps tonight will be the night that presents me with something more than two hours of unbroken sleep, the incessant need to pee, or feel my body go from warm, to hot, to on fire. Maybe other women out there who have disjointed sleep patterns similar to mine might want to start a midnight hiking club. We could yelp with the coyotes, howl at the moon, then return to our beds exhausted, where sleep would become our friend. One can only dream…

© www.mandyjacksonbeverly.com

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  1. Mandy Jackson-Beverly

    September 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Oh, how true, Bonnie & cold feet, that’s wild 🙂

  2. John Wade

    September 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    “…if I am concentrating on thinking ‘no thought’ I am thinking of NOT thinking!!!!!”, which is mountains more valuable than thinking invasive, pervasive, cyclic nothings. The act of concentration is the key to the secret, because once one has control they are IN control.

    Men have mid-life crises as well.

  3. Bonni Hall

    September 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Re #7. Oh, the dieting in the evening and the breathing, I find, comes quite naturally, it is the concentrating on ‘no thought’ that is so difficult. Anyway, to be really picky, if I am concentrating on thinking ‘no thought’ I am thinking of NOT thinking!!!!!

  4. Mandy Jackson-Beverly

    September 19, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Okay – so the word/cause is menopause – there, I said it – to say ‘just do it’ and be done with it (which would be great) doesn’t work for me. But I do choose to get things done in the evenings; I write mainly. I feel great empathy for all those women who deal with this night after night – it is extremely frustrating. Howling at the moon helps 🙂

  5. John Wade

    September 19, 2012 at 12:01 am

    It is easy #6, like Telly Savalas said “just do it”. Just do it!

  6. Bonni Hall

    September 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Yes #4. Sounds really easy! But, trouble is, it is not! I am with Maddie and Mandy except for the burning feet. Mine are so cold that I have to wear bed socks! Gotta be different!

  7. Maddie

    September 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Mandy at #3: I don’t know – and, from my experience, NOBODY knows. John at #4: Yes, I’ve done that, nothing to eat or drink after 7PM, off to bed – try concentrating “on the breath” (and I know how to do that and it works when I go to yoga DURING THE DAY) BUT…. not at night. Actually, I honestly think that unless you experience it, you can’t understand what it’s like. Maybe I should be living in the northern hemisphere? Maybe you’ll have to move too Mandy LOL. At my age I’m comforted by the thought that I probably only have 10 – 15 years more to put up with it before the BIG sleep. Oooooh bliss.

  8. John Wade

    September 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    The recommendations are for diet in the evening and the practice of breathing and concentrating on ‘no thoughts’.

  9. Mandy Jackson-Beverly

    September 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Maddie – yes, how the hell do our feet know that it’s night time? I’ve taken to having a Japanese fan attached to my body at all times, even while sleeping. I’ve done bio-identical hormones and they helped for a while, and the homeopathic stuff, and exercising like a madwoman and meditating like a monk – but basically my body, mind and whatever else can out smart all that crap. What to do, what to do, what to do…

  10. Redneck Ecologist

    September 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Ever seen the movie Fight Club? Proof that insomnia shouldn’t stop you from achieving…

  11. Maddie

    September 18, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Oh Mandy, you’re describing my night struggles perfectly – awful! The only time I manage to get 4 straight hours sleep is by taking a pill and then the following day I’m walking around in a fog. It’s something I just have to do occasionally though to experience the sheer bliss of drifting off instead of the wretched analysis of everything that has happened during the day over and over then I’m picking up bits and pieces of the past, then back to the present and what I need to do tomorrow. It drives me insane! My feet are on fire within minutes of lying down too and I simply don’t understand it as I sometimes have a nap during the day because I feel totally wasted and sometimes I sleep, sometimes not, but my feet don’t burn. How the hell do they know it’s day time? Doctors can’t help and talk about “sleep hygiene”. Have followed instructions re the lead up to hitting the sack but makes no difference. It’s not as if I’m not tired (far from it). As soon as my head hits the pillow, the brain starts churning up all this rubbish. Might try sleeping in an upright position. Anyway, if it’s any consolation, you aren’t on your own with this God awful problem.

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