Sleeping with someone can be scary.
Just last Saturday, shortly after midnight, I was on that sweet edge of oblivion, the moment of no return when you feel yourself slipping under. At that instant Widdle Baby--already sound asleep—sat bolt upright, bobbed his head sharply and let out a blood-curdling scream. Then, still sound asleep, he flopped back down into his pillow.
Every wife will understand my reaction, which was to A) Wet the bed and B) Run to the kitchen for a bread knife. I didn’t stab him, of course. I love my husband and also I’m still on probation. Just kidding, Mom!
The next morning we were groggily heading to church when Widdle asked, “Did I jump up in bed last night?”
“Did you ever,” I replied dully, inspecting my split ends. (I really do feel sorry for the people who see me at the 8:30 a.m. service.)
He smacked the steering wheel. “I remember! I dreamed I was being attacked by a gang! They had my arms and legs pinned--all I could do was head butt. So I did!”
“So brave,” I mumbled.
“It’s not funny. I was fighting for my life like Bruce Willis,” he said. “Yippie ki yay!”
Sleep scientists say the older you get, the more important it is to get quality sleep. Not more sleep, necessarily, but better sleep. The kind of deep slumber that lets you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day. Good sleep is a vital factor in functioning well.
If that’s true, Widdle and I are dysfunctional. Nonfunctional, even. In fact, we are zombies.
Some back story: I prefer sleeping single. I slept with my sister ‘til I was 12, and then snoozed alone until marriage at 26. Eleven years later I was once again blissfully solo, splayed out like a starfish in my queen-sized bed.
When Widdle Baby and I first wed, my sleeping subconscious threw a fit. I thrashed around like a gator in a death roll every night. Somehow, he dodged my elbows and stuck it out until we became compatible bedfellows.
This bliss lasted until our true colors emerged.
You see, as newlyweds I didn’t snore and he didn’t fight monsters. But today (after surgery that, ironically, improved my breathing), I gulp and gargle in my sleep. And he twists, turns, groans and punches. All. Night. Long.
Now, dreams don’t mean much to me. I’ve had the same one for 40 years: A young woman in a white dress is grating nutmeg in a darkened kitchen on a sweltering summer day. It’s a peaceful, soothing dream. But Widdle goes all Jackie Chan in REM.
Then there’s that demon, insomnia. I went through a stressful period, years ago, when I literally slept two hours a night. I know it was two hours because for the other 22 I was working, shopping, cleaning, reading, grooming the dogs, sanding and repainting cabinets, running at 4 a.m., hanging wallpaper, baking compulsively and addressing Christmas cards in June.
Finally I went to my doctor and said, “I’m not… uh, kumquats?” He looked at my sunken eyes and shaking hands and said, “Here. Take this pill 30 minutes before bedtime.” I did, and slept 13 hours.
That was in 1998, and that same pill works to this day. Or night. It’s a blessing. When I take my magic pill, I’m going to be asleep in 30 minutes.
Unless somebody starts street fighting six inches away.
Julie R. Smith, who no longer believes in beauty sleep, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.