In her new book, Sandra Tsing Loh takes on menopause, and the new unwritten rules on dealing with it.
Bland: The Blessing Of Insomnia
We’ve all had one of those unfortunate sleepless nights at one time or another. But for commentator Karina Bland, insomnia is actually becoming a part of her routine. And she’d discovering that maybe it’s not so bad after all.
I'll try any time-saving tip that could give me precious extra minutes in my day. Yet no matter that I lay out my clothes the night before, pay bills online and cook in big batches, I still seem to find myself putting on my makeup in the parking garage before work in the mornings.
I've fantasized about freezing time.
I've dreamed of having extra hours in my day.
I could read, go to the gym or actually try on clothes before buying them.
But then my dream came true. I found a few rare, empty hours. Unfortunately, they come in the middle of the night.
A few times a week for months now, I have found myself lying wide awake in bed in the wee hours when everyone else is asleep. Well, not everyone.
On Facebook at 3 a.m., I invariably find a friend about my age who also is awake, checking her Farmville crops or half-heartedly taking the "What Famous Literary Character Are You?" quiz, and she'll be up for a chat.
By then, it’s almost 4:30 a.m. There's no point in going back to bed because my alarm will go off in an hour. So I read on the Internet that about 59 percent of women ages 35 to 55 won't get much sleep during peri-menopause. Researchers say this group of women is more likely to experience insomnia than any other.
I say we should all meet at IHOP at 3 a.m. for pancakes and coffee.
I don't have trouble falling asleep.
But a few hours later, I'm awake. Wide awake and I have to pee. So I grope my way to the bathroom with my eyes closed, stumbling over flip-flops on the floor, leaving the light off in hopes of convincing my brain that we're really NOT ready to get up.
But as soon as I climb back in bed, my mind is swirling with things that didn't get crossed off my to-do list.
I look at the glowing red numbers on the alarm clock. It's 3:12 a.m.
I slow my breathing. In through my nose, out through my mouth. 3:15, 3:16.
I try counting sheep. 3:20, 3:21.
And then my foot cramps, pulling me up off the pillow, and I throw off the covers and stand pressing my gnarled toes against the cool tile to uncurl them. 3:45, and I'm up.
This nocturnal foot cramp is becoming a regular thing. I have to increase my potassium intake. Bananas, I think. I hobble into the kitchen and add bananas to the grocery list on the counter. And because I'm in here, I pull open the refrigerator.
There in the glow of the open refrigerator door, I realize my teenager will have no chance of sneaking out, not with his mom in the kitchen scarfing leftover pork chops.
My mantra used to be, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," because there were so many fun things to do and places to go.
But now I feel dead. And I'm beginning to look it, with dark circles appearing under my eyes. It's not age giving me these bags; it's a lack of sleep.
So now I go to bed earlier, watching only half of the 10 p.m. news. I'm sucking on melatonin tablets and taking warm baths.
Rather than lie there and worry, or get frustrated, I've started embracing these empty hours.
One night, I cleaned the bathroom while I was in there. In the morning, it was like the Cleaning Fairy had come, except that my pajamas smelled like Scrubbing Bubbles.
In the darkness, I can see the outline of a pile of boxes filled with photos just waiting for someone with the time to sort through them and put them in albums.
I'll get to them after I finish this pork chop. That is, unless someone wants to meet me at IHOP.