Friday, September 29, 2000

The Raveled Sleeve of Care

This seems to be a good time to talk about sleep. It's about 2:30 a.m. and I'm sitting in a house perched on the side of a hillside somewhere in Los Angeles. I have a cat and a laptop on my lap, Jay Leno is droning on in the background, and our hostess is snoring softly.

Peggy and I left Davis around 10 a.m. this morning. I was a bit worried about the drive down here, since I'd had only 2 hours of sleep the night before and wasn't sure how I'd deal with 8 hours of driving. I had to go see Beauty and the Beast the previous night and write a review, as well as unpack from Tahoe, do laundry, repack for this week's trip to San Diego, get some transcription finished, etc., etc. It was a short night of sleep even by my standards. But except for about 2 hours in the middle of the 8 hr drive, when I was doing a lot of squirming and trying to keep myself awake, I did OK.

We stopped a couple of times to get out and walk around. First we stopped near a cotton field and Peggy got out to look at how cotton grows.

And then we stopped at the Harris Ranch feed lot, the smell of which dominates everything as you drive past it on I-5. Peggy was impressed with the seemingly endless mass of cattle all being fed for the slaughter.

Another stop was at a rest stop, where Peggy accosted a truck driver to ask if she could take a look around the cab of his truck, since all those big semi's we kept passing had fascinated her. She reported that the cab was quite nice, had space for two beds and a refrigerator.

We were meeting our hostess this evening at a Thai restaurant in Los Angeles at 6:30. I love it when I can start out 400 miles away and get to a place I've never been before, and arrive exactly on time, so I was a little disappointed that we were an hour early, but Merrell was half an hour early herself, so we ate earlier than anticipated. A delicious non-spicy Thai dinner with lots of laughter and conversation. Merrell and Peggy seemed to hit it off just fine.

After dinner, Merrell sped through the streets of LA to her house, with me trying to follow, and eventually ending up here. We all sat around pretending to make conversation, but really all nodding off, so finally at 8:30 we all went to bed. I can't remember the last time I was in bed-- and asleep--so early. But of course 1:30 came and I was wide awake..

I don't sleep much. I decided that it must have been all those years of getting up in the middle of the night with babies and toddlers that got me out of the habit of sleeping. I've never been one to lounge around in bed. When I'm awake, I have to be up and doing.

Part of my work involves typing psychiatric evaluations and invariably I come across some person who "suffers from insomnia" and who "can't get more than 6 hours of sleep." Heck-- THAT's insomnia??? I average 4 hours of sleep, with an occasional night of 6 which is a real "sleeping in" night for me. I seem to be functioning just fine on this average. Of course I read somewhere once that there should be a pre-sleep period, where you gradually begin relaxing, and if you fall asleep in less than 20 minutes, you're probably sleep deprived. If I toss and turn for more than 3 minutes before falling asleep, I consider that insomnia. I have no difficulty falling asleep, but I also don't fret if I wake after just a few hours. I either get up and work on the computer, or I come downstairs to the reclining chair, get a blanket, and turn on Nick at Night, which almost always helps me go back to sleep.

Of course "going downstairs to the recliner" is often not necessary because I sleep in the chair many nights anyway. If I'm working late at night and have a deadline to meet in the morning, it's easier to just get in the chair, set the timer on the stove for 2, 3, or 4 hours and sleep there, getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. to get the work done at that time. I seem to work most efficiently between 4 and 6 a.m.

But when I sleep, I sleep hard and nothing wakes me. In the middle of writing this entry, I decided to see if I could get a bit more sleep, and fell back to sleep around 3 a.m., waking at 6:30. By the time I woke up, Merrell was gone and I hadn't even heard her leave, though she made coffee, fed the cat, and let herself out all within feet of where I was dozing on the couch. Peggy awoke and reported that my snoring had kept her awake. It may be a long week for her, since from here on we will be sharing a motel room.

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