I used to sleep through the night. Well, as much as “through the night” meant.
When I was younger, I only required four to five hours of sleep a night. That would have been in my 20’s when night-clubbing in San Diego was key to my existence. I was living along the coastline (Encinitas, Del Mar, Pacific Beach) and kept a busy social calendar. Margaritas and dancing the night away or hanging out on the beach at some beach party or having cocktails on the deck of some beachfront bar.
I would blast into my beach apartment around 2:30 a.m., sleep until 6, pop out of bed getting ready for work and head out the door. Feeling fatigued never entered my consciousness .
In my 30’s, sleep gradually crept up to six to seven hours a night of sleep. One day I realized how good I felt and when I assessed what was different I realized I was sleeping more. That then created the battle in my head of ‘oh my god, I’m getting old.’ I fought the added hours and tried to go back to four to five just to prove a point but it just wasn’t worth it - although I did lie for a long time and say I only needed four to five hours because I thought it made me seem invincible. Dumb.
When I was 34 I had Auburn Aries. At that point I’d have given anything I owned for four to five hours of sleep. Talk about fragmented. Eventually though it levels out in a few years you get back to a full night’s sleep. Yes, I said years. Here’s the deal once you have a baby… gone are the days of “dead to the world” sleep. You instinctively sleep lighter because you're listening for the baby.
As I entered my 40’s and she got older I embraced eight hours of sleep. I acknowledged my body’s need for a good night’s sleep and was no longer embarrassed when I said I went to bed at 10 p.m.
When Auburn Aries turned 10, Golden Boy gave us a Chihuahua puppy. Seven weeks old, 13 ounces and not potty trained. Auburn Aries is such a heavy sleeper, the training became my responsibility. So at age 44 I was getting up every couple of hours to take the puppy out. Which, by the way, took longer to walk her outside than it did for her to pee her six little droplets of pee. Damn dog.
At some point in my mid-forties and without me realizing it I began to pee in the middle of the night. Much the same way the dog was training me and not vice versa (she still needs to go out in the middle of the night – who am I to expect her to hold it if she has to go? It’s that or check the carpets non-stop), I may have trained my bladder to go as well. Take the dog out, pee before crawling back into bed.
Now even during the hours the dog is sound asleep, I STILL have to get up and pee. What the hell?! I’ve actually digressed to childhood and don’t drink beverages after 8 p.m. (or I try not to). I steer clear of caffeine. I have dreams about needing to pee and realize I really do have to go and wake up shocked at how bad I have to go. What is that?! Is there some magical switch that gets flipped once you cross into your forties?
So let me summarize my sleep habits. 10 p.m. bed, read until 10:30, sleep until around 1 a.m. when the dog wakes me to take her out, come back in pee and go back to bed, sleep until around 2:30 and pee again. Sleep until 4 and pee again. Sleep until 5:30 and wake up before the alarm with a full bladder and lay there trying to convince myself just to enjoy the last 15 minutes until the alarm goes off. Infuriated I throw back the covers, go pee, and crawl back in bed for the last 15 minutes. I should just stay out of bed at this point that last 15 minutes’ll get’cha. 15 turns into hitting the snooze twice and waking up exhausted at 6 a.m. I throw on some yoga pants and a top and drag my tired ass down the hall to my home office to login to work.
Gone are the nights of eight glorious, uninterrupted hours of sleep. Shit, gone are the days of four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sure, I can sleep in on the weekends but during the week I’m getting my ass handed to me. I’m up every two’ish hours all night long. And it’s not going to get better when Auburn Aries goes to college because guess what? I’LL STILL HAVE THE FUCKING DOG WHICH WILL PROBABLY LIVE UNTIL IT’S 18 YEARS OLD. She’s on four and a half now. Damn small dogs.
There are things I love about being in my forties. I love that fewer of the little things bother me anymore. I pick my battles and simply just let the other shit go. Being at peace and having that kind of power in your life is amazing. I love that I can get a read on a person in two seconds and be dead on. Of course that’s been a gift I’ve had most of my life but it’s rarely wrong now. I love my laugh lines because I’ve earned them. I appreciate a good conversation more than going out dancing. This chapter is good.
I have conversations with Golden Boy where talk about life. He’s in his 20’s. I am able to tell him what to expect, what to do now versus later, how to deal a given situation and look outside the box. He has the advantage of someone with more life experience to guide him. Why didn’t someone warn me about some of this getting older stuff?!
Hot Toddy and I talk about how our conversations have changed over the last almost decade. It was once boys (and girls) and getting laid. Now it’s about what prescriptions we take and how we’re starting to feel the aches and pains now we’re no longer bulletproof.
Eh, what can ya do? Maybe tonight I’ll grab an early bird special and go to bed around 8. Centrum Silver anyone?