Old Man’s Insomnia

Awake at 2:30 this morning thanks to quarreling cats in our bed. Finally back to sleep at about 4:30 thanks to the BBC playing softly in my earbuds.

Probably the most unwelcome development of aging (at least for me so far ) has been the inability to sleep through the night on at least one or two days per week. Most of the time, it has nothing to do with going to the bathroom or a breathing issue. I just wake up.

Typically, this happens at about 4:30. If my mind begins to wander into the theater showing the playback reel of my life, I can count on another two hours of frustrated attempts to nod off. More often than not, however I simply get up. This, of course, has its advantages. No one would ever call me an early bird, but the extra time awake does give me a chance to catch up a few things, but the rest of the day becomes a struggle. One morning this happened during a visit to my mother’s house last year. I ended up leaving for home at an unheard of five o’clock, nearly making it home before my wife left for work. The rest of the day dragged on, however.

You hear from a lot of people on the subject of aging as your age. My mother used to say that her 60s were the best years of her life. Given that she spent most of the years before as a de facto orphan, in a bad marriage, and as a poverty stricken divorcee, I completely understand her sentiments.

On the other hand, I heard from plenty of elderly who used to warn me not to get old. I wished I had listened to them. Yes, I’m “only” fifty-two, but I see the storm clouds gathering. I have lingering pains in my knees and elbows. My eyes have finally begun to fail me. Ten years after the eye doctor told me that I had “the retinas of an eighteen-year-old,” I now have a real problem reading small print up close.

And don’t get me started about the course of my career.

I used to lie awake and think about my daughter. During her infancy and toddlerhood, I merely had to think of her smiling and giggling, and it would soothe me back to slumber. Now that she’s eight and often troublesome, that time almost seems like another lifetime belonging to someone else.

Last night, I plugged in the earbuds and tuned into the BBC. Soothing, melodic British voices talking about everything from soccer scores to the invention of a new type of microscope took me away from my problems and lulled me back to sleep. I can’t say that my methods give me a “cure” for my issue, but I have another tool in the box I think.

Just don’t suggest to me that I start popping pills.