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What’s Your Bedtime?

It’s five minutes to 6 a.m. and I’m wide awake. Morning person? Somewhere to be at 8? No. I’ve been awake all night. Despite 10 milligrams of Ambien, 1 milligram of Xanax, 3 milligrams of Melatonin, and two capsules of Valerian Root, I’ve been awake all night. Oh, and two Vicodin tabs. I ran out of things to read around 3 a.m., and TV had slim pickings by 4 a.m., so I’ve been watching my DVD of the first season of Grey’s Anatomy. I had forgotten how much fun that first season was. Interesting cases and of course, the beginning of Meredith and Derrick’s romance. I’ve watched it four or five times this week, since my son chose one of Meredith’s monologues to do at an open call for child actors in two weeks.

When I was in my twenties, being up all night wasn’t a problem. I worked nights—7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. three nights a week plus any overtime. All of my friends worked night shift and so did all my boyfriends. It wasn’t unusual for my best friend Marie to call me at 3 a.m. When I married my husband, I was once again a night shift worker and so was he, so for the first year of our marriage, we both spent our nights off awake, doing those things new lovers do. We’d go out to a local diner for breakfast at 6 a.m. and then crash around 9 a.m.

I’ve had problems with insomnia off and on for years. When I was a trauma RN, I once stayed up for seventy-two hours. I was driving home from visiting my brother’s family, finally feeling a bit sleepy and a kid pulled out in front of me in traffic, heightening my senses again. I screamed a lot of obscenities at him and was awake another eight hours.

When I first lived in Florida, I was a day-shift person and would get up at 5:15 a.m. to get on the road to work an hour away. Then I was a Visiting Nurse, and worked eight-hour day shifts. Both times I had no problem getting to sleep at night. After my son was born, I was grateful for any night’s sleep, but was up at 7 a.m. every morning. I did those things normal daytime people do—got the paper in, read it over coffee and breakfast, then got a shower, and went to work. Maybe what’s changed most is I no longer go to work. I’ve been on Social Security Disability since 1999 and now I am a stay-at-home mom of a ten-year-old. 

I’ve tried all the sleeping medications there are on the market. I’ve taken Ambien for about twelve years now and I honestly don’t think it helps at all. I tried Valarian Root after reading about it online, and checking with my doctor to be sure it wouldn’t interfere with any of my other medications. I added melatonin, even though it’s forbidden for autoimmune disease patients, which include me. It seems to help, usually, but now, every couple of weeks or so, I can’t sleep for anything. I’m active during the day; I got to water Physical Therapy four or five times a week. I make dinner for my family. I do wash and ironing. I have to pace myself or I get overwhelming fatigue, thanks to my fibromyalgia kicking up.

Caffeine seems to be the culprit, I’ve decided. We drink coffee that’s half decaf and I drink caffeine-free diet Pepsi and usually, decaffeinated iced tea. But I bought a jug of Arizona iced tea at the store during our last shopping trip and I’ve been drinking that with dinner and after dinner. Could it simply be the extra caffeine?
The other thing that’s changed is that I now take my Calcium and Vitamin D tablets with my nightly medications. I should look up whether or not Calcium interferes with my menu of sleeping medications.

All I know is that I have to wake up my son at 7 a.m., and my husband will be home at 7:30 a.m. I need to go to the gym today and to the grocery store. I think I’ll be picking up some caffeine-free iced tea while I’m there. That’s if I can handle just a small nap this morning, and actually get up and be productive. I’ll know how it works if I’m still in my pjs at 3:30 p.m. when my son arrives home from school. Then I’ll just have to wait until tonight to try this sleeping thing over again. And get it right this time.

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