If you’ve read this blog or my other blog for any length of time, you’ll know that sleep is something I often struggle with. I have a hamster wheel in my head that doesn’t turn off easily just because I lie down at night. Most of the time what I’m thinking about isn’t anything bad or worrisome (though sometimes it is), it’s just thinking…about recipes, about blog posts, about what I would do if I won the lottery, about what I forgot to do that day and what I want to get done the next day. We all do that to some extent, but my wheel is really a perpetual motion machine and it’s nearly impossible these days to get it to slow down long enough to let me get some significant rest. Add that to swapping out work/living schedules every four days and you’ve got a great formula for instant zombie…just add insomnia.
The good news is, I think I may have found a partial cure, at least for the days that I work, which is really critical, since I have to be more than just semi-coherent, or I could make a bad mistake (more on that in another post. Or not.). A couple of months ago, our cross-corner neighbors had a garage sale in anticipation of moving. They’d had one once before and we picked up a couple of things there, so we decided to check it out again. This time, they were selling an XXL army cot. I didn’t even know they made XXL army cots! Thinking that this might make a nice extra bed if E. ever had someone to sleep over, we negotiated and got it for $40.00 including a carrying case. Of course, it promptly went into the garage, and nobody came to sleep over. But it was there.
Several weekends ago, after struggling with trying to find bed space at 5 am when dogs have spread out like patients etherized upon a table, and then waking up and wanting to go out, I was wracking my brains trying to figure out a way that I could get some sleep without putting the rest of the household in a tailspin. I remembered the cot. I thought it might just fit into my tiny meditation room, which is usually cool, dark and quiet even in the summer time. It has a window, but also one of those old-fashioned light blocking shades, so when I pull it down, the room is really dark, since it faces the north side of the house and doesn’t get any direct sun.
I waited for a day when everyone was out of the house. I wanted to struggle with this on my own. First, I had to find where G had put the cot, not always easy, but fortunately I found it in only the second place I looked. It was a little heavier than I remembered and the carrying case was sort of ripped at the bottom, so the two stabilizing bars kept falling out, but pretty quickly I got it down into my meditation room. Now, if you clicked on the link above, you’ll see that this thing is BIG. Converting the measurements, it takes up something like 23 square FEET. I mean, there are people in this world who live full time in that much space. I was really hoping I would even be able to unfold it in my tiny meditation room.
It opened easily and the basic set up was done. It fit! The top end was right up against the bookcase and the opposite end had about an inch between it and the wall, and if I pushed it toward the low coffee table under the window, I had JUST enough room to stand up and be able to change clothes, etc. between the cot and my large altar/storage cabinet on the opposite wall. Yes! So far so good.
Then, I had to get the end pieces in. I managed the first one, and the first peg of the second one and then I hit the wall. There was no way I was going to get that fourth peg in, especially in that tiny room. So, I tipped the cot over and managed to get it out into the main room where I had more space to maneuver. Still no go. I simply did not have the strength to pull or shove or push that bar down over the metal peg. I was stumped. And I was wary of even sitting on the cot without those bars. I sure didn’t want it collapsing underneath me, even though it’s only a couple of feet off the ground. I’m having enough back/hip problems as it is.
Then it hit me. The go-to place for instructions on all things. YouTube! Yes, folks, there is a YouTube video about how to set up this cot. The trick? Get a hammer handle or something equally sturdy and use it as a lever to wedge that final peg in place. On more short trip to the garage and my bed was set! Tipping it back over, I carefully eased it back into the room and lo and behold…I had a bed. I. Was. Thrilled. I dragged out my sleeping back and put in on the cot in place of a pad. Then a spread out a light cotton blanket and a comforter (duvet) that we don’t use much any more and I was ready to sleep.
That was several Fridays ago, which is my work week Monday. That night after the end of my shift, I took a melatonin, got into the room with the help of the light from my phone, put my eye shages on and got horizontal. The cot held me nicely, didn’t creak too much, and I lay quietly, trying to clear my mind and allow sleep to come. It came slowly, in increments, but I felt it. I tried to remain conscious of the process, even as I wanted to become unconsious. It’s very interesting, paying close attention as you fall asleep. You feel it approach and then it really sneaks up on you quickly. The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and stretched. I felt quite rested. The room was still cool and quiet. If anyone was doing anything upstairs, I couldn’t hear them. I eased myself off the cot, got presentable and went upstairs to find a clock.
It was 11:30. I had slept for nearly six and a half hours! I haven’t slept that long in a row in years. I felt GREAT. Rested and, what was really surprising, well fed. I know there is a correlation between insomnia and eating–that the body tends to confuse being chronically tired with being chronically hungry. I get that. When I’m sleep deprived, I feel hung over, so it makes total sense that the body would try to make up for lack of rest with too much food. That day and the next (I slept nearly 6 hours the following night), I really wasn’t hungry at all. It was kind of amazing. I was thrilled that I seemed to have found an answer to my sleep situation.
So now, a few weeks later, I’m still sleeping on the cot on my work nights. I’ve left it up because it is kind of a struggle to move it in that small space. I miss my meditation room, though, which is entirely taken up by the bed. I’m thinking of taking it down on my days off. I have yet to sleep another six and half hour night. Four in a row is about what I get on the nights that I work. I try to make up the difference with naps here and there, but since E. started summer weight training for football, he has to be at practice at 7 a.m. three days a week, so I’ve been staying up to take, and waiting there at the high school to minimize trips. I’m going to start walking around the track while I wait since it’s cool enough in the early morning. I did that last week and it was nice. Got a mile under my belt and could have done another. Then I come home and try to sleep for a while. I think that might work better. Everything is a work in progress, and maybe I’ll get this sleeping thing down. I know all the experts say people should sleep at least 8 hours a day, but I never have done that, so I doubt I’ll start now. I’m just happy to have a quiet place to rest that doesn’t interfere with everyone else in the house.