I am not, by nature, a competitive person. If I even so much as win at a game of Scrabble, my inclination is to leap over the board, hug the loser, and say “sorry.” Yet, each morning, upon opening my eyes, I find myself engaged in a verbal duel.
I’m not exactly sure when this all began. Perhaps it started on that critical birthday. The one when my bladder decided to stop cooperating with my need for hydration, and instead taunt me during the night in two-hour intervals. Which I think is very spiteful.
I’m reminded of my former dogs. When they were old, I had to remove their water bowls no later than 5:00 PM to prevent them from awakening after bedtime and having to go outside to pee. At least I don’t have to go outside, but I’m definitely considering rolling back happy hour.
What is referred to as “a good night’s sleep” has become elusive. As it has for my husband, who swears he hasn’t slept through the night since he was 10 months old. His parents are deceased so I cannot confirm or deny this report, but I do know that another factor in my sleepus interruptus is the glow of his iPad at some ungodly hour.
As a result of this pernicious insomnia, we have become quite competitive, constantly challenging each other as to who has had the worst night. A typical morning conversation might go something like this:
“How did you sleep?”
“Yeah, well, I slept worse.”
“I woke at 3:00 am and haven’t been to sleep since.”
“Yeah, well, I woke at 2:50.”
“No you didn’t. I saw you. You were sound asleep.”
“I was just pretending.”
“So how come you were snoring?”
“I had to go to the bathroom three times.”
“I had to go four.”
“Yeah, well, I had leg cramps.”
“I know. I heard you marching around the bedroom.”
“No you didn’t. You were sleeping.”
The verbal jousting is halted by the current dog, who is covering his ears, and our need for coffee. This requires one of us leaving the bed, usually me.
I’m quite sure that competitive not-sleeping isn’t limited to us. I believe we have entered a stage in life where sleep deprivation may very well be the new status age-related deficit, edging out other contenders, like greatest number of body part replacements, who knows the best doctors, and HDL scores.
Conversations around a dinner table often focus on the virtues and pitfalls of Ambien over Lunesta, or how spraying lavender on your pillow case is very soothing and will lull you to dreamland. I tried that. I wound up with a damp pillow case and an allergy attack.
And don’t ever complain to a friend that you’re tired all the time because you average only four hours of sleep. Sympathy will not be forthcoming, but rather, “you think that’s bad, I never sleep.”
As for me, I’m tired, and would like to withdraw from the game. I’d gladly relinquish the gold medal in exchange for a few nights of sound, solid, restful sleep.
And when my husband laments in the morning about how bad the night was, I would gently pat his hand, commiserate, and try my best to refrain from gloating. After all, I’m not a competitive person.