RHYS BOWEN:Unless you are like Lucy in Key West, the rest of us are suffering from a large dose of winter! Here in California it is raining and raining and blowing. It's dark and gloomy and all I'd like to do is crawl into bed and hibernate until spring!
However,one of the annoyances of my life these days is that I have trouble sleeping. I find I have a really narrow window of opportunity to fall asleep and it's right around ten o'clock. If I don't take advantage of it and fall asleep then, if I dare to stay awake to watch the rest of a show on TV, then I am still staring at the clock at 2 a:m.
And when I'm on deadline, when I'm stressed, when I'm about to take a trip I can fall asleep only to wake up in the middle of the night muttering to myself "Wait. She would never have said that!" and there I am, re-writing the chapter in my head. Or I wake having had a nightmare in which the flight is due to leave and I haven't packed my clothes or I don't know where the airport is. And then there I am, staring at the ceiling until it's dawn. I've tried hot milk, melatonin, lavender, and various other natural remedies and nothing works. Ambien works fine but I keep that for when I have crossed time zones and really need a good night's sleep. Advil PM works too, but I'm against taking any drug too frequently.
So is this something you suffer from, darling Reds? And do you have any solutions that work for you and might work for me? Please share.
HALLIE EPHRON: I love to sleep, and it's the opposite for me. If I got to sleep too early, I'm up at 2 or 3 or 4 and it takes hours to fall back to sleep, and yes I'm herding all the anxieties of the day in my head. Packing dreams? Oh boy do I have them.
I'm afraid of sleeping pills. I know too many people who are hooked on them and they make it hard to wake up.
I try not not to drink too much wine at dinner. Two glasses and I fall right to sleep and wake up two hours later. My friend Pat puts on a headset and listens to audio (never music, never a page turner), something marginally engaging but somewhat boring. I do counting things... like trying to remember all the kids in my elementary school. Or all my teachers. Or I wander around my high school in my head -- down corridors, up and down staircases, in and out exits.
RHYS: That would be a nightmare for me, Hallie. I'd be terrified I'd bump into my headmistress. Boy, was she scary and I once knocked her downstairs (not on purpose, of course)
LUCY BURDETTE: I am not a good sleeper, though I was a champion in my youth. I need to try to get to bed reading by 9, and then lights out by 10 or I suffer. I'm rarely able to nap, and I can't sleep in cars or on planes. It doesn't help to have John and Tonka snoring on either side of me (John's in bed, Tonka is not), but they are my beloved peeps so I can't change that. And the cat is an early bird and quite insistent about the rest of us getting up when he wants breakfast!
As for dreams, both John and I have what we call "sh*t" dreams. What can I say? Poop everywhere--ridiculous! And like Rhys, if I'm getting close to the end of a book, ideas start coming in the night. If I don't get up and write them down, they are gone in the am. Maybe it was only gibberish, but it feels like an awful loss...
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I don't sleep well, either. I have had restless movement syndrome since I was a kid--I've had all the clinical sleep trials, etc. (Talk about NOT fun.) So for me medication has been a godsend. I take a very low dose (comparatively) of a drug that is given to Parkinson's sufferers, and I do take Ambien sometimes but try to reserve that for really bad nights or across time zone travel. Still, I have a window (mine is about midnight) and if I don't go to sleep then, I am miserably awake until the wee hours. And it's so frustrating when you get those book ideas just when you're drifting off, and you know you have to write them down, but you also know that if you do then you're probably not going to sleep for a couple of hours!
Lucy, poop dreams! That cracks me up!
INGRID THOFT: Oh, sleep, how I love you. I tend to be a good sleeper. Some might argue I'm too good at it; in an ideal world, I could sleep nine or ten hours a night! I tend to go to bed around the same time every night, but do allow myself to sleep in on weekends. I always hear that elderly people sleep much less. That should put me around the seven hour mark--a normal amount of sleep for most people--when I'm old and gray. We always have on a sound soother that plays gentle ocean sounds. It helps to soften noise from the sirens and trucks in our downtown setting.
I do sleep poorly on occasion, but never for more than a few nights. I can relate to Hallie's packing dreams. I have those in spades with all kinds of nifty variations. It's almost like a writing prompt: You have a small suitcase, a room full of stuff, and the clock is ticking. What happens next?
HALLIE: And where are the children?! That's always the question in mine.
JENN: Ah, sleep. It's lovely, although I only clock in about five or six hours per night. That seems to be all I need and I can't make myself sleep any longer. I go to bed about midnight, and it's like hitting a light switch. Snap. I am out. I don't dream, well, maybe once a year and then it's a weird recurring dream where I'm ironing an outfit for my first day of work at the library and I'm freaking out because I'm already late, yet I can't stop ironing. I don't wear clothes that require ironing, generally speaking. So, weird, right? I'm also a very deep sleeper. The only thing that wakes me is a sniffle or a cough from my sons' rooms. Otherwise, thunderstorms can roll, neighbors can have loud parties, etc. I sleep through all of it. Okay, right now, I'm a little tired. Oh, and I do take the occasional power nap. Fifteen minutes of being completely out and I'm good to go!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I get in bed, and wham: Asleep. I love to sleep. LOVE. I dream all the time, very elaborate colorful and complicated, and sometimes blazingly hit you over the head obvious with their not-so-hidden meaning. Like: had a dream where I was shown my new "house." At the entrance, I was so disappointed, it was not--pretty. But as I went deeper and deeper into the house, it got more and more wonderful, until the last rooms which were fantastic. I said to the person (Who?) "Oh, this is much better. This should be the first room you see." And the person (who? no idea) said "No--you have to go on the journey to get to the good part."
But as for sleep inducers--if I ever have trouble drifting off, I try to think about being somewhere. LIke on an island, watching the birds fly over. Just watching the birds, then another one, then another one. Just...flying. OR I have an imaginary conversation with someone. If I say this, what will she say? And then what will I say? (Maybe that's SO boring that I just fall asleep. :-) ) Or-- try thinking about--floating. Just floating.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I had a lot of trouble sleeping when I was going through menopause, but now I'm post-, I do pretty well. My problems are mostly environmental - Ross snores AND has restless leg syndrome (Debs, he's finally seeing a doctor about it! I'm hoping medication will help him, too.) The dog snores - lightly - and we have a drip in the bathroom faucet that we haven't gotten fixed (because it will involve tearing out the whole WWII era plumbing.)
So I lie in bed at night listening to the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore: SNORT! snore Twitch drip SNORT! snore Twitch drip..
RHYS: How about the rest of you? Do you find it hard to sleep? Any suggestions for someone like me who was woken by the storm at four this morning and could never get back to sleep?