Monday, March 31, 2008

*SNORT* huh?

In the category of "knowing way more about Marin than you really need to know," let me tell you a little tale of my relationship with sleep.

I have always been a night owl. When I was seven and got a clock radio for Christmas, my parents thought it was so I could get myself up for school, allowing my mother to sleep a little later.

I put it to its proper use: listening to the radio until two or three in the morning.§

Despite this proclivity¶ for the darker hours, I don't remember having trouble sleeping. I just didn't want to. It was a *choice*.

[SUMMARY: Who says nothing good happens after midnight?]

When I turned twelve and the hormones kicked in,# I stopped sleeping. For eighteen years.

Every now and then, I'd sleep for fourteen hours on a weekend or a day off, but for the most part, I got about four hours of sleep a night.

It was miserable.

It wasn't like I was all full of energy and productive and stuff. It wasn't like those people who say, "Oh, I don't need eight hours of sleep a night. I do fine on four."

I'd lie awake, near tears, trying so hard to sleep. I tried all kind of meditation techniques and learned to read nothing but short stories, to no avail.

[SUMMARY: In which I receive kharmic payback for refusing to sleep as a child.]

When I turned, oh, 25 or so, I couldn't sleep comfortably on my waterbed anymore. One night it was fine, the next, I woke up achy and stiff.

This was the first in a series of odd, overnight changes that make me feel like a little gremlin in my body is practicing some weird, Third Reich form of behaviour modification.

I got a futon and was fine for a long time.

One day, I couldn't sleep with my neck all cranked up on my pillow, so I got one of those amoebic neck-support pillows and was fine for a long time.

An article in Cosmo told me that (among other things) once I turned 30, I should have a good mattress. So I got one.

And the second I turned 30, I started sleeping more or less like a normal human being.

[SUMMARY: You can do it, we can help.]

OK, I lied. This is where it started getting really weird.

This is where we start piling on the sorts of nightly needs that make it difficult to get our nightly needs met, if you catch my drift.

Mere days after the installation of the fabulous new mattress, I became overly-sensitive to wrinkles in the sheets and bought my first set of sheet clips. Once my sheets were taut, I was fine for a long time.

Then my pillow didn't seem thick enough or maybe it was too thin, so my parents bought me an exotic and expensive memory foam pillow for Christmas.†† I had the most luxurious, lovely night of sleep of my life and I was fine for a long time.

Trying to fall asleep months later, I realised I could feel the tufting in the mattress‡‡ and it was like I was sleeping on a rock pile. For Christmas, my dad got me a 2" memory foam mattress topper, which eliminated the holes-in-the-mattress problem and I was fine for a long time.

[SUMMARY: Simple problems, simple solutions.]

Then my shoulder, elbow and wrist started bugging me. I'd get shooting nervy things through my elbow and wrist and my shoulder ached all the time. So I bought yet another expensive pillow designed for side-sleeping and when it arrived, I could sleep happily once again and I was fine for a long time.§§

One night a couple of years ago, I realised I didn't know where to put my hands when I slept.¶¶ As soon as that thought lodged in my pea-sized brain, I couldn't find a place to put my hands. I would fall asleep with both hands up over my head and wake up with dead fingers and stiff wrists.

So I devised a system that when I switched out from the reading pillow to the sleeping pillow, I no longer just tossed the reading pillow next to the bed, I laid it next to me and rested my top hand on top of it and my bottom hand below it and no more dead fingers when I woke up. And I was fine for a long time.

[SUMMARY: Necessity is a mother.]


Over the weekend, I developed a new skill: I can make myself snore, which wakes me up.

See, the top hand has gradually moved up to where it presses into my bottom jaw, pushing my tongue into my throat, which causes me to snore (see today's title), which wakes me up.

So I put my hand back where it belongs, bent at the elbow, perpendicular to my ribs and FAR from my chin. As I fall asleep, it creeps back to my jaw, pressing the snore button just as I'm entering REM sleep.

[SUMMARY: What the hell?]

So you see, little by little I have changed bits and pieces to answer to the weirdities that suddenly cropped up in my night life.

Trust me, it's such a joy to display this apparently neurotic, ritualistic behavious to a boy I just want to boff.##

I fear the sleep gremlin has finally done something I can't remedy, and perhaps that's been his evil plan all along. After years of jumping through hoops and solving sleep problems, we have reached an impasse.

Or I may be the first person in the world to use duct tape as a sleep aid.

FOOTNOTE (crossed): "Need" being a strong word anyway.

FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Which I pulled down on my face trying to hit the snooze button when I was 15 and split my lip open, leaving the nasty little scar that makes lipstick such an arduous prospect today. Reason #27 on my list of why I don't wear makeup.

§FOOTNOTE (swerved): Top Four Favourite Songs, 1974-1975: Nadia's Theme, Wildfire, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and The Chain (mournful songs where people and horses die, set in minor keys. Early goth training.)

FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Take that, elementary school readers!

#FOOTNOTE (pounded): Which explains a lot, all the way 'round.

††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Which I left in a motel room in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and when I called to arrange to get it back, the guy treated me like I was an idiot for not just going and getting a new pillow and leaving him alone. "Pillows are like five dollars at Target. Just get another one." His respect for me did NOT grow when I explained it was a $100 pillow.

‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): You know... the button-looking dents that keep the fluffy stuff from shifting all to one place.

§§FOOTNOTE (thoughts swirling, can't sleep...): Though I couldn't read in bed on the side-sleeping pillow, so I had to use my old, expensive memory foam pillow for reading, then switch to the other for sleeping. It's caused consternation and hilarity when boys have spent the night.

¶¶FOOTNOTE (like the hands of the clock): A mental exercise not unlike suddenly being aware of your tongue. You're welcome.

##FOOTNOTE (pounded like a two ay-em valium): And not scare off. Hey! It's the lost boffs of Dr. Seuss! Alas, indeed, I would not boff. Indeed, in fact, she scared me off.

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