Did you sleep well, or did you wake frequently during the night? How long did it take you to fall asleep? Studies have found that older people often take longer to fall asleep and wake more frequently during the night. There are all sorts of answers out there—it’s a change in the brain, it’s not normal, oldsters need as much sleep as youngsters.
I’ve given up on the studies, but I know that I often wake during the night. Two solid hours of sleep for me is good, four hours is a bonus. I go to bed early because I get so tired, but then I wake early and know I can’t stay in bed longer. And it’s not just the siren call of the bathroom. My deepest sleep, the kind with memorable dreams, comes in the morning. And, contrary to many older people, I don’t wake up tired. I suspect that when I think I’m not sleeping, I’m really dozing.
I remember telling my mom when I was a kid, that I itched all over. “It’s a sign you’re about to go to sleep,” she’d say serenely. Wrong, Mom. I don’t itch these days, but I am often restless turning from this side to that.
The whole point of this diatribe on sleep is that I slept so well last night, went right back to sleep every time I woke up, and felt refreshed in the morning. I could have stayed in bed longer, dozing, but the home health care aide was due at 8:00 so I had to get out of bed. For a retired person, I am disappointed that often there are compelling reasons for me to get out of bed. The mornings when there aren’t and I could snooze are when I wake up unable to stay in bed longer. Go figure.
Somehow lately on Fridays I sense an approaching holiday and slack off. Today I worked some but not with the concentrated, sustained effort that is usual for me, and I distracted myself by cooking—a cucumber/avocado salad for lunch, a cheese spread for happy hour guests. And suddenly, as usual, I was terribly, overwhelmingly sleepy at two o’clock. It’s like there’s an alarm in my brain that goes off every afternoon at the same time.
When I first was recovering from surgery, I slept hard for an hour in the mornings and anywhere from one to two hours in the afternoon. I would literally fall asleep over my keyboard. Those days are gone, and I maybe sleep for 30 minutes in the afternoon—enough to banish that terrible sleepiness—and then maybe I linger for another half hour. I kind of miss those deep daytime sleeps, but recovery is so much better.
Today I am indebted to friends, as I often am: Betty did some grocery shopping for me, since Jordan and I didn’t do our weekly shopping (she was busy with the golf tournament). Tonight, Subie and Phil came to feed the dogs and take me to dinner. We ate my cobbled-together cheese spread and then went to Pacific Table for seafood. I love the Caesar salad with fried oysters. And we had a good visit. A thoroughly pleasant day.
Now I’m sleepy. And it’s not even ten o’clock yet.