I have always had trouble falling asleep. Wandering thoughts. My brain just doesn’t want to shut down. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. Some people are able to curl up in bed and fall asleep within a few minutes. They lie down, get into a comfortable position, relax, and *poof* they’re asleep! No thoughts involved, no worries, no effort at all.
I, on the other hand, lie in bed, find a comfortable position, find another comfortable position, relax, think about the events of the day, think about the plans for tomorrow, think about my plans for the weekend, find another position, play with my hair, think about the TV show I watched that evening, think about what I’m going to wear tomorrow, wonder what time it is, find another comfortable position, and sometime in the middle of thinking about how I’d redecorate the bedroom, manage to pass out for the evening. Only if I am exceedingly tired am I able to fall asleep like “a normal person.”
I remember once, when I was young, stepping into my parent’s bedroom in the late evening.
“Mom, I can’t sleep,” I whispered in the dark at her bedside.
“Go back to bed, Kylene,” she mumbled.
“But how can I fall asleep?”
“Just get back in bed and think about sleep,” she sighed. She rolled over and was asleep before I was out of the room.
I went back to bed and tried to think about sleep. I tried to clear my brain and imagine what sleep felt like. I tried to relax everything and then *will* myself to sleep. Nothing worked. I just had to lie there and wait for sleep to finally, unexpectedly come over me.
And that’s usually how it goes for me. If it’s a good night, I’ll fall asleep under 15 minutes. If it’s a middling night, I’ll be asleep in 45 minutes. If it’s a bad night, it could be an hour and a half, if I manage to sleep at all. I used to stay up through the night about once a month, but it’s down to a few times a year, now. Thankfully.
Justin falls asleep in about two minutes flat. He closes his magazine or book, switches off the light, rolls over and starts taunting me with his deep, relaxed breathing. It makes me so jealous.
Last night we curled up in bed, him with a handful of magazines, me with The Name of the Wind. We read for a while, then he ran out of articles to read and switched off his light. I finished off the chapter. I’m pretty sure he was out before I turned off the light. But he made happy, sleepy noises when I curled up next to him. And I snuggled up to his shoulder, finding that place where I fit just perfectly. And I lay there, listening to him breathe. Being just a little bit jealous. Knowing that it was going to be a while before I managed to fall asleep. Knowing that if I got out of bed and took my book into the living room, I probably wouldn’t get any sleep at all.
So I sighed and curled up closer to him. And I thought about my day and I thought about our plans for the weekend and I thought about floor plans for places we’d look at online. And I thought about sleep. And I relaxed my head against his shoulder, hoping that maybe, if I could get close enough, some of his sleep would rub off onto me. He’s so soundly asleep, I thought, it must drop off from him like rain off a plucked flower. If I could just get some of that, I’ll be asleep in no time.
After a little while, I realized that if I were to roll onto my other side, I’d fall asleep much more quickly. This is usually the case and I know that I fall asleep better if I’m lying on my left side. But wanting to sleep and wanting to snuggle with Justin come into a conflict there. So I stayed facing him for as long as I could. It’s like an itch, wanting to move, but not doing it yet. I hold onto it as long as I can, sometimes, but after a while, I just can’t handle it any longer. I have to move.
So I started to turn and realized that Justin had trapped my legs. They were completely pinned under the dead weight of one of his legs. I shifted and struggled, trying to gently move him without waking him. He eventually moved just slightly, allowing me to escape, and I rolled to face the bathroom door. But I didn’t roll away too far. I left my back touching him. Like I usually do. Sometimes it’s a foot instead. But I try to be touching him, even though I’m facing the other direction.
I just want to be close to him, even though he’s fast asleep and doesn’t even notice it. Even if his sleep won’t rub off onto me and help me sleep more quickly. I just want to feel that he’s there, know that he’s still in bed beside me.
His breathing is reassuring to me. His deep sighs and slow inhales. When I can’t hear him breathing, I worry. I touch his back gently or watch carefully to make sure that he’s still breathing. Do all wives do this to their husbands? Do we all wake up in the night and make sure that our bedmate is still okay? Do we all lean over, check, reassure ourselves, before settling back in to sleep? Why are we so afraid, especially in the dark of night, to wake up and discover the worst?
Don’t leave us, I think we’re saying. Please don’t leave me here all alone. Don’t go without telling me. Don’t make me wake up by myself. Don’t let me wake up to find that you’re here, but gone. I don’t want to be alone. Please don’t leave me all alone.