Column: Feeling sleepy yet?

by | January 26, 2019 5:00 pm

Last Updated: January 23, 2019 at 1:33 pm

Am I the only one who turns in at 9 p.m.? Raise your warm milk if you belong to the Early to Bed Club.

I wasn’t born this way. As Jimmy Buffett sings, “These days I’m up about the time I used to go to bed.” Decades ago, I was going out at 9 p.m. Now it’s early to bed because it’s early to rise. Hitting the hay at 9 p.m. give me a solid hour of reading before nodding off.

Is there any better feeling in the world than growing increasingly sleepy while reading a good book in a soft, cozy bed? (Wine, chocolate and Brad Pitt banging on your door might come close.)

I love reading in bed, because it’s unwind time. My body knows that reading will be followed by sleep. (I don’t always remember what I read, but so it goes with sleeping pills.)

My husband, Widdle Baby, takes a nap after work, so he’s more of a night owl. We haven’t toddled off to bed at the same time in years. He’d hit the sheets at 9 p.m. if he could watch TV in our bedroom, but I can’t sleep with a TV on. Can I get an amen?

I also can’t sleep if the closet door is open, if the ceiling fan is on, if the rug next to my bed is crooked or if my mother’s earrings aren’t centered on the vanity tray on my dresser.

There also has to be a tumbler of water on the night stand—In case I dream I’m running a marathon—plus my phone with the alarm set, and a small flashlight in case I have to get up. I never actually use it, even though I get up at least once every night and stumble across the hall to my bathroom, smashing my toes on at least one doorjamb. (I don’t use the master bath attached to our bedroom; that’s Widdle’s lair. I go in there maybe twice a year to get a Band-Aid.)

When I stagger back to bed, it seems the mattress isn’t as soft, the pillows aren’t as comfy and the sheets are wrinkled and damp. Is that just me?

If sleep doesn’t resume at once, I turn on the tiny book light again, squinting in the now-harsh glare. Another trick is to grab my phone and surf the financial news. Researching the latest value of the yen, krone and Euro make my eyelids heavy in no time. (Also, this is a really good time to visit Norway.)

If I still can’t sleep, I use the old “smother myself” trick, which consists of piling five bulky pillows plus a heavy afghan on top of my prone body. This requires much pounding, draping and adjusting, but usually produces enough weighted pressure to induce sleep.

You may wonder where Widdle is during all this activity. He is sleeping the sleep of the righteous in his double-wide recliner. I’m grateful for this because he snores like a strangled moose.

Most of the time I sleep deeply and well, and in the morning wake up either freezing or sweating. It’s a nightly adventure in climate change.

An important warning: Sleep experts say you shouldn’t use your phone in bed because 1) It keeps you awake and 2) It might set the bed on fire. In fact, don’t do anything I’ve suggested above, because you may very well break a toe, smother yourself, burst into flames or get divorced.

Feeling sleepy yet?

Julie R. Smith, who’s trying to learn to nap, can be reached at



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