Glorying in Autumn With Eyes Wide Open

These are autumn’s glory days. Though the calendar says the season is waning, it seems to be in full performance mode in our backyard, which would be right at home on the campus of Harvard with its carpet of crimson and gold. Today was the first day in quite a few that we’ve had the benefit of any sunshine, and you all know there is nothing quite as spectacular as a November sun high in the azure sky, spotlighting nature’s own extraordinary palette.

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I love fall, even when it’s rainy and cold as it has been for the past week. That kind of weather invites its own pleasures - while days like today call for brisk walks in the park to kick up mounds of color with every step, the rainy days invite creature comforts like fires in the hearth, warm blankets, hot coffee and good books to pass the time.

Not matter what autumn pleasures are called for, I happily indulge in them all.

This autumn we have the added pleasure of watching Lacey prance through the leaves, the wind ruffling her silky coat, her tail happily aloft. Fall is perfect Shih Tzu weather - cool, clear, and crisp. Soon we will drive with her into our old neighborhood where there is a park with a fenced in baseball field, empty now but a perfect place for her to run off leash and free. She will come home tuckered out and sleep, sleep, sleep.

But for as much as I love this season, there are challenges in these days. A puppy requires vast amounts of energy, and my stores of that substance are not quite as robust as I believed they were. Nor does it help that I don’t sleep. For weeks now I have been waking almost every night after only two or three hours of sleep, my eyes wide open, my mind racing. I lay quietly and take deep breaths - count in 1-2-3-4, breathe out 5-6-7-8. Sometimes, rarely, that will work and my eyes will close.

More often than not I get up, tiptoe downstairs trying not to wake the puppy. I make toast. I drink warm water. I heat the lavender scented heating pad in the microwave. If all this doesn’t provoke a yelp from the basement puppy pen, I creep back upstairs to my bed and read for a while. Sometimes this will work and my eyes will close.

Sometimes nothing works and I lie awake, agitating and cogitating until finally Lacey wakes up on her own, usually about 5:00. She goes outside and then I take her back to bed with us. She curls up in the spot on the bed Molly always favored - the left side corner by my feet -and immediately goes back to sleep. I get back in, wrap a soft blanket around my shoulders and listen to her contented little snore. Sometimes this will work and my eyes will close.

Tonight we set the clocks back for Daylight Savings Time and I will have an extra hour of this misery to cope with, a prospect that fills me with dread.

I have not slept consistently well for many years now, and I know I’m not alone. The conundrum of sleeplessness is one many women endure. I know how important sleeping is to overall physical and emotional well being. I am a walking testament to the detriments of lack of sleep. I’m irritable, my concentration is impaired, my energy levels are down. My eyelids feel perpetually heavy. I have aches and pains I’ve never had before.

What to do?

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I’ve tried melatonin in various doses, tried essential oils in various recipes, tried CBD oil which works sometimes, however, come morning I don’t feel rested but instead like I’ve partied too hard the night before.

Today I decide to buy some over the counter sleep medication because I feel I must have a couple of nights of sleep. I have taken these medications on occasion in the past. Usually they will work and my eyes will close. It’s not a long term solution, but I am feeling desperate for a complete nights worth of sleep.

Earlier this week news of a new memoir crosses by Facebook feed. Insomnia, by Marina Benjamin is purportedly a “collage of ruminations about sleeplessness.” Benjamin promises no cure for the problem, but “what she offers instead is a rare kind of companionship to “other unseen insomniacs twisting awake in their own beds … imprisoned within these solitary cells of wakefulness.”

Ah that’s me, one of those “unseen insomniacs twisting awake” in my bed, eyes wide open, mind skittering around like the last leaves being torn from the trees. I order the book, seeking solace if not a solution, grateful for any crumb of enlightenment on these frustrating nighttime sieges.

And yet despite it all, I glory in autumn because there is much to savor, even for a sleep deprived soul like me.

Sweet dreams everyone.