Sometimes I find myself sitting at my dining room table, drinking my coffee, while staring out the window like I’m in a hypnotic trance. Because I fucking am! Teenagers, Coparenting, Anxiety, Life – all of it has me offensively exhausted.
As a new parent, you hear so much about sleep deprivation. What they don’t tell you, are the cold hard truths about sleep once you hit middle age. Strap yourself in, grab some toothpicks to keep your eyes open and let’s get into how your own body and mind rob you of sleep right on the heels of the obligatory sleep deprivation that’s inherent in early parenthood.
I thought I’d sleep more as my kids got older. As if there aren’t already sleep stealers that come with raising teenagers and young adults – like worrying about them driving, stressing about grades, looming college applications, conversations about dating, sex, alcohol, drugs – your body basically becomes allergic to sleep. Like, you WANT to sleep but your body will not tolerate it.
Frankly, your body has other plans. For me, it started the exact moment I turned 40, with miscellaneous body aches and pains waking me up. After many nights of constantly interrupted sleep, I found myself googling “restless leg syndrome” and other related ailments. I became a tosser and turner. All night every night, just trying to find the sweet spot that will help induce a coma-like sleep so I can wake up somewhat well-rested. Or I would wake up with random neck and back pain simply from sleeping with my head a millimeter more to the left than it was the night before. I have been on wild goose chases for cervical pillows and other things I always thought were straight up geriatric. Jokes on me because those exact sleep aids have sparked joy.
Next comes the blanket issues. One is too heavy, one is too light and regardless of which you choose, you still need to kick a leg out every couple of hours for some fresh air. I have now resumed to a double blanket situation. From the belly button up, I have a super soft, lightweight, impossibly soft blanket.
From the waist down it’s my weighted blanket that’s supposed to get rid of all my stress, and I say a little nighttime prayer it will also address the restless leg sitch. The fact that I literally had to curate a blanket process to maximize sleep and that my girlfriends and I discuss these things with enthusiasm, should show you how wild your 40s can be.
I’d love to tell you that the blanket duo solved all my sleep issues and sent me off to a blissful slumber. But I’m not a fucking liar.
Then come the night sweats. It’s like a little nod from perimenopause popping in to introduce itself like you are at some kind of orientation. A little taste. Every morning, even though I have perfected my blanket game, I wake up like I just spent the night dancing at my old college haunt, pulling my tube top up every few seconds, until my mascara was running down my face. Just to be clear, my AC is always set to 69 to keep my room like a meat locker. It doesn’t matter. My hairline is still damp, and I have boob sweat before I even start my day. I’ve added a whole host of helpers including but not limited to, Magnesium, Melatonin, Lavender, CBD, and some supplement I saw on TikTok that I can’t even pronounce correctly.
Oh, I should also mention that in addition to all the hoops I must jump through to get some decent shuteye, I also have a bevy of sleep masks, wireless headbands that play white noise, and an array of ear plugs to mute the snoring coming from my husband and two dogs. When I was a teenager, I could sleep through Armageddon, but now I hear my AC click on and I am wide awake and filled with irrational rage.
Don’t forget the cherry on top of crippling anxiety and intrusive thoughts that are part of adulting and dance around your head wanting to party all night, coupled with waking up every day at 3:30am sharp to pee for the 57th time.
Now I know that I was blinded by naivete in my 20s that led me to convince myself I would sleep like a queen once I was in my 40s. More proof that ignorance is bliss.
Sleep tight, middle aged-queens!