Saturday, December 26, 2015


I am trying to make peace with night.

I wonder if night is generally one of the most dreaded or disliked things in the human experience. Likely. Yet for each one of us night-dreaders it is a completely personal battle. For me (at least most recently) the battle started over a month ago when breathing was particularly challenging. I had to sleep sitting up. Strike One. I took cough syrup with codeine, which left me awake (and hence miserable) several hours later, yet still several hours before dawn. Strike Two. And let's just give Strike Three to nighttime's general nightiness - no one else in the world is awake; something is wrong with you because you're awake; etc., etc.

Eventually my breathing got better. I went down from four pillows to three, from a 90-degree angle to 45. These days, in fact, I can sleep pretty much flat with one pillow, and I can turn onto my side without feeling that I'm crushing one of my lungs. Pretty great.

But, for the most part, the dread has remained. Enter Ambien. Ambien says, "Don't worry, Gina. Dread or no dread, you will fall asleep and you will probably sleep until what is considered a normal wake-up time for most of your fellow humans." A pretty good deal overall.

A few nights ago, though, something shifted. I was entering my usual dread-mode at the thought of going to bed, when a voice emerged. "Yes, Gina," it said. "Those were really awful nights of sitting up and codeine cough medicine and general nightiness, but that's over. Now you sleep lying down, and most nights you sleep until the morning."

Wow. The voice was right. I went to bed that night, trying to embrace the much-improved truth of my new reality - albeit still with Ambien.

Three nights ago, another shift. Here's the thing, when I take Ambien, I pretty much sleep through the night. When I don't take it, I often wake up at about 2:30 or 3:30 and I end up downstairs reading, maybe with a bit of dozing, but basically the night is shot. The shift: Who cares? Who cares if I'm tired the next morning or if I'm awake when other people are sleeping? I have this great opportunity to swallow one less pill!

So here we are, heading into Ambien-Free Night Number 4. Waking up several times per night. Sometimes going back to sleep; sometimes not. I certainly don't jump up and down with glee when the sun sets, but I'm trying hard not to flee continually west in an attempt to avoid the inevitable darkness.


  1. Next time you're up around 3am, know that I might be up, too, making peace with the night.

  2. 2:30am is my usual wake up time as well.... My father and his brother all were awake at that time as well..maybe we all have some undiscovered connection?

  3. after reading your January entry, I went back to December, and found this one I hadn't read yet. Gina, I so get the night time dread thing. As a child I remember waking up in the middle of the night, or else not being able to fall asleep, looking out the window of my room, and delighting in finding one or more lights lit in other buildings' windows. Now I knew for sure that I was not the only other person awake, that the responsibility of keeping the world safe was not resting on my shoulders alone, and that somewhere not so far away there was another person awake and present. I still wake up at 2:30 or 3:30 (or both) almost every night. I will be sure to send you my love!

  4. Gina, i had no idea i was in such good company in the middle of the night! I love that you are able to put into words things that I cannot but that make PERFECT sense to me. Like the term "nightiness". And all that it means. Spot on. Thank you. Keep writing. Sending you all good thoughts.