Friday, March 30, 2012

Why Can't I Sleep In?

It's light out already? Holy crap! I have to get up. The kids I babysit are going to be here any minute!

"What time is it?" I say to my husband who has a cell phone on his side of the bed with an alarm set. We gave up a real clock in the bedroom long ago. 

He rolls over sleepily and looks at his cell phone. "6:45," he says, then drifts back to sleep like it never happened.

Whew. I've got over an hour before I need to be up and presentable. But, you  know as well as I do that I'm not getting back to sleep. Could you drift off after that?

There was a time when I would have had to set an alarm to be awake by 8:00. Now, my own internal clock tells me it's time to get up somewhere in the 6:00 to 6:45 range.

Why can't I sleep in anymore?

The obvious answer is that I have three kids. But, today, they were still sound asleep when I panicked about oversleeping. The truth is, I'm usually the one who wakes up first. Most days, I'm awake before the 6:15 alarm goes off. I wait for the alarm to tell me that it is, in fact, time to roll out of bed and start getting the kids ready for school.

On the weekends, when there's no alarm, I still wake up in the same time frame, regardless of how much or how little sleep I've had the night before. That really hurts when insomnia has been playing it's cruel tricks on me. It doesn't happen very often, but every now and again, I wake up in the middle of the night, just to be tormented by sleeplessness for a few hours.

My early-bird nature didn't become apparent until I had my second child. My oldest and I used to sleep in until 9:00 or so on most days when he was little. I remember when he started preschool at age four. I had no idea how we were going to be up and out of the house to have him there by 9:00. Somehow, we did it. Now I'm usually up, showered and have half my daily chores done by 9:00.

Maybe sleeping in is a luxury of youth. Perhaps it's a gift of the awkward adolescent years, a time that's filled with pimples, cracking voices and gawky limbs, things that don't feel like gifts at all. Those teens had to be given something good, right? Gradually, the power diminishes over the years until, like Superman's strength near kryptonite, it's totally wiped out.

It'd be nice to think I got to have some time to myself in the early morning hours on the weekend. Then the early hour would be bearable. But, the minute my feet hit the ground, the pets are up. If I don't feed the cats right away, I'm likely to be missing a toe or two. The dog suddenly needs to go outside. Two of my kids are years away from adolescence, so as soon as there's movement in the house, they're up, too.

Maybe in a few years I'll be able to sleep in again. Time will tell. Until then, I've got to take what I can get from Mr. Sandman. He can be pretty stingy around these parts.


  1. I have the exact same problem; think you hit the nail on the head with the comment about sleeping in being for the young. I wake up the same time daily regardless of circumstances, even on the weekend.

  2. I was talking to a friend last night who told me she's awake by 4:00 most mornings. Yikes! I feel pretty fortunate now...

  3. It's not really fair, we need the sleep more than the children. When I watch my teens sleep I sometimes am overcome by envy at their deep, slumber through anything, vampire sleeps.