I realize I've been relying heavily on photos instead of words here on the blog lately -- that's because I've been having a lot of trouble stringing them together when speaking, let alone writing. I am just. so. tired. At about four or five months of age Sylvie started to pretty much sleep through the night. Regular readers of this blog could probably go back and check for the exact date -- I'm too tired to bother. Because ever since Sylvie started to crawl, about two months or so ago, she's been waking up pretty much every two or three hours at night. At first I thought she was excited by her new ability and simply wanted to get moving; then I chalked it up to teething. She had an ear infection in B.C., which certainly didn't help, and now, as a result of the antibiotics, she has thrush. So it's probably been all of those things, in sequence or in combination. I don't consider it sleep deprivation on par with that caused by a newborn -- those wakenings, at least for me and my babies, always lasted an hour or more at a time. These wakenings are usually mercifully brief, except for an early morning one that generally lasts forty-five minutes to an hour, around four a.m.
I'm a big sleeper -- love to sleep! Loved it before I had children. Love it even more now. And I need a lot of it. I've always needed more than the average eight hours a night. I need about nine to feel normal. And I'll happily steal ten if I can. I also like to read in bed, so those ten hours are, ideally, book-ended by a couple of hours lying there reading. Of course, this does not happen nearly often enough for my liking, not with two small children, and probably too often for David's. (The man is a saint. And he doesn't need very much sleep. And I haven't said a word about all the hockey lately. Isn't there some kind of playoff thingy going on?)
One of the subjects I like to read about in bed is, drum roll please: sleep. So this week, I absolutely devoured Patricia Morrisroe's new memoir of insomnia, Wide Awake. A magazine writer, Morrisroe, who is best known for her biography of Robert Mapplethorpe, has been an insomniac since childhood. She has no trouble falling asleep -- it takes her an enviable five minutes. It's staying asleep that's the problem. She generally wakes up for at least a couple of hours in the dead middle of the night. At least, she used to. Because during the writing of this book, which she decided to write in order to find a cure, she did indeed solve the problem of her insomnia. This is actually quite surprising, given how unyielding the problem tends to be. The book belongs as much in the popular science genre as it does in the memoir category-- it is science made light, personal and, whenever possible, amusing. In fact, even though I'm utterly sleep-deprived at the moment, it actually kept me up, reading into the night for way too long.
For a little taste of Morrisroe on sleep, check out this article about how her mother-in-law, who is 87, takes advantage of her insomnia to work her way through the classics.
I like sleep so much, I've often thought of writing a novel about it. (I wrote "dreamed" instead of "thought" first and then changed it. That was too much of a groaner, even for me.) A novel about sleep would be exciting, huh? Here's a tiny flash I once wrote on the subject.
Also, if you like the subject of sleep and you haven't read Steven Millhauser's novella Enchanted Night, you really should. There's a lot more activity in it than just sleeping but it's very ... sleepy. And it beautifully evokes a small-town summer night.
If you know of any more really good books on the subject of sleep -- or somehow related to it -- please do drop me a line or leave a comment.