BY MAURA AMMENHEUSER
I forgot to defrost the chicken.
"Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream / I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been."
This is no psychedelic rant. It's what goes through my head at 3:30 a.m.
I have no idea what to write for next week's column.
"All fired up, fired up, fired up!"
I fall asleep easily at night - so easily I barely remain conscious through dinner sometimes. But that devilish 3:30 a.m. hour arrives and it's time for the nocturnal to-do list, complete with whatever loud soundtrack my brain was subconsciously playing. Usually Led Zepplin or Pat Benatar. The downside of coming of age in the'80s: Classic rock to suffer insomnia by.
We're out of milk and laundry detergent but I can't get to Costco tomorrow. When is Daughter's mission project due?
Women are notoriously poor sleepers, mothers especially. It's extremely difficult to turn off the worries, random thoughts and problem solving when we turn off the lights. Add fluctuating hormones and we're middle-of-the-night messes.
How can we afford to replace our carpeting? Is Son getting enough iron?
An oft-quoted 2007 National Sleep Foundation poll showed that 67 percent of women experience frequent sleep difficulties and 29 percent use a sleep aid several times per week. A study in the journal "Pediatrics" from 2006 noted that before puberty, girls sleep as well as boys. Afterward, their likelihood of insomnia is 2.5 times that of boys the same age.
I haven't called Dad in two weeks. Is he OK?
Hormones wreak havoc on our sleep. First puberty, then pregnancy. The postpartum weeks, of course, involve a newborn waking every two hours. After staggering through childbearing, we arrive at midlife, when menopause brings hot flashes to zap our ZZZs - right around the time we're also stressed about teenagers, college tuition, aging parents, and/or whether there's enough gas in the tank to get to work in the morning. Literally and figuratively.
The Mayo Clinic suggests strategies for successful sleep: Keep a consistent schedule, even through weekends. "Don't go to bed either hungry or stuffed." Limit fluids in the p.m., to limit weeing in the wee hours. Beware caffeine and nicotine, especially late in the day. Don't rely on alcohol to get you to sleep. (I can attest to this. A glass of wine at 5 p.m. has me nearly comatose at 8 p.m., but ready to run a 10K at midnight.) Make sure your bedroom's comfortably dark, cool and quiet. Limit naps (as if!). Get regular exercise - though if evening workouts rev you up, do them in the morning instead. Manage stress. (Yeah, right. My best way to manage stress? Getting enough sleep!) Create a bedtime ritual; think warm bath, a book, dimmed lights. But not TV.
This doesn't address returning to sleep after 3:30 a.m., though, and that's the frustrating part. I have two foggy minutes to resettle before my brain goes into worry gear.
"Whataya want from me?" (Oh, I get Adam Lambert after watching "Idol" before bed. The Mayo Clinic was right about TV.)
It takes massive powers of concentration to brake racing thoughts. Counting backward from 100 - avoiding I have to schedule a dentist appointment between 90 and 89 - helps. My aunt says a rosary as balm for sleepless nights. Sometimes it's a matter of switching the mental playlist from Arena Rock to Easy Listening. James Taylor's "The Water is Wide" works.
If, that is, I can turn off all the other noise long enough to hear him.
What robs you of sleep? What soothes you back to dreamland? Join the conversation at blogs.inlandsocal.com/moms, PE.com or Momarama's page on Facebook. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Momarama shares readers' emailed comments with their permission.