Recently, events in my life have eerily paralleled the story line from that classic film, Sleepless in Seattle, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. How? Well, for starters, I’ve lived in the greater Seattle area for the past 30 years. Second, I’ve been having difficulty sleeping lately. And third, I have been told I resemble Tom Hanks (particularly by people who have never seen him). Hence the premise for this week’s column.
For the past several weeks, I’ve had maybe two hours of fitful ZZZ time per night. It’s starting to make me cranky. Several friends have offered less than helpful theories to explain my sleep-deprived predicament. Perhaps, said one, I’m feeling pangs of regret over decades of egregious parenting failures. Or maybe I’m riding a sugar high from binging on Pop Tarts and Mountain Dew right before bedtime.
One person posited that my insomnia may be due to anxiety from watching news coverage 24/7. I say I’d only be watching news 24/16 if I could sleep. Yet another “expert” speculated that my tossing and turning might be me practicing maneuvers for eluding the thugs who are after me for my gambling debts. Please don’t tell my wife that I blew our life savings at the Emerald Queen Casino.
Those are all excellent – albeit wildly erroneous – explanations for my nocturnal insomnolence. The real cause is that I had knee replacement surgery for the second time in four months and am struggling with RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome). RLS is a common side effect of major knee surgery. It’s characterized by an irresistible urge to move one’s legs in a futile attempt to find a comfortable position. It occurs typically at nighttime and has many manifestations: twitching, thrashing, and knocking all the covers to the floor.
It can take a significant toll on loved ones as the sufferer may body-slam his bed partner in the chest, or in a knee-jerk motion, propel the cats off the bed up toward the rotating ceiling fan. It is thus suggested one keep the fan on low speed. The subsequent shunning by wife – and cats – can have the far-reaching mental health consequences of rejection, abandonment, and loneliness. My legs have therefore been designated as clear and present dangers to others.
Some evenings it’s so bad that I’m not sure if my problem is RLS or a frenetic case of the Harlem Shakes. Most nights I have to get up four or five times – and not just to pee. I pace around the bedroom, the living room, even the garage, in a fruitless attempt to quiet my legs. It hasn’t worked, but on the positive side, these wee hour wanderings have enabled me to hit my daily Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps on several nights.
Thanks to caring friends – and a few idiots – I have a plethora of tactics to try to help me sleep. Here are just a few of those suggestions:
- Practice meditation before bedtime.
- Download an ambient noise app of soothing sounds, like crashing waves, a crackling campfire, or a dentist’s drill. (I’m wondering about this last sound, as it barely helped me relax).
- A warm cup of milk.
- No sugar after 1pm (you lost me at “1pm”, buddy).
- Smoke a cigarette. (I guess it’s never too late to take up a new habit. Does vaping count?)
- Listen to bacon frying (didn’t achieve sleep but thanks to this tip, I’ve gained five pounds).
- Hum like a bee. Using live bees is not recommended.
- Listen to a podcast on Mastering Excel.
- Do not drink alcohol before bedtime (since I don’t drink, this one should be easy).
- Have a glass of wine before bedtime.
Then there is the always welcome, “Don’t try to fall asleep. Just let it happen.” Um, thanks for the vapid, clichéd platitude.
I’ve tried prescription sleeping meds to no avail. One of them apparently can induce sleep walking, or worse yet, sleep driving (yikes!). I bailed on that one, lest I get pulled over for driving without a license – or pants. The other sleep prescriptions were as effective in bringing on sleep as Flintstone vitamins are at dissolving a brain tumor.
So far, nothing has worked. I’m at my wits end – and my wife is sleeping at a neighbor’s. But I have a buddy who guarantees he has the cure-all that will send me to Slumberland: Hop in bed, drink a fifth of Tequila and watch Weekend at Bernie’s, wearing nothing but bunny slippers. In full disclosure, he also swears that drinking a fifth of Bourbon will cure male pattern baldness. So he’s missing a few screws – at this point, what have I got to lose? I’ll keep you posted.
Good news just in: My doctor assures me that my RSL is a temporary condition which should dissipate over time. The bad news is “over time” according to my doctor could be anywhere from two weeks till shortly after my untimely death due to sleep deprivation.
Whoa! I suddenly feel really drowsy. It just hit me as I was typing the last paragraph. My eyes are so heavy. I can barely keep my head up. I better lie down for a minute before I fall asleep at the keyboar$#%$J@E)%Nda&%#Dfw)@$#3en48093abutcp………………………..
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off baaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzz…
Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020