It's hard to express the level of identification I felt with the article in today's New York Times Sunday Styles section on women and sleep. Or, more accurately, women in their 40s who don't sleep.
It's not as though I didn't know that I wasn't alone in my sleeplessness. A few years ago I made a new friend when we started emailing each other about books and sleep aids. And, truth be told, the sleeplessness of motherhood didn't surprise me. I've never been a great sleeper. Even in my twenties I'd fall asleep quickly and wake around 3 or 4. And can I just say, if you're awake at 3 or 4 AM and not inebriated or engaged in some kind of salacious activity, you're quite certain the world will end because you forgot to take out the garbage. But, at 3:37 AM, when I think about taking out the garbage I also think about everyone else who takes out their garbage, and how all that garbage will pile up into mountains, just like in Wall-E, and not just because the City won't collect it all. Because that's what life is like lying awake at 3 AM. In fact, last night I was awake worrying about an assignment for school and whether or not David Leonhardt was right about climate change being worse than we could imagine, just like the financial crisis of 2008 was. (This was in the Times Sunday Magazine years ago, but I can't find it now, and if I try any harder, I'll add to my sleeplessness tonight, when I'll be wondering why I was blogging and not working.)
So my question is why did I have such a strong response to that article in today'a Styles? Why didn't I just turn to my husband, who told me about the article, and say, "Tell me something I don't know." After all, I was up pretty much all last night, even though I was exhausted from not sleeping for several nights this past week and working all day. Plus, when I read the article itself, it didn't really give me any new insights. For example, the article suggests that technology creeps into our night-time wind-down. Yep. It says that women are perfectionists and want to put out a five course meal every night. Nope, that's ridiculous. Most people I know are amazed I spatchcock a chicken once a week. Still and all, even if the reasons for sleeplessness are run-of-the-mill, even if the fact of it is an accepted part of modern maternity even outside of New York City, it's so awful and cruel, it's somehow better to feel companionship in insomnia. Maybe knowing I'm not alone will help me sleep better tonight.