I wonder what it is. If I brew a cup of tea and sit down to knit, just as I have settled myself and managed to pick up the dropped stitches from my last fleeting knit time, someone calls me. Little feet run, pounding down the hall to the bathroom as fast as they can, while a little person cries, “Potty, potty, I’ve got to go fast. Mommy help.” The knitting gets unceremoniously tossed from my lap, and by the time I return, I realize that all of the dropped stitches that I had just fixed are now dropped again.
Or if I sit down, cup of tea in hand to write, as soon as I am “into” my writing, one or more of the occupants of our house cannot remember where they left their shoes or our only working stapler.
It’s a Mom’s life. I know this is not unique to me, but even so, I was relieved when I read the New YorkTimes article by Pamela Paul, “Mother’s New Little Helper: Sleep Medication”. I confess to always being a bit morbidly intrigued by the Rolling Stones lyrics “Mother’s Little Helper”, so I read the article.
It was a fascinating article, and from it I learned that insomnia runs rampant among women. Seventy five percent of the patients at the Emory University Sleep Center are women. Sleep aid use by women is highest between the ages of 40–59, with 15,473,000 women in the U.S. getting prescriptions for some sort of pharmaceutical sleep aide. The insomnia seems to start with the end of pregnancy, and instead of following all those midnight feedings and night terror wake-ups with a period of recuperation during the preteen years (let’s face it, no parent sleeps during the teen years), some women never get back on track with their sleep cycles.
What really intrigued me about the New York Times article was this: “…[those numbers] do not take into account the many women who have no trouble passing out at 10 p.m. — but zing wide awake at 3:30 a.m….One benefit of the 3 or 4 a.m. wake-up is that it gives women the rare time to check items off the list. Some 4:30 a.m. wakers relish the extra hours, getting up to reorganize the linen closet or return email.”
A woman is quoted, “I have some pretty creative moments at 3:00 a.m.” Another claims: “I’m pretty sure I wake up at 3 because subconsciously, I know I’ll have this time to myself. It’s the only time in a 24-hour period when no one needs me or wants me or expects me to do something. Despite the inconvenience, it’s a time that’s blissfully mine.”
I think I may be that last woman. There have been times when I have zinged awake at 4:00 or 4:30 a.m., and instead of electing to toss and turn in bed, I have gotten up and done something productive, like write or knit, and yes I am often at my most creative at those times. The house is quiet, and barring a night terror from the 5-year-old, I can count on distraction-free work, with the hum of the refrigerator or the roar of the heater fan as my sole soundtrack.
I’ve always thought it was because I am a morning person that I am so productive during these early hours, and I think that does explain some of it. But I also think that entering that zone of creativity and concentration requires the right environment. Sometimes the only time a person (man or woman) who works fulltime and then comes home to help manage a household and raise children has to really think deeply is 3 or 4 a.m., when the spouse and the children are asleep, and wild thoughts are tamed and directed by the quiet metronome of the ticking wall clock.
So, getting up and doing some stealth knitting and writing at 3 a.m. isn’t so weird after all. But it’s only 9:30 p.m., and I’m not feeling very inspired…yawn. Good night. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
©2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.