Friday, March 27, 2015

The Prince and the Pea

Obviously, I already have a hard time getting to sleep at night, but I manage that pretty well with rigid routines, comfortable space designs, and, sometimes, pharmaceutical assistance. Now the doctor tells me that my favorite sleep position is out of the question, because, apparently, sleeping on your side with your arm extended past your head is damaging to the rotator cuff, and probably partly responsible for my shoulder injury and pain. And it wouldn't matter if I decided not to listen to him, because it was already becoming impossible to sleep in that position anyway, because the pain wouldn't let me get comfortable.

At this point, I should probably clarify exactly what I mean when I use words like "rigid" and "routines" to describe my sleep habits. Here are just a few facts, all true, about my sleeping arrangements, all of which developed over years of struggling with insomnia, and all of which came as a complete shock to my wife once we married.

1. I sleep with at least six or seven pillows, all for me, and use every one of them in different ways, depending upon what position I'm sleeping in. My wife saw all of those pillows on my bed before we married, but of course assumed that they were just decorative. She now knows that they are definitely not, and wants to buy a bigger bed. This also makes it almost impossible to sleep in hotel rooms, unless I bring my own pillows, because the front desk never seems to understand what I mean by "more pillows."

2. I cannot look at any screen except for television for at least thirty minutes before I want to try to sleep, especially if it involves games of any sort, even puzzles. Once my brain revs up, it takes too long to idle back down again.

3. I play ocean and rain sounds to fall asleep. When I slept alone, they would pretty much play all night, but ever since my wife started having nightmares of being on a capsizing boat in a hurricane, I started programming the sounds to cut off after twenty minutes.

4. If I'm still awake after the nature sounds turn off, then I pop a melatonin, and that always helps, but I don't take them on the weekends, because I don't want to become dependent on them.

5. No part of my body can be touching any other part of my body. Or more specifically, no part of my skin can be touching any other part of my skin. That's what three to four of those pillows are used for. Touching my wife's body, on the other hand always welcome, except that now, with the wonky shoulder, I can't even sleep in a position that allows for spooning.

6. The room needs to be pretty darn cold, freezing, as my wife puts it, before I can fall asleep.

So, losing my favorite sleep position was a real challenge, and I'm still working out how to compensate for it. Rearranging the pillows does seem to help, and I certainly want to do everything I can to get rid of this shoulder pain, but it's cost me a few restless nights, not to mention annoying my wife and keeping her up as well. On the other hand, it's also a source of some amusement for her, watching me twist and turn and try to build magic walls and forts with my pillows.

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