As for the question I left dangling yesterday:
I don't know why Ohioans are among the nations worst sleepers; all I know is that for most of my life I was among the worst of the worst. On and off.
When I was about 4 years old I'd sometimes wake up in the middle of the night then toddle into my parents room and wake my mother up. I'd tell her I was hungry. I wasn't hungry, but telling my mother, who'd starved her way through her childhood (see post from 3/21/2014) that I was hungry always did the trick to get her up.
She'd then take me downstairs and fix me either a bowl of Campbell's soup or a bowl of cereal neither of which I ever ate more than a couple spoonfuls because I wasn't actually hungry. Just wide awake and wanting my mother to keep me company.
I started having trouble sleeping again in high school. I'd lie awake for hours in the middle of the night or sometimes, if it wasn't in the deep of winter and too cold to get out of bed (see post from 1/15/2015), I'd get up and wander around downstairs for a while. The next morning I'd doze off for half an hour while riding the local commuter train I took to school.
Then in college I underwent a great circadian sea-change.
I can't say whether the cause of the change was the comfy warmth of my dorm room in contrast to the cold house I'd grown up living and sleeping in, but all of a sudden I was sleeping all night, every night. And taking copius naps during the day. My room mate used to call me "The Horizontal Woman".
I also put on 20 pounds, but so what, I could sleep!
And so I spent about the next 10 years in a state of well-rested well-being.
Then I started having kids. And what went 'round came 'round, as my babies were as bad sleepers for me as I'd been for my mother. Sometimes I'd be up in the middle of the night in the living room rocking a newborn with an insomniac 2-year-old up and playing on the floor as if it were the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes I'd have a newborn and a toddler sharing my half of our small double bed while I slept (or rather, didn't sleep) on the edge with one leg hanging off the side of bed.
I believe it was about 12 years from the time my first baby began wailing its way through the night until the last one was sleeping through the night. And in that period there was never a time when some little person wasn't waking me up regularly at night.
And then at last everybody in the house was sleeping through the night.
Everybody, that is, except me.
Now that I was free to sleep through the night I couldn't. Typically I'd fall asleep around 10 pm then suddenly snap awake around 1 am then toss and turn for two, three, or four hours. Sometimes I wouldn't fall back to sleep for the rest of the night. Sometimes I'd suffer the more traditional form of insomnia, falling into bed bone-tired but unable to fall asleep.
I developed a princess and the pea - like hypersensitivity to the slightest irregularity of mattress or pillow. Too hard, too soft, too many blankets or too few and even a few hours sleep would be a lost cause. And after tossing wide-awake for hours even the most perfectly comfortable mattress would start to feel hard as concrete.
I never lost my great ability to nap during the day, though. Though I couldn't sleep well at night, if the opportunity arose in the middle of the afternoon I could climb back into bed and fall into a swift, wonderful sleep for an hour or two. I could also fall asleep in almost any chair. I could fall asleep sitting in a metal folding chair during my kids' cello lessons.
When a nap wasn't available I pushed through the day on cups of tea and bottles of diet Coke. For about a year I tried giving up caffeine altogether and saw zero improvement in my non-sleep condition.
And so it went for many years. I thought people who could go to bed, fall asleep and wake up eight hours later refreshed and renewed were the blessed of humanity.
I remember a couple of years ago when Tom and I were training for an up-coming 500-mile trek through the mountains of Spain (see "Tighten Your Boots", my daily blog of our trip) by hiking up and down the slopes of Hocking Hills outside Columbus. During one of these training sessions we happened to run into a man and woman who'd already hiked the same route as we'd be doing. When I mentioned that I feared that I'd never be able to sleep at all in the hostels where we'd be staying the woman said, "Oh don't worry, you hike 10 hours a day you'll sleep all right!"
So we hiked for 10 hours a day and I laid awake half the night.
Then, after almost 35 years of unrelenting insomnia, about a year ago I suddenly started sleeping at night. Crawling into bed and drifting directly off. I may wake up a few times during the night but now I can role over and fall right back into the arms of Morpheus, the god of sleep. I dream. It's a gift I don't take for granted.
I don't know why after all these years I once again crossed over from the ranks of the sleep-deprived to the ranks of the sleep-satiated.
All I know is that I've been among the 2/5 (see yesterday's post) and I hope to never go back.