Mr. Sandman, Bring Me A Dream. PLEASE.

Take a look at this, an arrangement of just a few of the products that are involved in my pre-bedtime routine.

All the Lavender

It wasn’t always this way, my having to bring in reinforcements. Way, way back when I was in my twenties, I could brush my teeth, use the bathroom, get into bed, snuggle up to Jim, pull the covers up to my chin (I always loved being cozy under the blankets!) and fall asleep nearly immediately. I’d stay asleep until morning and even if I “only” got seven hours, I felt so well rested!

These days, in my midtolate forties (to me, forty-six is not mid- and not late-; it’s midtolate) things are way different because somewhere along the way, I stopped being able to sleep well. My pre-bedtime routine involves the following, not necessarily in this order:

1. washing my face
2. brushing my teeth
3. using the bathroom
4. spraying my pillow with lavender mist
5. applying lotion to the bottoms of my feet and then pulling on socks
6. applying lotion over most of my body
7. occasionally taking something to help me sleep
8. taking my high blood pressure meds
9. putting on a lavender-scented nasal strip because snoring
10. getting into bed
11. pulling the covers up to my chin and snuggling with Jim for about five minutes until it’s hot as blazes (thanks, peri-menopause!) and I have to scoot over and swing at least one leg out from under everything

An aside: I do not moisturize my face at night because the nasal strip will go “Fwing!” and if you want a hilarious explanation of that kind of situation that will leave you in stitches, go watch Liz’s vlog from two years ago. It’s one of my favorite things ever, and not just because it ends with, “So, Melisa was right.” I truly love it from start to finish.

Even after all of that (SO MANY LAVENDER PRODUCTS BECAUSE RELAXING!), I do not sleep much. Seven hours of sleep would be great. Eight would be like winning the lottery. Nine? Well, nine isn’t even within the realm of my imagination.

I would KILL to consistently get seven hours of solid sleep and feel well-rested in the morning. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t KILL for it. (Maybe.) I’ve always been a light sleeper but the last few years between my advancing age, my increasing core body temperature, my bladder, and my inability to shut my brain down at bedtime, I’m a member of the “often awake at night club”, otherwise known as an insomniac. I lie there deep breathing all of the lavender around me and trying to think about slow-moving things that don’t cause me a care in the world, but it’s no use. Sometimes I lie there on top of all the covers (even in the middle of winter), wondering if I should turn the ceiling fan on “medium” while I let my mind run off to the destinations my body has visited over the past few months: the Bahamas, Tennessee, Mexico, New Jersey…still nothing. Sometimes I’ll put my earbuds in and listen to my “Beach Sounds” playlist on Spotify, imagining I’m either relaxing on the sand or floating in the water while the waves lap the shore. On the worst nights, that is a total fail. Sometimes I’ll even go downstairs and try to sleep on the couch or, worse, I’m so wide awake that I’ll start working at 3:00 a.m. and make plans to power nap later in the day. It’s so completely frustrating. A typical “good” night’s sleep for me is four or five solid hours and a “bad” night’s sleep can mean all kinds of things: one night last week I slept for a grand total of twenty minutes, all night.

Then, just when I’m at my wit’s end and I believe I’ll never get a good night’s sleep ever again, the worst possible thing happens: all of the parts of my pre-bedtime routine actually work the way they’re supposed to, and I sleep for seven hours, uninterrupted. Yes, I said “the worst”. Here’s why:

I get excited about it.
Jim gets excited about it.
I wonder if I can get two nights like that in a row.
I don’t.

The silver lining to all of this is that, during the day, I can sleep anywhere, anytime. In fact, all I have to do to fall asleep during the day is stop moving. It’s one of the reasons why I am ALWAYS doing something while watching TV, because if I don’t, I’m out. I’m an expert Power Napper: if I allow myself to sprawl out on my couch and close my eyes, I can feel completely refreshed after twenty minutes of sleep. If Jim drives us to Wisconsin to see the boys or on other long-distance road trips, I fall asleep as quickly as a baby in a carseat. I’m convinced that this kind of lifestyle is the gateway drug to Early Bird Specials and other Senior Citizen routines and I suddenly feel like I understand the elder generations a little better now, so there’s that.

Still, I’d love some sleep. Maybe it’s time to plan a roadtrip. Who’s driving?


  • Shannon

    I hate the idea of you not sleeping. I’ve gotten to the point now that I sometimes need the bedtime routine, too, which concerns me, because I never used to. I have to keep the iPad beside my bed now because, if I can’t get to sleep, I pull up the NYT crossword (I’m only smart enough for the Monday versions, maybe an occasional Tuesday), and it lulls me towards sleep. It’s the only thing I’ve found that works. Reading wakes me up. Trying to think of something or not think of anything just makes me think all of the things.
    Sending good sleeping juju your way.

    • Melisa Wells

      Ah, but the problem is, we’re not supposed to have electronics in the bedroom because the light from them do all kinds of things to our brains. (and yeah, my iPad is right where yours is. Well, not in your house. At my house. You know what I mean.)
      Sending good sleeping juju right back atcha!

  • Mom24

    I hear ya. Plenty of empathy. I fall asleep super easily but staying asleep? Impossible. I wake after a few hours sleep an nothing can make me fall back asleep. I know it’s bad, but after an hour or so of tossing and turning, I give up and read on my Nook. I try not to use my iPhone because I do think that’s more disruptive to Mark. Hate it! Not enough to go for the heavy drugs (Ambien), but hate it.