No Wining, It’s Bedtime

by guest on March 18, 2011

by Margot Magowan

I love sleeping. Everything about it. I love my bed with its firm, square pillows and its silky, indigo bedding. I love anticipating sleep, knowing its hours or minutes before I become so relaxed that I actually slip into another state of consciousness.

But recently, I had to make a choice between two of my great loves: sleeping and drinking.

These days, if I drink a glass of wine, invariably, I wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling asleep again. And let’s just say those waking hours aren’t the most peaceful for my brain.

If I drink two glasses of wine before bed, forget it. I’ll toss and turn the entire second half of the night. When it’s finally time for me to stumble out of bed, I feel tired and depressed. There are circles under my eyes and my skin isn’t exactly glowy. I’m likely to yell at my kids for tiny infractions that don’t get on my nerves when I’m well rested.

This reaction to alcohol is annoying, because like I said, I love sleeping. I love the moment when my husband comes into bed, usually about an hour or so after me, and I feel his warm body is resting next to mine. No matter how much my family is irritating me, I’m easily reminded of how much I love them all unconditionally when they’re sleeping. If any of my kids are driving me crazy, I make a point to go take a look at their sweet, little faces while they’re peacefully slumbering, and instantly, I feel overwhelmed with adoration.

I didn’t always fetishize sleep. To the contrary, I didn’t understand the point of it. When I was just out of college, I remember reading somewhere that humans spent a third of their lives in bed. I was shocked.  What a waste of time! One third of our short lives. The article went on to state that no one, not doctors or scientists, really understood what the point of all that sleep was. They still don’t.

But things changed for me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I fell in love with sleep when sleep abandoned me. I had a baby. A colicky baby who slept, at most, in three hour blocks. After months of nursing her 24/ 7, being exhausted, cranky and miserable (following months of restless nights of pregnancy, waking up to pee on the hour) all I could think about, all I wanted, all I craved, was sleep. I couldn’t believe I had taken something so glorious for granted. I would look around, envious, as strangers, thinking: “Most humans got to sleep every single night!” I promised myself that if ever I got the chance to sleep again, I’d appreciate it.

Then I had two more kids.

Now my youngest is one and a half years old and finally, all five of us are sleeping through the night. And like I wrote, I’m in bliss.

Except when I drink at night. Then my sleeping becomes so disrupted, I may as well be nine months pregnant or have a nursing baby at my bedside.

My sensitivity to alcohol while sleeping may seem extreme, but apparently, it’s not just me. An article about a new study published in Science Magazine and titled, “Alcohol Disrupts Women’s Sleep More than Men’s” found that: “Women who consumed alcohol had fewer hours of sleep, woke more frequently and for more minutes during the night, and had more disrupted sleep compared to men who drank alcohol.”

The study doesn’t say that missing sleep can turn your life or your face into a mess, but here’s the thing: If the point of wine is to relax me and give me some pleasure, which is why I drink it, at this time in my life, alcohol isn’t accomplishing that goal. In fact, it’s getting in the way. At some future date, I may enjoy wine again. But for tonight, I choose sleep.

Margot Magowan‘s blog ReelGirl is supposed to rate media and products for girl empowerment, but she often gets sidetracked into writing commentary on politics and culture. Her articles have also been published in Salon, Glamour, the San Jose Mercury News, and numerous other newspapers and online sites. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” CNN, Fox News, and other TV and radio programs. Margot is the Director of the Fellows Program at the Woodhull Institute, providing media training and placement to extraordinary women leaders. Margot also worked as a talk radio producer creating top-rated programs. Her short story, “Light Me Up,” is featured in an anthology coming out in June 2011. She is currently writing a chapter book about the fairyworld. Margot lives with her husband and their three daughters in San Francisco.

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