Boomer Girl Diary: Sleep numbers don’t add up with this family

I am sitting on the end of my living room sofa, unable to move.

It’s not that my leg has gone numb again, like it does after a long sitting with “American Idol.” (Note to readers: Do not — I repeat, NOT — jump up to answer the phone when your foot is asleep. The fall isn’t pretty, and the noise is deafening.) It’s because Lucy the cocker spaniel has nested on top of the couch just above me, her rear end resting heavily on my shoulder, and she’s snoring to beat the band.

I swear, the girl can sleep anywhere. Just like the rest of my family. Everyone, that is, except me.

Take my husband … please! (Apologies to Henny Youngman.) He is the undisputed master of the catnap (apologies to Lucy). This is a guy who will fall asleep during an episode of “24,” just as the long-suffering Jack Bauer is being tortured within an inch of his life. That unnerving ticking clock has no effect on him!

My spouse can get up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, take the dog out into the bracing cold, drink two cups of coffee — the caffeinated kind — and be back in bed by 8:30, sawing logs, dog nestled in the small of his back.

His particular talent, however, is snoozing in the upright position, with absolutely no neck support, hands closed into two tight fists in his lap. Once he’s assumed the position, I know he’s out for the count.

My son’s knack for dozing in the unlikeliest of places is legendary.

He once fell asleep at a stoplight on the way to high school. (The fear factor of this incident is magnified by the fact that his car, at the time, was a manual transmission.) To this day, his orthodontist still marvels at how he could catch 40 winks while getting his braces tightened.

Once, I took him with me to a trade show in New York City where I was an exhibitor. He was to work beside me during the day in exchange for fabulous free meals and entertainment at night — a “take your son to work” learning experience, if you will.

We had to arrive at nine in the morning, but it was easily an hour earlier than his arrival time at school. For the first hour or so, he was a trooper. Then, he announced he was taking a 10-minute snack break. An hour later, I found him zonked on a concrete bench in the middle of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center lobby, bagel in hand, with hundreds of noisy people milling around him.

My daughter, who is undoubtedly slumbering as you read this, even if it’s one o’clock in the afternoon, could win a gold medal in shut-eye. Ten minutes into a road trip and she’s conked out in a nest of fluffy bed pillows and blankets.

On weekends, she’ll frequently snooze beyond noon, a satin Hollywood-style eye mask on her face, albeit just for effect. She’s such a master at deep sleeping, I suspect she doesn’t actually wake up until she’s been out of bed for a couple hours.

(Note to readers: If you see my children at stoplights, avoid them like the plague.)

I could sleep like that — anytime, anywhere — once upon a time.

On vacations as a child, my dad nicknamed me Old Shep because of my tendency to fall dead asleep sprawled across the second seat of the station wagon, forcing my four siblings to ride in the “way back” eight hours to Minnesota. In college, there were a couple of times I awoke on weekends to find several people staring down at me, panicked looks on their faces, “We thought you were dead!”

Not anymore.

I can’t sleep in cars. I can’t sleep on planes. And I certainly can’t sleep sitting up in the living room when Jack Bauer is getting pummeled by the Russian mob!

These days, acquiring sleep requires a ritual: regular bedtime, humidifier pumping moisture and white noise into the room, earplugs inserted, alarm clock turned toward the wall (that LED light is so bright) and a lightweight blanket on the bed. A little blue Lunesta tablet is on standby in the bathroom, just in case.

Maybe when I get older, I’ll be able to catch some Z’s whenever I please. Like Lucy the cocker spaniel, whose rump rests on my right shoulder as she dozes and dreams.

— Cathy Hamilton is a 53-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author. She can be reached at can be reached at 832-6319.


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