Come, Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release,
Th’ indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the press
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw!
O make in me those civil wars to cease!—
I will good tribute pay if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf of noise and blind of light,
A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine in right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella’s image see.

Sir Philip Sidney

I remember when going to sleep was simple. I changed into a nightgown or pajamas. I took off my jewelry. Brushed my hair. Brushed my teeth. Washed face and hands.  Plumped up the pillow, pulled up the covers — and went to sleep. Sometimes, I read for a while … and then fell asleep.

Last night, I went to bed. I did the whole nightgown, hair, wash, brush thing. Of course. Then I adjusted our electric bed trying to find the angle which would give me the least amount of pain in my back while keeping me sufficiently upright to continue to breathe.

I then took the various medications I take before bed — some for blood pressure, others for pain, and one for actual sleep. That was when I realized my rash was acting up. Damn. I put some cortisone cream on it, but that didn’t do it. So I went into the bathroom and used the other, stronger gunk. I stood there for a few minutes waiting for the gunk to dry, then went back to bed.

I realized I couldn’t breathe. I used the daily inhaler. Still couldn’t breath. Used the emergency inhaler — twice. Breathing restored, I realized my eyes were dry enough to feel like I had gravel in them. I found the eye-drops.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch,” I said as the liquid hit the gravel. Garry couldn’t hear me. He had the headphones on and was deep in a western.

I tried another round of eye-drops. “OW!” I yelped. Two rounds of eye-drops later, the gravel had diminished. I realized I needed to do something about my incredibly dry lips. One round of chap-stick. Another round of chap-stick. One more round of chap-stick and by now, I’m wide awake. And my back was killing me.

I found the lidocaine cream. Applied it to my right hip. My left hip. Up and down the spine. Then — again — I waited for the most recent gunk to dry.

By now, a full hour had passed since I put on my nightgown and brushed my teeth. I had been sleepy, but by now, I wasn’t sleepy. Not a bit. I thought wistfully of those long ago days when going to bed was just … going to bed.

Worse, I still had to look forward to the thrill of getting out of bed. Convincing my legs and arms to wake up. Making sure my spine was going to let me stand  up and hopefully, walk.

Eyes – very dry!

The getting up ritual is a whole other thing, starting with around four in the morning when I start readjusting the bed. Because during the night, my spine will congeal into a solid lump of misery. I have to decide what — if any — medication will help. I have to be careful because I can only take a specified amount. If I take meds at four in the morning, I can’t take them later.

You get the idea.

Sometimes, the complexity of going to bed then getting up — first for medication and going back to bed. Next, rearranging the electric bed, trying to go back to sleep, hearing The Duke hit the door, knowing if I don’t get up and give everyone a biscuit he’s going to keep hitting the door until the door breaks or I get up and do the “Good Morning, beloved Dogs” thing.

Nothing is simple. Especially not simplest things.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


  1. Sleep patterns are another symptom that the body no longer does what you tell it to. There is no remedy and you just have to hope you can shut down at some time between dusk and dawn.


    1. This is when I listen to either music or an audiobook on my Kindle. I have a nice little blu-tooth speaker and I set the book for half an hour. If I’m not asleep by then, I reset it for another half hour. Eventually, I do drift off, but it is really hard to get comfortable in bed. Sometimes I wonder if I should just sleep in the recliner. It gets harder every year. I may just give up and not bother to sleep, though as you say, it leaves you stumbling around like zombie when you don’t sleep.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. That’s why I LOVE the timer on my books. That way, I don’t wake up in the morning discovering that I unconsciously read the whole book! Though since i’m going back and rereading “Lord of the Rings,” that’s not TOO likely 😀


  2. I’m fortunate in that once I stop catching up on all the blogs I follow while in bed using my iPhone and shut it off, I fall asleep almost immediately. I usually do have to, like most men my age, get up at around 3:00 to pee, but then, on most nights, I fall back to sleep right away and can sleep until 6:30 or 7:00. So in that regard, no real complaints from me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems to get more complicated every few months. Once upon a time, it was worry. Now, it’s mostly getting the various broken pieces to stop complaining and let me sleep. When I’m away, I am not bothered by everything because I’m busy, but at night, the rest of me wakes up, decides we need a condo meeting and everyone starts yelling and waving their hands in the air!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is some ritual Marilyn- and then the questions begs to be asked- do you sleep through? I would venture to guess the answer is no. Oh to lay one’s head down and awaken 8 hours later refreshed- just a memory for many of us

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I sleep for a few hours, then I wake up. IF the dogs aren’t attacking the door (yet), I get a few more hours. Going to bed earlier doesn’t make the problem better, either. Because it take the body quite a while to settle down and they don’t give those sleeping pills like they used to.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I do so sympathise. The only way I seem to get through the night is to sleep in two separate beds – start off in one, then end up in another. At some point between manoeuvres I do get some sleep.


    1. We don’t have another bed, but I wander. The dogs like it because they always get something out of it and my living room sofa looks especially good around 4 in the morning 😀 Sleep has been tricky for years, but it’s really bad these day. I something wonder if it’s worth the effort.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know very few people over fifty who get a decent night’s sleep. As you say, it used to be so easy. Though I have heard that the Elizabethan court was known to turn the phenomenon into a social event. Everyone got up at 3 a.m. and had a party.


      1. I know. I have it in summer. And you cannot talk yourself out of it or ignore it. I have found (in my case) cold helps, cold water, ice packs. I think my body wants to live above the Arctic Circle. I know my dog does.


            1. Have you been running around naked in the snow again? I warned you about that. I said “Now Martha, all that nudity in icy weather is sure to bring on chilbains … but did you listen? No. You just went right ahead and leapt into that pile of snow … and now, y’see?”


              1. No, no I don’t have chilbains — I thought maybe your itching was chilbains. And we don’t have any snow, either, for me to run around in naked. Strange, strange, strange winter. Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog does NOT approve!


                  1. Bear is begging me to take her out into the snowless world in the low 50s. I must yield to her wishes as she’s going to be boarded for 2 nights and a day. She doesn’t know that, but I do. I’m going to see a doc in Colorado Springs and my appt is at 9:30 Thurs morning. I hate this so much. My eye is twitching. OH well, it could a whole lot worse. ❤


                    1. I have not had to board my dogs in a long, long time. The idea really terrifies me, even though there was a time when it was perfectly normal. But so far, so good. The Son show up and the dogs totally adore him. Especially Gibbs who doesn’t generally adore anyone.

                      All this medical stuff truly sucks and I get it. I have a habit of cancelling things until finally, I’m in a corner and can’t cancel or no one will make another appointment with me. On some level, I just DON’T want to know. Even though I sort of already know.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. We have a boarding kennel here in Monte Vista now, and I really want the business to take off. I thought I’d be bringing my new Airdyne back in my car, but my friend is borrowing her brother’s pick up so I COULD take all the dogs with me, but I have to do this. There’s a really good chance they’ll be boarded off and on during the surgery and rehab period. I want them to like it. The owners are very nice people. But I hate it. Dusty and Mindy and I have been through EVERYTHING together since 2014.

                      With the cold water and ice, I meant it makes my summer itching go away.


      1. Yeah, because it is the world’s view that Goethe = Faust. And we’re supposed to sit still in awed reverence. I went to hear a one-man show (good actor) do scenes from Faust, some of which are actually FUNNY and MEANT to be funny. When laughed, he stopped and GLARED at me. All was redeemed when one of my students, Travis Valentine, an exceedingly gay and alive kid, performed the Witch’s Kitchen scene for a project in his senior seminar (theater major) and he set it in a 70’s disco. I got to help him with it and it was absolutely hilarious (as it was meant to be). But I labor under the illusion that Goethe belongs especially to me. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

              1. Yesterday on Rake, the protagonist recited Yeats. I almost weapt. I really thought, when I was a kid, that grown ups went around reciting poetry and loving poetry, I guess because both my parents did. “When I grow up, I’m going to know a LOT of poems so I can recite poetry with my friends.” I had the strangest notions of adulthood. :p

                Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my. I will, from this day forward, stop bitching immediately and feel blessed that my lack of sleep (for the last 15 years) is nothing compared to what it could be!!!

    Well, I’ll TRY to stop bitching. I suppose it will depend on the success or failure of my attempt at slumber the previous night!


    1. That’s what my granddaughter says. She says “They’re always WATCHING you.” But i don’t close the closet door either. Of all my weird fears, I’ve never been afraid someone or something watching or that anyone is going to leap out of the closet. Now … spiders … THAT’s different.

      Liked by 1 person

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