TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My son recently got a very cool new ‘toy’ for his house. A “Sleep Number Bed.”

He raved about it and had us test it when we went to visit. Tom was instantly smitten. And why not?

It has two separate remote controls for each of us AND it connects to the internet via an app on our cell phones! What more could a man want from his bed? Maybe a cup of coffee delivered the moment he opens his eyes. But that technology is a few years away!

This bed is super complex. There are all sorts of pipes and God knows what else under there. There is even a light that turns on automatically when you get out of bed so you can see your way back and forth from the bathroom.

Technicians plugging in the wires under the bed

The set up was amazing to watch. Layer after layer went onto the base, including he mattress itself and the elements that fill with air to give support under the mattress.

The early stage of putting the bed together

The best part of this bed for me are the two remote controls. One is just for temperature settings but the other is a computer for bed comfort. You can raise and lower the foot of the bed and each side of the head of the bed, separately. I can be down in sleep position while Tom is way up in reading position. Instead of straining your neck on multiple pillows to watch TV or read, you just raise your head.

There’s a setting for watching TV with both the foot end and the head up that is so comfortable!! You feel cradled by your bed.

Remote on the left is for the bed and the one on the right is for the temperature control pad

You can also set the softness of the mattress and the level of ‘support’ you want. The air-filled compartments under the mattress give your back more or less support. So you have to find the best combination for you of mattress softness and air compartment support.

The remote and the phone App then chart your sleep and tell you how well you slept on those particular mattress settings. It charts periods of deep sleep, restless periods and the number of times you got up.

It also lets you know how effectively your body was supported and whether there were unwanted ‘pressure points’ on your body. The goal is to get rid of the pressure points and have your whole body maximally supported. When you first get the bed, you have to keep adjusting the mattress until you find your optimal settings for the best night’s sleep.

Another stage of bed setup

Another plus for this bed is that the mattress won’t begin to sag like our Temperpedic did. We loved our Temperpedic, but after a few years, Tom’s hips were in a ditch! With the new bed, you can control the air in the unit so you never lose your level of back support. The bed comes with a twenty-year warranty versus a five-year warranty for our last bed.

More bed setup

There’s an optional feature that you can buy that controls the temperature of your side of the mattress. You can either cool or heat your side of the bed, which is great because Tom is always hot and I’m always cold.

Tom says he had never stayed comfortable all night before he could cool his side of the bed. He used to wake up several times a night overheating. Now he only wakes up several times a night to pee – something this bed does not have a setting to control!

Heating pad and connection to control unit under the bed

At first, the dogs seemed confused when the bed started moving and making noise. They would raise their heads and look quizzical. They didn’t jump off and run away. They just realized that something weird was going on. After a few days, they got the hang of it. Now they don’t move a muscle even when their butt is raised up above their head or half of their body is up and the other half down.

So this new bed is going to be a fun toy for a while until it becomes routine and we don’t have to make adjustments every day. In the meantime, we eagerly await our morning sleep scores for the previous night so we can adjust our settings for the next night. We may never get tired of raising and lowering ourselves by remote control.

I certainly hope that we will actually sleep better. I keep forgetting that the bed is not meant to be entertainment, but a sleep enhancer. But for now, it’s a bit of both.

LOSING THE SNOOZE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Snooze


I think I got maybe two hours of sleep last night. I have a few annoying ailments and three dogs who usually bark only at delivery people, my son, and any other dog.

Our neighbors have a couple of big dogs. In the past, they had a matched pair of mastiffs, but time marched on. Now they have a couple of boxers.

When The Duke barks an alarm like that in the middle of the night, I have to get up and see what — if anything — is happening. I’m pretty sure the neighbors aren’t walking their dogs. I doubt anyone is delivering. Not even Amazon.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I get up, limp to the living room. It turns out, they want a cookie. And some play time. They get the cookie, but I’m not feeling playful. I just want some sleep. Having been awakened, usually after just falling asleep, I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth again, and climb into my cozy bed.

That’s when I notice I itch. My undiagnosed eczema — or is it dermatitis? No one knows. It’s a wildly itchy rash with no known cause and I’ve been getting it off and on since I was in my twenties. You’d think, after 50 years of itching, I’d have a handle on it.

I don’t. I can deal with pain better than itching. I have chemical goop, over the counter chemical goop, natural goop, aloe growing in its own pot. Powder with something anti-itch in it. Everything works sometimes, nothing works all the time. During the day, I get involved in other things and it doesn’t bother me as much, but at night? Trying to snooze into dreamland? Hah.

And then there’s my back which only lets me sleep on it. I am, by nature, a right-side sleeper, but I can’t sleep on my side anymore. When I get a rotating combination of pain and itching … and the dogs bark too? A whole night passes and the big snooze eludes me.

Anything could happen!

I think I get most of my sleep during the day when I’m trying to clear out my email. Yesterday, I got almost 300 emails. One hundred and twenty-seven of them showed up in a batch and the rest kept dribbling in until finally, I deleted anything that wasn’t marked “payment due” and was more than 24 hours old.

Sleep? Great idea! Maybe I’ll get some tonight.

COMFORT LATE AND BED – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Comfortable

It is late. I am in bed. My mattress is new, but the bed is not. It is nearly 20 years old but if it is not the most comfortable bed in the world, it’s pretty close.

Tinted doll in the bedroom

The room is air-conditioned. Lightly air-conditioned. I’ve always been averse to heat but lately, I’m cold. The breeze from the fan means I put on long sleeves.

I’ve taken my sleepy medications and my eyes are closing. It doesn’t get better than this.

See you all in the morning.

FEAR OF SLEEPING, FEAR OF DREAMS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Fear

I thought maybe that buying a new mattress would help at least by lowering the level of a backache which wakes me up every couple of hours. A

Yesterday, we got the new mattress. It’s a honey. Soft enough, yet with an underlying firmness that probably means it will be with us for a while. It’s got a lot of soft top layers that will soften further and in a few months, it will be as comfortable as a mattress ever gets.

Sometimes during the middle of the night, with my left hip throbbing (I’m a left side sleeper and no matter how hard I try, I can’t convince myself there’s any other way to be comfortable) from the pressure on the sciatic nerves, I reconfigured the bed so I would pretty much have to sleep on my back, like it or not. That’s the advantage of an adjustable bed. You can make it the perfect place to watch TV or read or chat or any other thing you and your mate — or cat or dog or kids or everybody in one great heap — can do whatever. Or, in my case, sleep on my back which is the only way I can sleep that will get me out of bed able to stand up and limp.

I finally realized my back is too far gone. No mattress is going to solve the problem. The damage is severe, permanent, not repairable. There are no drugs to make the pain go away and no exercise will do more than ease it temporarily.

Moving around helps more than anything else — so part of the problem of going to bed for me is staying in a single position makes my back hurt worst. There have been many evenings when I’ve wondered if it’s worth going to bed.

I’ve developed a serious fear about going to bed.

Then, there are nightmares. These are dreamscapes of reality. Since November 2016, I have almost continuous and nearly real nightmares. These are utterly different than my old nightmares which were typically about stress at work — or my father.

These new anxiety dreams are about The World. It is falling to pieces. I travel someplace beautiful only to realize it is crumbling as I watch. Tall buildings fall. Cliffs collapse. The river turns an ugly glowing green. Fish float to the surface. Trees fall over.

I have political dreams. The most terrifying creature in my dreams used to be my father or some dreadful boss at work. Now? It’s you-know-who and his band of sickos. That DJT is a narcissistic sociopath we already know — but who are those people who (apparently) eagerly serve him?

What are they? Are they even human?

I’m ready to travel into the past, outer space, or some imaginary parallel universe. This one isn’t working for me.

A QUINTESSENTIAL NIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

A quintessential night and I’m too tired to hold my eyes open.

The quintessential night. My back hurt when I got into bed. I hurt slightly less when I turned on my left side but a few hours later the dull, throbbing ache had moved from quintessential to OWWWWW.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Only one thing helps and that’s moving the bed into an almost sitting position, taking much more aspirin than I should, a couple of tranquilizers (to get the muscles to calm down) and passing out for a couple of hours. I was really counting on NO phone calls and NO visitors. Lucky me. None showed up and Garry, one of the rare moments in our lives, got up before me.

Parked cars

By the time I got up, other than being zonked from an OD of over-the-counter medications, I was not screaming in pain. I wonder how much longer I can go like this?

Quick trip to the grocery. Frozen pizza for dinner. I was in no mood for cooking.

And it’s probably time for a new mattress. It has been 15 years and even a latex foam mattress grows weary.

The problem is, I’m weary. Trying to avoid getting whiny about it, as a life, this sort of sucks. Between the fibromyalgia, arthritis, heart, and a general sense of decrepitude, this is the quintessential stage when all the things that are wrong with me gang up and say “GOTCHA!”

I’m sure by this afternoon, I’ll be in a better place. Or maybe tomorrow. But right now, on a day that is the first cool and comfortable one in weeks, I HURT.

Just saying. And I really need to spend an hour in the grocery store, too. That will probably help. I may not want to do it, but going out and doing something helps. I hate the process, but the results are usually (overall) pretty good.

THE BALM OF WOE – Marilyn Armstrong

 There’s no making up for a lifetime of too little sleep.

A while ago, I asked Garry if he thought I would ever catch up on the years of very little or no sleep.

He said “no” and I think the same goes for him. We lived for many decades on short hours and long days. I still don’t sleep well.

There’s no way to make up for a lifetime of lost sleep. Some morning’s are better than others, but in the end, there’s always tiredness, the wistful feeling a couple more hours of sleep would have been so nice.

Have you ever met a dog with insomnia?

In answer to this morning’s question, I think the last time I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to dive into life was before my son was born — more than 49 years ago …

Come Sleep, O Sleep …

Sir Philip Sidney

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.


NOTE: If you read this sonnet aloud, “press” in Elizabethan English was pronounced “preese” to rhyme with release. At least, that’s what they told me in college.

NO TIME TO SLEEP – Marilyn Armstrong

Brain to Marilyn: Hey, get up. I’ve got stuff to do.

Marilyn to Brain: Shut up. I’m tired. Let me sleep or I swear I’ll take a pill and shut you down.

Brain (sullen): Fine. Be that way.

Marilyn drifts off to sleep for half an hour.

Brain: How about that dream I sent you eh?

Marilyn: That was horrible. Why did you do that?

Brain: I thought it was cool the way I turned butterflies into flying monsters. You didn’t like it?

Marilyn: No, I did not like it. And right now, I don’t like you.

Brain to Marilyn: Logic and Emotion are going at it again. Wow, this one’s a real knock down drag out fight. Loud, huh.

Marilyn to Logic and Emotion: If you guys don’t cut it out, I’m going to stop this car and you are both getting a time-out.

Logic and Emotion in chorus: HE STARTED IT MOM!

Marilyn to Logic and Emotion: I don’t care who started it. SHUT UP! I need sleep!

Logic and Emotion together (meekly): Sorry Mom. Don’t be mad …

Brain to Marilyn: I have a message from Spine. She says you need to take something for pain. Spine is unhappy.

Marilyn to Brain: Spine is always unhappy.

Brain to Marilyn: Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Oh, and Bladder needs a trip to the bathroom.

Marilyn: Oh fine.

Muttering all the way, Marilyn gets up, hauls self to bathroom. Comes back with Tylenol. Takes pills, crawls into bed pulling covers over head. Sighs and settles into the embrace of the most comfortable bed in the world.

Brain to Marilyn: Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a story! How about you write about our morning chats, huh? Wouldn’t that be neat? Come on, get up before you forget everything. Lazy daisy get your butt outta bed.

Marilyn to Brain: I haven’t had 6 hours of sleep yet. I’m too tired to write.

Brain to Marilyn: You are never too tired to write! Get up, get up, it’s morning.

Sounds: Dogs howling, yapping, more howling.

Marilyn: Can you make the dogs shut up?

Brain: Sorry, no direct access to doggie brains.

Marilyn to Brain: Okay. You win. I’m up, I’m up. Coffee. I hope we aren’t out of half and half. I’m never going to get a whole night’s sleep. I’m going to die of permanent, chronic sleep deprivation. I hope you are all proud of yourselves.

The mournful howl of canines is heard in the background. Day has begun. Soon there will be coffee and all will be well. Tired, but well.

Conference!