I’ll bet I wouldn’t be nearly so old if I had gotten more sleep over the years.
Shakespeare knew that. “‘Tis sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,” he had Macbeth say. If you don’t get enough sleep, he might have added, you are going to look pretty raveled.
The reason I didn’t get more sleep for 52 years was that my husband talked to me. I rarely go to bed early. He rarely stayed up late. But if I went to bed early and he stayed up late to watch a 1955 science fiction movie, which I hated in 1955, and finally came to bed at midnight, he’d flip on the overhead light, see me sound asleep and ask in great surprise: “Are you asleep?”
When he was away from home and didn’t get in until the wee hours of the morning and the house was completely dark and silent, especially the bedroom, he would turn on the light and exclaim in genuine amazement: “You’re asleep!”
He also felt it was his bounden duty to keep me informed of all activity going on once I started snoring.
“The neighbors are leaving and it’s 4 o’clock in the morning,” he once informed me.
“Didn’t they tell you that’s what they were going to do?”
“Then why did you wake me up to tell me?”
“I thought you’d want to know.”
He once woke me up to ask, “Can you hear that loud music from down the street?”
“No!” I groaned.
“That’s funny,” he said. “I can.”
Once we were on a campout at Fort Cobb State Park and I was deep under.
“It’s lightning,” he announced.
“Is there going to be a bad storm?” I asked, fighting my way back to consciousness.
“I don’t think so. I just thought you’d want to know.”
At home, he woke me up to tell me it was raining and he woke me up to tell me it had stopped raining.
Because of all that sleep deprivation, sometimes when I was reading or watching TV, I would drift off into a delicious nap.
He would come to the door, note that I was dozing happily and reproachfully inquire: “Are you asleep?” his tone of voice implying that I would not get a gold star for good behavior.
I, on the other hand, have great empathy for any sleeper, any time, any place, taking great pains to tiptoe through the room, grab the phone on the first ring and not rattle pans in the kitchen.
This thoughtful behavior was not contagious. My husband awakened me with the news that the mousetrap had gone off, to ask if I were cold — or hot — and to inform me that he was awake.
Maybe he would have urged me to sleep more if I could have convinced him that, given more sleep, I would have had the face of a young Elizabeth Taylor, the body of a Marilyn Monroe, the charm of Miss Manners and been 20 years younger.
That wouldn’t have worked, though, because as soon as I went to sleep he would have awakened me to ask: “Are you awake? I just wanted to check you out and see if anything’s happened yet.”
Looking on the bright side, I probably got more information between midnight and dawn than the average sleeping person.
Mary McClure lives in Lawton.