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National Editorials & Columns

Do not go gentle into that good night

I have never kept a normal bedtime schedule for my entire adult life. To me, the grandest ideal of being an adult is the freedom to choose my own bedtime. That, and maybe eating Oreo cookies and pizza rolls in mass quantities with nobody’s permission but my own.

My bad bedtime habits began in my more formative years in college and carried on with me well into the prime of my life. This was enabled tenfold after I met my Christine, especially since she works nights. Since neither one of us relished the grim prospect of going to bed as soon as she got home, our bedtime was usually somewhere between the time they stop airing syndicated episodes of “CSI” and start running infomercials about Arkansas timeshares.

However, the moon has shifted and the planets have aligned in such a way that Christine no longer has to work nights.

Instead, she now works early in the morning, which means she has to readjust her bedtime to better accommodate her sleep cycle. This basically means I need to do the same thing as well.

I’m not complaining (that much), but I am a man of routine. It’s difficult for me to change — literally — overnight. Our new bedtime is midnight, and that makes me feel 80 years old just typing it.

I have had a few midnight trial runs so far. Some involved sleeping pills, others involved booze and in other cases a combination of the two. All resulted in the same conclusion: lying in bed with my eyes plastered open, staring at the red digitized numbers on my alarm clock and thinking — down to the minute — how many hours of sleep I would get if I fell asleep this moment.

And wondering in my state of chronic insomnia just how many pizza rolls I would normally be eating at 1:30 a.m. and speculating as to what crimes David Caruso is solving in Miami on my television.

Midnight to me is my kind of hour. The way I feel at midnight is the way most of society feels at noon. At midnight the Sandman needs a lot of sand to put this Sanders to sleep.

The new midnight referendum has changed my normal nightly routine that I grew accustomed to in the last 16 years of exercising poor sleeping habits.

Now I am in bed at midnight, which means no more late-night snacks and no more late-night showers.

It’s like my wife is treating me like a gremlin all of the sudden.

We have managed to reach a few compromises along the way.

Since I don’t recognize breakfast as a meal, the three meals I have each day consist of lunch, dinner and a small battery of snacks, many of which are pizza-based or the byproduct of pizza. It’s not that I can’t eat pizza rolls in bed. I can, but doing so is very messy, difficult to do in the dark and hard not to choke on when lying down. Frantically shaking Christine awake and having her give me the Heimlich maneuver is not my definition of getting a good night’s rest.

For me, going to sleep is the hardest thing I do on any given day. My body only wants to sleep when it needs to meet a work obligation (and this explains why I am starting to doze off right now). Considering my surly and demeaning predisposition toward labor, this should come as no surprise.

So far the midnight bedtime has been an aggravating ordeal to overcome.

It’s a sad state of affairs to admit that my insomnia is something that I truly lose sleep over.

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