Saturday, July 02, 2005

Really, I couldn't have asked for a more compatible wife. She likes games, she speaks geek, and she laughs at (some of) my jokes. Additionally, she has skills that I do not possess like being able to fix things, and cook stuff. Also, she has sex with me. So, it's clear that I married a goddess and I'm not going to complain.

That being said, allow me to complain.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a crappy sleeper. Sometimes it takes me a long time to fall asleep. Other times I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, and often I just wake up too damn early. It's a constant battle to get enough sleep. My main opponent in this battle is my brain. It likes to take these nighttime hours to think about work, or unpleasant projects that need attention, or things that are going awry in my life. I hate having my mind race, trying to solve problems, while I'm trying to fall asleep. Totally frustrating.

So, long ago, I made a decision that once I climbed into bed, I didn't want to hear any bad news, or any review any projects, or discuss parts of the house that may be falling apart. The bed was to be my special happy place, free of all issues requiring thought.

This has kind of been working for me, except for one teensy-weensy problem. Let's call this problem, "Wife".

"Wife" has the opposite approach about going to bed. She likes to review everything going wrong in her life right before rolling over and clocking 8 hours of non-stop sleep. As near as I can tell, her preferred sleepytime routine is this:

1) Get into bed.
2) Sigh dramatically
3) Stare into space, conspicuously thinking and solving problems
4) Get out a pen and paper and construct a to-do list. It usually has a stunning mix of short-term projects, long-term projects, and mystery items on it. Like this:
- Replace sandals
- Replace backyard deck
- Husband?
- Exercise more
- Solve world hunger
- Buy tampons
- Arsenic!
5) Contemplate reviewing list with me. (She knows that I hate this, but sometimes she just has to share)
6) Pick up one of the following:
- A book about some project or serious world-issue
- Some puzzle (e.g. crossword, scrabble puzzles, etc)

Then, boom! Assuming that I'm not pawing at her, she goes right to sleep. It's totally inconcievable.

Even just seeing her construct her to-do list drives me nuts. I have to hide my eyes from it and be sure NOT to ask what she's writing. Must! Avert! Gaze! No good can come of me seeing The List. Every once in a while, she'll actually pop out of bed to go perform one of her action items. Mind boggling! I have to restrain myself from asking what she's doing because that's invariably leads into her talking about her to-do list which invariably leads to me staring at the inside of my eyelids for hours on end.

Aside from that, she is a top-notch wife.


Eponymous Pseudonym said...

Mike, I recently read an interesting chapter in a social psychology textbook that may prove relevant here.

The chapter is about something called ironic process theory, the idea that multiple processes are running in our brains, and often the ones that we try to suppress actually respond by reasserting themselves more forcefully. The key condition which enables this to occur is high cognitive load. The more you have on your mind, the more likely you are to be victimized by "ironic" mental processes.

One proposed way to deal with this annoying phenomenon is paradoxical intention, which is sort of using "reverse psychology" to dupe your own brain. Here is a passage from the book:

"In a test of whether insomnia could be ironically engineered, participants were told either to fall asleep or to stay awake when they were or were not under cognitive load.... where cognitive load was low, participants who tried to fall asleep predictably nodded off more quickly than participants who tried to stay awake. However... where cognitive load was high, the reverse occured. Participants who tried to stay awake actually nodded off more quickly than participants who tried to fall asleep. The practical implications are clear. If your noisy neighbors are throwing a party late at night, you should struggle to stay awake." [emphasis mine]

Short of that, try counting genetically identical sheep clones, in binary.

Mike said...

Tyson, I may give this a try some night when I'm particularly addled, but I must warn you/me, that I am EXCELLENT at staying awake. I may be an outlying data point on their study.

Leesa said...

I have the same sleeping problem. If I go to bed and it's completely quiet, all I do is Think & Plan. I usually leave the TV on very low. I can fall asleep to that. I'm definitely a crappy sleeper and rarely fall asleep before 2am.

Mike said...

2am? Ouch! I hope you get to sleep in.

Leesa said...

Well I'm blessed enough that I don't have to work outside the home, so I don't have to get up early. BUT, the dogs and horses usually want me up before I want to.

Mike said...

Dogs and horses, eh? I feel the same way about my child/job/Sun.