(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Maybe I’ve always had mixed feelings about nighttime—or maybe those feelings didn’t begin until after my brother Scott and I saw a man in our bedroom when we were two and four.

As far as I know, that’s as scary as this story gets, but I don’t think that memory is ever very far from my consciousness. There’s not much to tell, really, except we both agree that it happened. One night, in the brief period when we lived in a rental house before moving to our own home, my brother stage-whispered to me from his twin bed, “Trina, there’s a man in the room. Hide under the covers.”

I hid and eventually fell back asleep. The next morning we both told the story to our mother, who doubted it until she discovered the cellar door unlocked. Though we had just moved to a town of no bigger than 600, apparently a man who was losing his battle with mental illness had a habit of entering peoples’ homes in the middle of the night. One resident woke to see a lit cigarette glowing in the kitchen and discovered the man relaxing at the table.

My brother Scott and I in 1964.

Put my early experience together with a vivid imagination and my quicksilver ADD mind, and you can guess that I didn’t really grow up falling asleep too well. My increasing levels of nearsightedness probably didn’t help either. Even though I lived in two more homes before I left for college and then again to strike out on my own for good, my insomnia never abated in my family’s homes.

Luckily, the worst of my insomnia ended with that final move. No idea why—I’ve lived in six places since—all different as far as I can tell.

Which is not to say I’ve made complete peace with the night.

First of all, let me say that I love staying up at night—it’s not just about avoiding falling asleep. I am the queen of getting a second wind around bedtime. However, I don’t really like mornings and I do “get” that if I stay up late all the time, then those mornings will feel even more unpleasant than they normally do.

Second of all, I know that sleeping with my husband makes a big difference. I’m lucky that I haven’t had to sleep alone much in past couple decades. Plus, he got me Lasik surgery which means I can see if any bad guys are in the house—haven’t seen any, thank you very much! Still, he’ll tell you that everyone in my family of origin—including my father, mother, and yes, my brother Scott, as well as our own two children—has or had some problems with sleep.

He likes to say something such as, “What do you people have against going to sleep? I like going to sleep—why don’t you?”

Good question. You see, I like sleep a lot—I just don’t like going to sleep.

After you go through all that sleeplessness when your kids are young—and then again when they’re teenagers and young adults—you really learn to like that sleep. Not waiting for someone to come home and/or living with someone on a vastly different time clock was one of the greatest benefits of our short empty nest period. Doesn’t it seem so ironic, though, that the time when my body slept best happened when I couldn’t sleep much because of my kids?

Let’s just say that lately we’ve been working on improving our sleep setting and our habits since these days it doesn’t seem to take much of a distraction to interrupt our sleep. First we had to deal with old dogs that had to go out in the middle of the night and who played musical dog beds all night—without the music, of course. Then we had to deal with a puppy—at the same time my back began hurting. Well, the puppy got older but then Sherman’s back started hurting, too.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

So our latest step in the quest for a good night’s sleep was saying goodbye to our waterbed (with much regret!) and hello to a new mattress, box springs, and bed-frame. The almost eight-week transitional process started when we put the mattress in the waterbed frame (can’t we ever pick anything not on back order??!!), then continued when we set up the new frame and added the box springs, and ended when I also got fitted sheets (never needed those before) and a new comforter.

Even if I’ll never quite forget my early experience, we are finally enjoying sweeter dreams.

Crescent moon on high.
Handful of stars in the sky.
Night—sweet guard of dreams.

by Trina (Lange) Lambert, Age 10