The NY Times recently published a worthy rejoinder to all the recent hubbub about the Mancession with a look into what has become something of an epidemic of sleeplessness among American women, “Sleep Medication: Mother’s New Little Helper.”
We’re fond on this site of using 3am mental traffic as a barometer of what’s really going on inside a person – what keeps you up, in other words – mainly because sleep (and dreaming!), as an area of our lives not subject to control, is a window into reality, who we actually are as opposed to who we want others/ourselves to think we are, God included. If there’s any validity to such a metric, then it would appear that the myriad double standards thrust upon (and, let’s face it, sometimes embraced) by women these days are wreaking havoc on them internally. Indeed, the data below is staggering, and one wonders how much worse it’ll need to get before the levee breaks. That is, as paralyzed as our men may be at the moment, the “deadliness of doing” appears to be ratcheting up female anxiety to such an extent that it’s manifesting itself physically, ht PNW:
For some women, the drug of choice is Lunesta; for others, melatonin. [Chronic restless sleeper and working mother, Cheryl Downs] McCoy knows a mother of two who takes Xanax a few times a week, “but she worries about addiction so some nights she just doesn’t sleep at all rather than take it,” she said. “I think she saw the irony in not sleeping because she was anxious about taking an anti-anxiety medicine in order to sleep.”
Nearly 3 in 10 American women fess up to using some kind of sleep aid at least a few nights a week, according to “Women and Sleep,” a 2007 study by the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit research group.
One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest. It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi.
Sleep-medicine practices are overwhelmingly dominated by female patients. Dr. Nancy Collop, director of the Emory Sleep Center in Atlanta, said three out of four insomnia patients at the clinic are women.
Meg Wolitzer, 52, a novelist who half-jokingly named her blog “Written on Ambien,” said: “Waking up in the middle of the night is the problem of every woman I know. The minute I had children I was like the mother listening in the woods for the bear. I don’t know if men are less vigilant, but my husband doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night. He could sleep in a dunking booth.”
Some women blame their own perfectionism. “A lot of women I see don’t prioritize,” said Shelby Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. “Is it important to have dinner on the table at night? Yes. Must it be a five-course meal? Absolutely not.”
Ana Maria Alessi, 50, a single mother from Maplewood, N.J., who works full time, is a 3 a.m. waker. “I think so much of what drives it is our need for control,” she said. “We feel like it’s our job to anticipate any variant on The Day, much less The Life — If it rains will I need to change my schedule so I can drop off my kid and he doesn’t need to ride his bike in a downpour? We try to ward off anything that can interfere with the Good Day.”
Ms. Wolitzer, the novelist, sees a disconnect between women’s day and night selves, with no sensible transition. “We’re supposed to be these crazed people all day and then suddenly become Buddhists at night,” she said.
As if we needed any further reminder that control is a killer, not to mention the opposite/enemy of faith (and rest). Some would say that “do not worry” is just a crushing expression of the Law as “be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect”–to which you might as well add the imperative, “go to sleep” or “just relax!”. Would if I could! Meaning, insomnia is so clearly not a matter of people needing to try harder.I suppose passivity is uncomfortable, regardless of how soft your mattress is.
Once again, the areas of our lives that are impervious to management can’t help but point us beyond strategy, or even medication (as helpful and good as that can be). Taken seriously, they stubbornly uncover our unifying weakness and bring us to a place where the notion of a savior might begin to make sense. Our need being all that God requires, after all.