It’s 3am. That’s it now. You won’t go back to sleep till twenty minutes before you have to get up.
You need the loo. Even though you cut out your bedtime cup of tea – your only joy – ages ago. You used to think, ‘Ah, I’ll just pop to the loo and then slip gently back to sleep.’ Maybe it happened, once. So you cling to that dream.
Which almost makes it worse, when you don’t go back to sleep.
In the morning, your Fitbit, or whatever, will tell you you’ve had 5 hours 34 minutes sleep. You don’t know whose heart it was measuring, but you saw the time at 3.42. 4.13, 4.51, 5.23. That’s the worst one, because you know this is your last chance to drop off before the alarm goes.
Your partner is breathing. How dare they?
Maybe one of the kids woke you up. Maybe the cat scratched on the door. Maybe the dog whimpered in his sleep. Maybe a butterfly flapped its wings in bloody Brazil.
Brazil. The rainforest. The planet. The future of humanity.
Your friend’s mum just died. You are so sad for her. You mourn the lady you never met, part of the generation that is now beginning to pass.
You must ring your dad. Or your sister. Or whichever family member you feel most guilty about not being in touch with lately. All of them. You’re such a terrible person.
Fuck. Did you send that email? Did you follow up with that client?
Have you done their spellings? Why wasn’t your daughter invited to that sleepover? Did you get your son’s school jumper out of the wash?
No. Well, you’re downstairs now. You have a drink of hot water, that will definitely get you back to sleep. You do some deep breathing, because that’s as far as you’ve got with learning meditation. You do it in the kitchen to trick your body into relaxing by not being in bed, so when you tiptoe back upstairs it won’t notice and will ease into sweet slumber.
You need the loo. Fucking hot water. Your feet are cold on the bathroom floor. Where the hell is your other slipper?
You might as well empty the dishwasher since you’re up. You do it slowly, slowly, gently placing each fork in the drawer so you don’t wake anyone up. You wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
You’re going to ring the doctor in the morning. They must have found the cure for the 3am wakeys by now. They’ll just tell you to try antihistamines again. Or meditation. Or to stop wasting their time when you’re not really ill.
Your liver does ache, mind. You need to get that mole checked. Your glands are definitely up.
Maybe it’s the menopause. You meant to google it. Or ask around your friends. You mustn’t touch your phone. Like blue light is the thing that will keep you awake.
You hang the rest of the wash up and put another one on. Delayed timer, so you don’t wake anyone up. At least you’ve got a head start on the day.
Oh look, there’s the day. The sky is beginning to get light. It’s beautiful. You thought the first time.
Birdsong. So beautiful. So that’s it for the night. There’s no point trying to get back to sleep now.
You miss 3am now. Ah, 3am. Silent. Dark. Hopeful.
How will you get through today?
The same way you always get through.
Drink coffee. Eat crap. Plan to go to bed at 8pm. Tell your children you’re too tired to play, or read a story, or remember to take their school jumper out the wash.