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“Do you know that awesome feeling when you get into bed, fall right to sleep, stay asleep all night, and wake up feeling refreshed? … Me neither.”

So goes the joke. Here’s another: “I’m neither an early bird nor a night owl. I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon.”

For me, the best sleep joke of all: “I don’t want to sleep like a baby. I just want to sleep like my husband.”

My cracking of sleep jokes requires a bit of back story:

All my adult life, I’ve spent my nights running back and forth to the bathroom; a chronic condition, variously diagnosed and ineffectively treated. On a bad night, I can be up every 15 minutes. On a good night, I’m only up every hour.

Pills have provided minimal help. A “bladder pacemaker” implanted in my hip—no help at all. The same is true of homeopathic remedies, therapeutic teas, meditation, hypnosis, yoga, qigong, acupuncture, numerous forms of healing touch…. In my desperation, I tried one medical intervention that, if described in detail, would make your skin crawl.

Along with this strange nocturia, I suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, a nerve condition, typically worse at night than in daytime. Irritating sensations in my legs cause them to move relentlessly, seeking relief. The affliction, which runs in my family, set in around 20 years ago, when I was pregnant with Nathan.

The good news is, a certain medicine does ease RLS symptoms. The bad news is, my body is growing resistant to the drug, even as the condition worsens with age. So, the dosage is creeping up over time, intensifying the side effects. In early morning, I’m dopier than the seventh dwarf in “Snow White.”

For me, every night is an adventure. Meanwhile, my dear hubby sleeps beside me like the proverbial log, providing a few snorts and rumbles for my entertainment.

* * *

We’ve all got our problems. Mine don’t make me special. So, why am I bothering to tell you all this? Bear with me, I’m getting there.

A month or so ago, my urologist prescribed a medicine meant to prevent the bladder from producing urine overnight. We both thought it might be a “silver bullet.”

But my body has a mind of its own. Instead of shutting down, my bladder did the opposite: It went into hyperdrive. After several nights in a row with practically no sleep, I called my doctor and halted the experiment.

That night was another tough one, because the drug was still in my system. But strangely, the night after that, I made only three trips to the bathroom.

The third night, I was up only twice.

It has now been two weeks since I quit that dud of a drug, and I’ve never been up more than three times per night. Once, I even got 4½ hours of uninterrupted sleep. That hasn’t happened since I was in college, back in the ‘80s. When I roll out of bed each morning, I have more energy than a kid on a trampoline.

I can’t explain any of this. Neither can my doctor. I’m in heaven.

Who knows how long this heaven will last? But in this moment, I’m grateful beyond words for the miraculous gift of good sleep.

* * *

Recently many of us celebrated Thanksgiving, a traditional time to express gratitude for all that helps us survive and thrive (including sleep!).

In that spirit, I’d like to offer you these random takeaways about gratitude, inspired by my sleep saga:

  1. Life is a gift, but only if we choose to unwrap it. Gratitude rips the paper off.
  2. Gratitude will keep us going when we’ve expended all other fuel. Even if we’ve been running on fumes for decades, gratitude will keep us powering through.
  3. Gratitude never gives up. It’s always searching for, and finding, more to be grateful for. It provides its own reward.
  4. Gratitude is the reservoir for hope.
  5. Gratitude sees no order of magnitude in miracles. Indeed, it regards everything as a miracle, in its way, and looks deeply for wonders in disguise.
  6. Gratitude is radical acceptance of the world as it is. Even mistakes can be marvels.
  7. Gratitude never gets old. Like a child, it’s always ready for the next surprise.
  8. Gratitude’s no joke. (But it sure is fun!)

Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash

Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.

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