Not Tonight

Navigating the bedroom.

By Paget Pizitz

I’m writing this column after two sleepless nights. It’s amazing how sleep deprivation takes a toll on the mind. Monday I prepaid for gas and drove away without filling the tank. Nothing makes me feel more blonde than driving off only to run out of gas a quarter mile from the Chevron. Apparently the new medicine Louis the Cat is taking has turned him into Nosferatu. He sleeps under the couch all day and begins to stir right as the sun goes down. Three days ago, I awoke to LTC pouncing on my stomach and placing a half mutilated but still-breathing frog on my face. As an added note, you should know the only animal to terrify the pajama jeans right off me is a frog. Those sneaky, tailless bastards with their cleft tongues jump and leap when you least expect it; I hate them. I shrieked, leapt out of bed and ran into the bathroom to hyperventilate. All the while, LTC sits on my bed, licking his face and sharpening his razor-like claws. I wonder how a cat who has never been into the wild or roamed the Birmingham public found said frog, then I wonder, are there more? This thought keeps me up at night. I’m pretty certain that when I come home tonight, Count Dracula is going to be converting his cat bed into a coffin while Interview with a Vampire plays on repeat.

This total lack of sleep inspired a thought: how do couples sleep together? Sure, the sex might be amazing, but what about the sleep? Recent studies have shown that the way a couple actually sleeps together affects their happiness, not only in their relationship but as individuals. Think about how generally terrible you feel after a restless night tossing and turning in your bed. Everything seems more complicated, confusing and sometimes more grim the next day. Most people fall into a deeper sleep when alone but, as studies have shown, we prefer to sleep with a partner. I recall the sleepless nights I used to have with my long-term boyfriend in New York. I adored him and wanted to be close to him at night, but something about our sleeping chemistry was off. It’s challenging to adapt to another person’s habits and rhythms as they sleep. I never felt at ease, never felt like I fell into a deep and restful slumber. As  a result, I walked to work each morning like I was trying out as an extra in a B-grade zombie movie. Psychologist Paul C. Rosenblatt says, “Sleeping together is an achievement of coordination on many dimensions.” This means that making sleepy time harmonious requires as much compromise as the trials, tribulations and negations of the actual relationship. Rosenblatt’s belief is that the way a couple sleeps together is a window into that couple’s relationship. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 61 percent of Americans share their bed with a significant other. And while the presence of another person in bed increases the chance of sleep disruption, 62 percent of those polled in the study said they preferred to sleep next to a partner. I think about how nice it is to fall asleep with the person that you love, sleep peacefully and wake feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

Then I think about all those couples out there who truly love one another but have separate bedrooms because their partners toss and turn, snore or prefer different sleeping temperatures. It seems the lack of that closeness would eventually bleed into the closeness of your everyday relationship. However, my mother’s friend and her husband, who are blissfully in love and happy, have been in separate bedrooms for years. She likes to fall asleep watching Golden Girls cuddling her yorkies, and he likes to read food magazines and eat cheese and crackers under the covers.  Everyone has their own way of doing things, and what works for you may not work for everyone else, but such is life.

I think the solution for my next night of peaceful sleep might just be a cat tranquilizer. If I can’t find a way to roofie this vampire cat with it, I may  take it myself. I’ll do just about anything right now to get a solid night’s sleep. If that means cloaking my headboard with garlic, fastening Louis to the bed with a straight jacket and illegally procuring some ketamine from the streets of Birmingham, then so be it.

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