There’s a reason they call it “falling” asleep, and it’s not because my eyelids flutter closed, blocking out the light, and the view of my darkened bedroom.
Sleep has never been something I’m particularly fond of, largely because there are so many things to do, read, try, write about, and also because my mind tends to race at the times when most people are turning out their lights, and cocooning themselves in soft blankets, but lately, I’ve been craving sleep more, and getting better rest than I remember getting for most of my life, and while sometimes I still have a hard time giving up the night, I’ve developed a bit of a routine to help myself along.
First, I make sure Fuzzy is in bed first. He, like many men, falls asleep anywhere, and easily. If he is already wrapped in sleep’s embrace, I can close my eyes, curl up against him, and match my breathing to his.
Then, I make sure the dogs are in the right places. Miss Cleo sleeps either under the covers at our feet, or in the cavity in the headboard where we’ve stuffed a bolster so that the pillows don’t disappear. She likes to burrow. Zorro generally curls up against my side, in my armpit, or against my abdomen (the latter is preferred during certain times of the month), on top of the covers, while I’m under them.
Once everyone is in position, I close my eyes, and slowly clench and unclench every muscle in my body, beginning with my toes, and working up to my eyebrows. Most of the time, I’m asleep before I get past my buttocks, but sometimes my mind refuses to find a quiet place, and I have to bring out the big guns.
For me, that means counting. I begin at the number 100, and count backwards, making sure I’m focusing my entire attention on each number, spending an entire breath on it, visualizing it. If I allow a stray thought into my conscious mind, I start over, increasing the number by 25 (so round three would start at 150). Most nights, I’m out before I get to seventy-five. Some nights, my starting number goes over 300. This is rare.
What never changes though, is the mental and physical letting go I do as I get that sinking feeling, the one that means sleep is rising up to greet me, and will guide me into its murkiest depths, only to push me back toward the surface as morning approaches.
Some people fall asleep.
Me? I dive into it.