Turn Off the Light! I’m Trying to Sleep

When I woke up at 4:45 a.m. to go to the bathroom, it was already light, as if the world was saying, “Get up, let’s go.”

I replied, “No, it’s too early.” Darned daylight savings time.

I’m a person very much affected by light. Dark=sleep. Light=wake. I fall asleep at movies, plays and planetarium shows, but I have a hard time sleeping in motels where lights shine from the microwave, TV and smoke alarm, and there’s always a streak of light shining through a crack in the curtains or under the door. I drape towels over every light source I can reach and see the light still shining through the white terrycloth. And those little night lights some places put in the bathroom? No, thank you.

At home in the woods, it was dark in my bedroom at night until the hedge got trashed in a storm and I had it trimmed. That night, I got into bed, turned off the lamp, and thought, What’s that light? I opened the curtains and peered out. It was the streetlight at the far corner of my driveway. Blinds and lacy curtains barely muted it. A couple weeks later, I thought, What’s that light? The moon. You can’t turn off the moon. Shut my eyes, face the other way, try to sleep. We’ve got some bright moon around here. When I’m out in the hot tub at midnight, it’s like a football stadium lit up for a night game.

When my mother-in-law lived here, she covered her bedroom window with duct tape. I haven’t gone that far yet, but this morning I finally unwrapped the sleep mask I got at a seminar on sleep problems over a year ago. I was always nervous about covering my eyes. Might miss something. But I was desperate. I slipped it on. It felt soft, silky. It was dark. I went back to sleep until 7:00. Much better.

This close to the 49th parallel, our light and dark cycles are different from back home in San Jose. Our Fourth of July fireworks don’t start until 10 p.m., when it’s almost dark. And it’s light about 4:30 a.m. right now. The farther north one goes, the more pronounced the change. When we vacationed at Whistler in British Columbia a few years back, it barely got dark at all. I can’t imagine living in the parts of Alaska where it stays light in summer and dark in winter. I’d have to get out the duct tape for sure.

I love light–in the daytime. I hate winter, when we have 16 hours of darkness, and I appreciate not having to drive to church in the dark for early Mass on Sundays, but this daylight at 4:45, that’s crazy. Give me my mask. It’s not morning until I say so.

Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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