Something curious is happening to me. It’s the opposite of what I thought would happen when I started spending so much time at home. I hope it’s not anything to be too concerned about, but I’m not napping as much as I used to. For most of my life, if I was on the couch watching a TV show, I’d nod off within five minutes.
Napping has never been an issue for me. When I was a high school teacher, I once fell asleep in class while proctoring a statewide exam. The kids were very polite. “I hope we didn’t disturb you yesterday, Mr. Wolfsie,” said one of my students. “We tried to cheat as quietly as we could.”
Until recently, I could take a quick snooze during dinner with friends, at red lights, while waiting for my wife to put on makeup, in line at the bank, or waiting for my turn on “Words with Friends.”
As a result of grabbing the occasional 40 winks, I have missed a few events that in retrospect I probably should have stayed awake for. Here are the top three:
1. My 70th birthday party (I wish they had screamed “Surprise!” louder)
3. The end of my interview with Vice President Pence
Mary Ellen has never quite understood the value of a nap. Personally, I think women are afraid they’re going to miss something … like a sale, or a beautiful sunset, or the plot of a movie. Men don’t care about stuff like this. On the rare occasion that Mary Ellen has fallen asleep during the day, she would awaken with an apology and an explanation for her behavior. “I don’t know what happened. I must be coming down with a bug!” I always had a different attitude when awakening from a short slumber: “Man, that was great. I’m getting better and better at this.”
My inability to nap recently came up during a tele-medicine call with my family physician, but there was some confusion in the conversation. “How are you sleeping?” asked Dr. Coss.
“It’s been rough,” I told him. “Sometimes I’m awake for 8-10 hours in a row.”
“TEN HOURS?” he gasped. “We need to do some testing. How long has this been going on?”
“About four months.”
“Do you toss and turn in bed?”
“Well, I’m not in bed. That’s the problem. I’m watching the news or a movie with my wife. Or having dinner. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The day seems endless.”
“But do you sleep at night?” asked Dr. Coss.
“Yes, I sleep great at night. It’s during the day I can’t sleep. What’s happening to me?”
Dr. Coss said I had to accept that men experience changes in their bodily rhythms as they mature. “While you’re at home this afternoon, I want you to really think about that,” he said. I told him I’d have to sleep on it. Which meant, of course, it would have to wait until that night.
The problem is that summer adds a couple more hours each day when I need to find something to keep me busy, time I would normally be napping. Mary Ellen had a suggestion. “Let’s walk together every afternoon for a couple of miles.”
“Wow that’s a great idea. You never wanted to walk with me before.”
“I know, your snoring annoyed me.”