“I’d kill for a good night’s sleep.”
How many times have you heard that? Or said it yourself?
It’s after two a.m., or thereabouts. I really don’t know as I’ve been roused from a Big Pharma-induced sleep, (Xanax, Seroquel), by the sound of my husband shuffling into the room like an extra from a George Romero movie.
The bed creaks…our shitty mattress emitting a sound like crackling bubble wrap as my exhausted husband crawls in next to me. I hold my breath for a few seconds, then…“You ok, babe?”
He doesn’t answer. Rather, lets out a sound very near to a whimper as he immediately gets back up again. I lift my head from the pillow, and in the gloom of our bedroom, dimly lit by a street lamp outside our home, see him slowly, almost painfully…make his way from the room. A light goes on in our home office and I lay back down, so frightened for the man I’ve been married to forever that I pull the covers over my head. So ashamed that I cannot help this man who I dearly love…and who is my very heart.
According to The Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. suffer from a sleep disorder.
Insomnia is the most common specific sleep disorder, with short term issues reported by about 30% of adults and chronic insomnia by 10%. My husband’s condition is acute and chronic.
What’s more, 4.7% of sufferers reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month. “Drowsy driving” is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually, in the United States.
And then, adding insult to serious injury, there’s Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), with 9 to 21% of women and 24 to 31% of men, afflicted. OSA is a condition that requires one to hook one’s self up to a contraption called a “CPAP” machine, which has at its core a long, elephantine tube that attaches to the face by way of a chin strap and mask. GOOD TIMES!
All of the above gadgetry is to help the sufferer breathe more easily during sleep — and lest you think I’m discounting it, I’m not, as a CPAP does work for many individuals living with OSA.
We had a CPAP machine. Unfortunately, it’s somewhere in our laundry room gathering serious dust as the trick here is, in order for a CPAP to help one’s quality of sleep, the afflicted individual has to actually be able to fall asleep And therein lies the proverbial rub.
I cannot pinpoint the exact day/week/year when, for us, night time turned into a nightmare. My husband was never what you’d call a “good sleeper,” but at some point, his condition became progressively worse. Scarily so. Just writing about it heightens my anxiety.
As a screenwriter, and possibly to self-soothe, I wrote a screenplay called “Dead Tired,” a female-driven thriller I liken to a vampire tale…without an actual vampire.
I would love to share more about my script, but night is falling…and my husband needs me.
Sherry McGuinn is a longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.