My 3:30 AM Husband

My 3:30 AM Husband September 24, 2013

True confession: I have a slight case of bigamy going.

Relax. I’ve never actually met my other “husband” in person. Though I have been married to the same man since 1979, I have logged quite a few hours over the years—usually between midnight and 5 a.m.—with my other “husband”, Peter Francis Geraci.

Mr. Geraci is a Midwestern bankruptcy lawyer who runs TV commercials in the long hours between midnight and dawn. Let’s be honest. Our one-way relationship (he talks and I listen) would never work in real life.

The people who buy cheap middle-of-the-night air time in order to shill Mr. Geraci’s law firm know that there are three groups of people awake at 3:30 a.m.: sleepless new moms and dads, midlife women, and his target audience, those being harried by creditors. Worry comes like a wildcat in the middle of the night, and Peter Francis Geraci, calm and wise, is there calmly offering to put the wildcat out of your misery.

I was first introduced to Mr. Geraci when I was a new mom, and visited with him over the years when anxiety over this or that shook me awake in the wee hours. At midlife, I am meeting up with Mr. Geraci once again. He hasn’t aged a bit, and he always says the same calming words every time I see him: “Do you feel trapped by credit cards? Twenty-five thousand on cards now means your minimum is a thousand dollars a month.”

Good to know, Mr. Geraci. But really, I just want a good night’s sleep.

One of the most common physical complaints of women at midlife is poor sleep quality. A recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that over half of all postmenopausal women report sleep woes. Some of us combat these woes by adding prescription hormones, hoping to balance our plummeting estrogen levels and convince our unsettled bodies to get some rest. Others battle middle-of-the-night wakefulness with Tylenol PM or prescription sleeping pills. (I’ll confess to resorting to this measure when I travel, but find the whole process unsatisfying because chemical anesthesia is not the same thing as natural, restorative sleep.) Most of us gut it out, which leads me to believe that Peter Francis Geraci probably has a whole harem of middle-aged virtual wives.

Inadequate sleep is a minx that creates havoc in our waking hours including an increased risk of accidents, an inability to deal with stress, an increased risk of chronic health issues like diabetes and heart disease, poor concentration, and depression. I have one saintly friend who turns the other cheek on the cruel numbers on her digital clock because she is convinced that the middle of the night is the best time of her day to pray: “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” (Ps. 63:6) She intercedes for those on her prayer list, sings bits of psalms she’s committed to memory, and has determined make her nighttime wakefulness quality time in God’s presence.

I’ll confess I’m not like my saintly friend most nights. All I can think about is finding a way to asleep ASAP so I will not turn into a zombie at 2 o’clock the next afternoon. I creep out of bed where Bill is sleeping like a baby, and resign myself to watching the news (and catching up with my favorite bankruptcy lawyer) until I fall asleep for a couple of more hours, usually near dawn. A flickering T.V. in a darkened living room has too often been my drug of choice. Though my sleep-interrupted nights may well be a product of aging and fading hormones, I mark my restlessness as my body’s wordless plea for restoration and for nurture. Mr. Geraci, you seem like a nice guy, but you’re no match for a good night’s sleep.

If you awaken in the middle of the night, what do you do until you fall back asleep? 


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  • Tim

    I hear ya, Michelle. I might try the couch in the other room, but usually nothing really works for me. It’s not as often as it used to be, thankfully.

  • Got up at 3 a.m. today after a restless night. I don’t even remember my dreams this time. The eventual blessing is that after a few days, I’m so exhausted that I collapse into a full night’s sleep. Makes thinking during the day time a chore, though.

    • Michelle Van Loon

      It sure does, James. It’s a tough cycle to be in – days of patchy sleep, followed by a single night of exhaustion.

  • Adriana @ Classical Quest

    When I’m desperate I count to 4,000 by fours.

  • Ericjgray

    My average sleep time is about 6 good hours, and since I am an early riser I’m ready to crash about 9:30 PM. If you do the math… I start waking up around 4 AM. I used to read but this just gets my mind working to hard. Now I just pray and be quiet. I used to get upset about being awake so early, especially when I was out late the night before! I think I’m actually starting to enjoy it and my prayer life has grown too! I take off for the local fitness pool around 5:30 AM to get my blood flowing. I usually feel like a young pup swimming at that time in the morning with all the retired guys who can’t sleep in anymore 🙂