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At this point in my life, sleep usually comes easily.
I’ve not always been so lucky.
During much of the 1990s, I worked at The Associated Press in Chicago, a busy, 24-7 news bureau.
There, employees with families tended to get regular, daytime schedules.
I was one of a handful of single employees who was tossed about the schedule to fill in around them.
My shift, if it could be called that, changed dramatically from week to week. I worked overnights, weekends, started shifts at 6 a.m. and then, later in the week, 5 p.m.
I loved the work itself and the city of Chicago, but the irregular schedule made my life miserable.
It also took a toll on my health.
Later, I would learn that I also had a pretty strong case of sleep apnea that aggravated matters.
It took me about a year after I left the AP to normalize, and I’ve never since taken a good night’s sleep for granted.
Last weekend, however, I had a rare sleepless night.
I was physically exhausted, having been helping my boyfriend, Derek; his brother, Tom; and our friends Steve and Leslie finish reroofing Derek’s house.
I probably overconsumed caffeinated beverages that day, and my mind raced with work projects for the newspaper and details of social engagements to come.
It was 3:30 or later before I finally drifted to sleep, only to rise around 7 to take advantage of the morning coolness to lay shingles. I struggled the rest of the day.
It’s funny how occasional sleeplessness that strikes in the morning is different.
A few days after my late night insomnia, I awoke around 4:30 a.m., tried to get back to sleep, and couldn’t. Instead, I just got up and got busy.
I brewed a pot of coffee (I know, more over-caffeination), emptied the dishwasher and pulled out my laptop computer to get some work done.
Instead of feeling miserable, I felt energized by the early start in my day. I worked by the light of a single lamp and listened to the morning anthem of waking songbirds.
I’m not one of those whom you’ll ever find bragging about how little sleep I can get by with.
A good night’s rest is critical to me, and I strive for eight full hours every time my head hits the pillow.
But if I could pick and choose my restlessness, give me a couple of pre-dawn hours any day of the week.
There’s just a magic to it.