Insomnia can strike at any age but seems more common once you turn 55.
Perhaps arthritis visits and you feel as if you've been run over by a Mack truck. Or you get cramps. Or restless leg syndrome. Your leg wants to hike the Blue Mountains while the rest of you is in your pajamas and eye shades curled up in bed behind blackout curtains.
Retirement is supposed to be a time to enjoy life, to sleep in. I'm practicing for retirement on weekends for three more years, so I'll be prepared. So why am I up at 3 a.m. on Facebook sharing pictures of kittens? Or arguing politics with a stranger from Kalamazoo?
Sometimes the culprit is an overactive brain. We have a project due that could change the course of the free world.
Or we worry the Social Security we have saved during 40 years of hard work will be ripped away.
To try to get to sleep we count sheep. We follow the herd from our home through town, halting a long line of traffic, and now the drivers are laying on their horns.
Some nights you have sweet dreams. You are frolicking in a meadow with a forever smiling golden retriever. Other nights you have not-so-sweet dreams. You're driving a combine that clings to the side of wheat cliffs near Dayton, except you're behind a team of horses that are "crop dusting."
Another item that can keep you up is noisy neighbors. Maybe they love music. Or trucks. Or both. They like going on drives in "the truck" and rumbling home at midnight, sitting in the driveway, truck rat-a-tat-tatting in neutral, as they listen to their favorite song about how their hound dog ran off with their wife and a band of midget wrestlers.
Some of us in retirement surrender to insomnia. We run up the white flag. We join 6 a.m. coffee clubs where we used to solve world problems but now get run over by them as if they were sheep the size of a Studebaker.
Often, people will resort to sleep aids or melatonin to cure insomnia. But some of us want a more simple, pill-free life. We take our "sheep" for long walks, or count backwards from 1,000 in German.
If our spouse snores, we count out loud. Not that Wonder, my wife, snores — I am lucky in that regard. It is mostly her that is pushing me off my back onto my side so I quit "sawing logs."
"If all the logs you saw could be turned into lumber, we'd have the biggest house in the county," she says.
The good thing about retirement is we have more time to recover from insomnia. We can model ourselves after old Fluffy and take cat naps. Sometimes our spouse will wonder why we are curled up on the living room carpet in a sunbeam.
More often we fall asleep in our favorite chair, or in line at the supermarket, or as I like to call it the good to middlin' market. It's the price you pay for getting up at 3 in the morning to argue politics with strangers from Kalamazoo.