I’ve read every article I have found on this topic, and I’ve heard every cure imaginable, but I still have insomnia. Most nights I sleep in two four-hour shifts, with two hours in between when I can chat with Australians online. If the planets align, and if I don’t have one too many glasses of wine, I’ll sleep for six hours.  The only time I sleep for seven or eight hours is when I take a sleeping pill.

This has been going on for many years now, and I’ve learned to adapt so that it’s not a problem. In fact, it’s a whole lot less of a problem now that I am retired from paid employment. I’m also single, so I have the luxury of being able to wander about the house in the middle of the night without bothering anyone. Today, though, I’m wondering if insomnia is to blame for my diminishing memory. It would be nice to have something to blame besides my age.

I’ve tried using mnemonic tricks, but remembering someone’s name is mostly just a stab in the dark. Naming shrubs and trees used to be fairly easy when I was a girl guide. Now, though, they are called things like “tall thin tree” or “dark red bush with white flowers.” I have a new next-door neighbour. She is a very nice, friendly, lady and yesterday she asked me the name of one of the trees in my garden. I said I didn’t know. Today she said again how good my garden looks, and asked me the name of a shrub. I said I’d get back to her on that. Pretty soon she’s going to decide that I’m really not too bright.

I was born in the UK, and the British have a thing about names. They like to know the names of all the birds, creatures, and plants in their gardens and neighbourhoods. They also named every river, rock, and lake they found in the empire. It’s a point of pride. My sister in California, on the other hand, has a different take on this. Even though she loves to see birds, she can’t name every one that perches on her deck rail. In fact, she can’t see the upside to filling her mind with that sort of detail. I like that attitude. In fact, now that I think about it, what is the benefit to remembering those details?

I can see the point in naming a shrub if someone else wants to buy one just like it, but otherwise, who really cares? The older I get and the less I sleep, remembering the names of people and things is going to go way down on my list of priorities. I’ll try to get my children’s names right, but even then there are no guarantees.

What I really have to work on is caring less. There really is no shame in calling everyone “my dear,” is there? I could solve the plant-naming problem by writing out the names on little sticks and putting them everywhere in my garden, but that would take a lot of work. Maybe, if I get a good night’s sleep, I will do that.


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  1. I also have a problem with sleeping. Mine however is awakening after only 5 hours. I have decided it isn’t really so bad as I now get to watch the world awaken. I see the sun peeping over the east foothills never missing that first tiny glow of light. I think this is good.

  2. I’m amazed that how many of my friends have the same problem. Every time I mention it, it seems I find a fellow insomniac. I like your perspective, Jane. Maybe I should go for walks in the middle of the night.

    1. Me too anne
      i go to bed late so i fall asleep, wake up at five am, get up refreshed after 5 hours sleep, do a lot of stuff, then want to nap but can’t. i have decided it is aging and go with the flow.


  3. I’m not sure I would go that far. Perhaps your town is safer than mine at night. In any case it’s good hearing from you.

  4. I have been very short-sighted most of my life and partially credit this with my difficulty in recognizing faces. Unfortunately I don’t have such a good excuse for my difficulty in remembering names which predates aging. I have always envied those people who can spot the face of an actor or actress and real off the parts they played. More importantly I can’t imagine how many acquaintances must have thought me cold and standoffish over the years as I either failed to notice them or was unable to acknowledge them personally by name. So, I think there is something sacred about our ability to name things, it is as if we give life to them only by naming them. Without names they don’t exist as individuals. So, I’m afraid naming does matter, but understanding and being sensitive to each other’s limitations matters even more, so calling someone “my dear” is actually fine.

  5. I call people “my dear” even when I do know their name. I like it when people use endearments when speaking to me. I am aware that the sweetest word in any language is our own name and people like to hear us use it. I’m trying to get better at saying names when I’m engaged in a conversation. But honestly have no inner desire to learn/remember the names of plants, rocks, animals, or even countries.

    I do know several ways to teach your body to sleep all night if you’d like me to share them, and it can help your memory along with getting plenty of water. 🙂

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