It’s the Worry that Gets You, Not the Lack of Sleep

As the holidays approach, you may find yourself awake in the thin hours of the morning:

Gimme a broom. Gimme a blog. Gimme something to do so I can get to sleep.

1) to harass by tearing, biting or snapping, especially at the throat.
2)  to touch or disturb something repeatedly.(Merriam-Webster)

Dale Carnegie said, “If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”

There’s a similar mantra in outdoor survival classes: “Try to keep making your situation a little better.”

On a backpacking trip some years ago, my son and I got to test this advice.

We’d hiked 10 miles only to find the trail ahead of us was blocked (read: fallen into the valley below). There wasn’t time to bushwhack through the fallen trees with nightfall and a storm bearing down on us.

That’s when my son announced he was out of water. And sick to his stomach. And it started to rain.

We backtracked, about a half mile, where we found a semi-flat spot in the trail (we were on the side of a mountain), set up tent and a tiny tarp shelter. That’s when I found out my son hadn’t packed any rain gear and mostly cotton clothes.

He was young. He was tired—we both were. I should have checked with the Forest Service before starting. I should’ve checked my son’s gear. I had a lot of “shoulda’s” until some spark of preservation goaded me.

Hope grew when we were able to start a fire; a tiny one, but it threw out a circle of light in the pouring rain. We built a water collector; an ugly jury-rigged contraption that any survival manual would laugh at. Never mind. Each action, even the ones that failed (like the collector collapsing) gave us a grip on a world we didn’t control. It kept us focused on the present.

Obviously…we made it. That kid has grown up. He now carries most of the load on our hiking trips. And the lessons we learned about worry on that trip….I’ve carried into life.

So when sleep doesn’t come, I kick off the bed covers to write, pray, or look for phone numbers that I can call as soon as the clock strikes 8 a.m. (Those lucky people).

And that kid…now turned adult….????

Sometimes in the thin hours of the morning, I get an e-mail that says:
“Hi Mom, You still up? Can we talk?”

Worries will come this season
*Auntie Sue will insist her little yapper dog MUST sit on her lap during Christmas dinner.
* Two relatives will announce they’ve turned vegan and won’t sit at a table that has anything that’s ever come from a live animal.
* Your mother-in-law will suggest a NEW, even more convoluted way to do the traditional gift exchange. And family warfare will break out when you shout: “Don’t anyone get me a damn Snuggie!!”

This holiday season…may you have hours of restful slumber…and if you don’t….
Get up. Work on making the present a little bit better.

Morning will come. Hope comes with it.

May your have no worries for Christmas.

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in A Laugh, Change, Humor, Sleepless Nights, Worries and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to It’s the Worry that Gets You, Not the Lack of Sleep

  1. El Guapo says:

    Hoping the new year finds you and yours happy and well, Barb!


  2. Spectra says:

    Sleep is for the weak. Insomnia is a myth. Think how much quicker we’d all get through life if there was no such thing as sleep? We’d all graduate college at 8, become CEOs by 19, retire at 26 and be dead by 30. I’m pretty sure this is how the crickets do it. They make happy music all night and hop around all day. No one diagnoses them with a sleep disorder. They just step on them when they get too noisy with joy.


  3. Silva Gang says:

    So funny! I wish you all the best and that you don’t get the Snuggie… or the vegan couple… or the dog hair in the Christmas dinner, ha ha! 😉 Happy Holidays!


  4. magsx2 says:

    What an adventure you and your son had, I just couldn’t imagine what that must of been like. Just thinking about snow at the moment is good, and seeing pictures is even better, it is of course summer here, so anything cool is good. 🙂
    If I don’t get back before Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful day, and a fantastic New Year.


  5. Your camping excursion sounded exciting. How cool that you were innovative enough to make a fire, find shelter, and survive. These are the stories we tell … put those worries aside (I wish) and find some tales to spin around that campfire. Thanks, Barb. Merry Christmas.


  6. Elyse says:

    Nice perspective, Barb!


  7. Rose L. says:

    I often have difficulties sleeping. Sometimes I think about getting in the car and going to Shari’s or somewhere open 24 hours to get a piece of pie or a hot fudge sundae. Haven’t done it yet, but do think about it. When I have to go to work in the morning, it is a bugger. I have found myself nodding off. Not good.


  8. Barb says:

    Happy, Happy, Merry. Georgette.


  9. Some years ago I decided that what I really wanted for Christmas was Boxing Day. Which still works for me – the fuss is over, people wanting food can be directed to the fridge, I have new books to read. And I get my wish every year, I have to wait a little it is true – but it is worth it.
    I hope your Christmas is full of magic and love – the rest is just fuss and bother.


  10. momaescriva says:

    I’m with you, Barb….NO SNUGGIE! That would cause me to lose sleep.


    • Barb says:

      I was wrapped up in a blanket the other night and thought to myself…maybe I should get a snuggie so I my arms don’t get cold when I type. Then I had to slap myself.


  11. dorannrule says:

    Great advice Barb! “…making the present a little bit better.” That will be my new motto when I wake up worrying. Thanks. And a worry free Christmas is wished for you too! 🙂


  12. Al says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it, insomnia is nothing to lose sleep over.


  13. Never did any camping like that! I’ve white-water rafted a class five river when I only knew oceans, and went caving and got lost. But even last year when my mother in law decided not to be part of the traditional Christmas Day dinner, I didn’t worry. If she’s got a boyfriend somewhere, GOOD FOR HER! Shame she feels she can’t tell her only son, though 🙂 Nah, I worry over other things, also out of my control, like my job!


  14. Sleep well over the holiday period, Barb!


  15. Arindam says:

    Wishing you peace, laughter and happiness this Christmas!


  16. Good advice, Barb. Here these are strange nights, the darkest and longest of the year. Getting up sounds like it may break worry cycles…


  17. T E Stazyk says:

    Great advice–and may you have a worry-free holiday season.

    Also, if you find yourself wide awake some night, you might want to parley that camping story into a full sized blog post–with your sense of humor (and now that we know the outcome was good) it would be a great read!


  18. Margie says:

    Hope you have many ‘Worry Free’ dreams and realities this Christmas season!


  19. Paul Butcher says:

    Great one Barb.


  20. Roxie Matthews says:

    Camping in western Oregon without rain gear is aDarwin award sort of thing to do. Luckily, he also was camping with his mom, so he survived and learned never to do THAT again! You. my dear, are a life-saver.

    I admire your energy. When I wake early, I don’t even have the battery life to worry. I just lie there in my warm, dry , soft bed, listening to my husband breathe. Then I heave a big, happy sigh and start thanking God for my many blessings. Guess I’m just to lazy to worry properly.


  21. jmgoyder says:

    ‘Thin hours’ – brilliant.


  22. susan sw says:

    Sleep is kinda funny. When our kids are growing up, it’s a given that we never get enough sleep. Between getting up with them during the night and having to get up way before the butt crack of dawn to start feeding them, etc, it’s just the way it is. We were walking zombies long before it was cool. Now that we’re older and theoretically able to sleep whenever and as long as we’d like… we CAN’T. Don’t NEED it anymore. (There’s something messed up about that…) Here’s wishing you a carefree merry Christmas.


    • Barb says:

      Yeah….what’s with that? I really admire those folks who care for their grandchildren overnight AND get some sleep. Of course, if you watch them sleep, you get jealous of their brain being completely switched off.


  23. Wishing you a worry-free Christmas as well, Barb!


  24. JSD says:

    No camping for me…had enough of that when I was a kid. However, brilliant minds think alike: I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep. So I got busy and finished moving/switching my sewing room and extra bedroom furniture, folded laundry, took out the trash, and am getting ready to help BF install some drywall this morning. Unfortunately, I’ll probably need a nap this afternoon. 😦


  25. My daughter and I camped once when there was non stop rain. We were with friends so we pressed on–ohhh my feet got so cold and so wet. Note to self: water proof boots and plenty of dry socks for the next adventure–all I wanted that weekend was some dry socks.
    Happy Holidays, Barb!


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