By Hannah Berman


As an avowed insomniac, I do not look forward to the day we turn the clocks back. While most people are happy about getting an extra hour of sleep, I dread it. For me, the clock change simply means an extra hour of tossing and turning. And why would I like that?

Generally speaking, I have no idea why I can’t sleep. Those are the nights when there is no reasonable explanation for my wakefulness. But there are some nights when the reason is the temperature. It’s unclear if that relates to the room temperature or to my own body temperature. But hot is hot! Being cold has never been a problem. If that should ever happen, I could simply put a sweatshirt on over my nightgown or add an extra blanket. Inevitably, the problem for me is being too hot.

This is during the winter months, but it matters very little that I keep the thermostat set at a low number or that I open a window. In late spring and summer, my bedroom windows are all but hermetically sealed, never to be opened again until November. From mid-April through early October, the air conditioner is my best friend and I set the thermostat at its lowest possible number. If that is not adequate, there are other options available. They are what I refer to as my nighttime activities. I will turn the pillow over because the underside of the pillow is always cool. It’s a great feeling but the relief never lasts long, so, within a short while, I turn it over again. If the constant pillow turning doesn’t offer satisfactory relief, there is another option. This one has nothing to do with my head or my pillow. It involves the other end of my body, my feet. I stick one foot out of the cover. Amazingly, this small move makes a big difference in my comfort level. But, like the pillow turning, relief doesn’t last long. At that point, when sticking out a foot does not sufficiently ease my discomfort, I throw back the blanket — a cotton blanket of course — and expose an entire leg. On occasion, all of this activity is exhausting enough to allow me to fall asleep.

The bigger problem is when temperature is not the issue and there is no explanation for my sleeplessness. That means a lot of tossing and turning. But I refuse to do that for very long, so at some point I give up and get out of bed. If I’m too bleary-eyed to read, there is always the television or the computer for company and to help me to occupy the mid-night hours when, I assume, everyone else is asleep. Now and then I will get a happy surprise. It happens when I go online and discover that I am not the only person awake at two or three in the morning. Clearly, I am not the only insomniac on the planet. I have been known to exchange e-mails with a friend at that ungodly hour.

Those of us who suffer from frequent sleeplessness don’t think that getting an extra hour of sleep time is a gift. What we are happy with is that other change of the clock that offers an hour less of sleep time. We prefer to “spring forward” when we switch to Daylight Savings Time.

But, on a personal note, I am not thrilled with either of the clock changes. Computers and cellphones and televisions change the time automatically, but that’s where the help ends. I’m on my own with the kitchen clock, the bedroom clock, and all my wristwatches. Doing that is a time-consuming task that I don’t enjoy. But it’s changing the clock in my car that is the most bothersome. In spite of having been shown repeatedly, I never remember how to do it. So today is the day, as I pen this story, that I will head over to the local Nissan dealership and ask for someone to come out to my Rogue and do it for me. My first hope is always the same — that the person who will assist me today will not be the same one who did that six months ago. My second hope is that if it should happen to be the same person, he won’t recognize me.

Because changing the clock is not hard to do, whoever helps me inevitably teaches me how it is done. It looks easy when he does it, but six months later, when it’s time to do it again, I am stumped. The car comes with an instruction book that includes directions on how to change the clock. But I don’t bother with that because I know that, in my case, it would be a time-consuming task and one for which I have no patience. It will take me less time to drive to the dealership and have someone there do it for me. So that is what I will do, and that’s just the way it is.

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at or 516-295-4435.


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