Forget death. Forget taxes. Forget karma.

One thing I know is true is that tonight, no matter what time I go to bed, I will wake up at 3 a.m. Three is the witching hour for me.

Menopause and getting old are not for the faint of heart.

I will lie awake, trying every possible sleep position until 5 a.m.

At five o'clock I will read in the other room or downstairs so I won't disturb my husband. At 6 a.m., I will go back to bed.

If I am lucky, maybe--just maybe--I will fall asleep about 6:45 or 7 a.m.

My husband, who has been snoring half the night, will then wake up and say, "God, I've been awake all night. I couldn't sleep at all."

But that's another story.

I once prided myself in being able to sleep anywhere: in a car, on the beach, during the occasional class.

Growing up in Boston, I perfected the widespread skill of sleeping on the T, giving myself over to the rhythmic swaying and clacking of the train.

Equally important, however, is the companion skill of waking up at your stop.

As a child I marveled at people's ability to do this. Seemingly sound asleep, they casually opened their eyes for no apparent reason, stood up and got off at the next stop.

But there are no subway trains in Connecticut. So I have resorted, at times, to visualization, yoga relaxation techniques, even a lavender-scented eye pillow to no avail.

I recently went away for a weekend to a beach house in Rhode Island with some girlfriends.

The first morning I woke up at 8 a.m. After banging my watch against the heel of my hand, I finally realized it was not broken and it was indeed 8 a.m. The second morning I woke up at 7:30 and drifted off again until 8:15 a.m.

Ruminating over this phenomenon of a full night's sleep while drinking my coffee, I came to a startling if risky conclusion.

To sleep the whole night through, I just have to drink wine and sleep alone.

Diane Shovak of Wethersfield is the mother of Kristen Nettleton and her husband, Shaun, of Washington.