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Why We Can't Sleep

Women's New Midlife Crisis
Written by: Ada Calhoun
Narrated by: Ada Calhoun
Length: 5 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A generation-defining examination of the new midlife crisis facing Gen X women and the unique circumstances that have brought them to this point, Why We Can’t Sleep is a lively successor to Passages by Gail Sheehy and The Defining Decade by Meg Jay.  

When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that other Generation X women were miserable, too?  

Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were being largely overlooked.   

Speaking with women across America about their experiences as the generation expected to “have it all”, Calhoun found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Instead of their issues being heard, they were told to lean in, take “me time”, or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order.  

In Why We Can’t Sleep, Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X’s predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss - and keep the next generation from falling in. The result is reassuring, empowering, and essential listening for all middle-aged women, and anyone who hopes to understand them. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Ada Calhoun (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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So ON point.

Helps make sense of present day challenges that many Gen X women face today. This is a must read if you lie awake at night wondering what-the-actual-eff has happened to your life.

3 people found this helpful

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For the Generation X Woman

This book has very little to do with sleep. it is more about thr unique experiences middle aged Generation X women face in their day to day lives. ot is nothing profound; however, when you listen to it you realize you are not aline in how you feel being the sandwich generation in a technology driven world where you are not allowed to be human (aka imperfect). An easy relateable listen.

2 people found this helpful

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Phew, I am normal

Enjoyed her humour and personal accounts of my stage in life. She sold me nothing but the promise it will get better.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ian
  • 2020-04-05

Great book!

Love this book, and as a generation x myself I could relate to the stories and experiences Ada shared. She gave hope that in the end that we may be one of the most resilient generations that will leave a mark in the world's history books.

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  • Kristina
  • 2020-01-25

Generation X Chick

I had heard a lot of buzz about this book. Looking at the description, I was hesitant to spend a credit. Why? Because...I don’t need to listen to 4-5 hours of whining and tales of victim hood. I’m a generation x chick damnit. I’m resilient. I’m strong. I’m nobody’s fool. But still...I haven’t listened / read anything related to my cohort and so the temptation was too much. It’s just a credit, right?!

25 minutes into the book, I pulled over to the side of the road, right inside our subdivision and I cried. No big ugly tears. No sobbing. Just a constant stream of tears trickling down my face. It was like this...whoosh...and the wall that I built from childhood and continued to reinforce with whatever I had in me...I felt suddenly naked and vulnerable. Oh my. All of these feelings I’ve had, still continue to have...I’m not alone and those were the real reason for my tears.

And complete transparency, I could only take the book in small chunks because that’s how emotional I became. It took me 2 weeks from start to finish. But then, I listened to it a second time from start to finish with no extended breaks and I’m really glad that I did. That second time, I was able to listen to how other women were dealing or not dealing with this period of their lives.

The author did a good job with laying it all out there. We’re worriers. We overcompensate with our own children as a result of the shock and awe of the conflicting / mixed messaging times of our adolescence.

It was good understanding that I really am not alone. Imposter syndrome? Check. Wild hormone fluctuations? Check. Fearful of our future? Check. List maker. Check.

That first time through, I think I struggled with moving from chapter to chapter (normal pace of listening) because I could see no light at the end of this book tunnel...until it appeared. And that is a spoiler that I’m not willing to reveal in this review. What you take from it - well - you’ll see.

41 people found this helpful

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  • newyorkdoll
  • 2020-01-08

Answers every question about why my life is this way

I loved this book so much it’s hard to put into words. It talks about all the struggles women face in middle age through the lens of Gen X: I.e. our parents drove us around without seatbelts and left us in the car to run errands but now we must supervise every minute of our kids’ lives, on top of working, caring for aging parents, etc. It covers everything: feeling unaccomplished in midlife, motherhood, infertility, marriage, divorce, money, sex, peri menopause, body image, why women our age are particularly addicted to social media. It always brakes before things get depressing and ends on a hopeful note. I think every Gen Xer should read it- even men

65 people found this helpful

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  • Maria
  • 2020-01-11

Fantastic! Enjoyed every minute of it.

Yes, even though this might be a bleak, dismal portrayal of Gen X women, it's as real as it gets. Nearly every single line struck a chord with me. Born in 1974, I was the oldest of six, raised in a very middle class blue-collar family in the suburb of a Midwestern metropolis. After the recession of the early 80s, my mother went to work full-time to supplement my father's cut hours at his factory job, and remained working until I graduated high school. That meant as early as 8 years old, much of my free time outside of school was spent "babysitting." No one thought anything of six kids staying home by themselves on a snow day or during the summer while both parents were at work. In all my elementary school years, the only time I remember parents getting involved in school were the few privileged kids whose moms sent cupcakes for the class on their child's birthday. Even parent/teacher conferences were only once a year. My teachers didn't have a clue what parents' names were. We didn't have help with homework, and were expected to get good grades based on our own efforts. I don't recall a single parent of my friends belonging to PTA or being involved in school activities. I do remember, though, walking with my 11-year old friends up to the A&P so they could buy their mother cigarettes, which only required the $1.50 cash and a note from their moms to the store clerk giving permission for the 5th graders to buy smokes for them.

My husband often tells tales of what childhood was like when he was ten years old. Armed with nothing but a few Fruit Roll-Ups and some Juicy Fruit, he and his friends would ride their bikes for several miles to the lake and play in the woods along the shoreline, often going out fishing and swimming and playing imaginative games until the sun went down. Nowadays, I don't see kids even having the freedom to walk home from school, let alone play like that. As an adult, I decided I just didn't want to have kids of my own. This decision is reinforced every single year when I witness social media posts about annual Halloween "trunk or treat" events in a church or school parking lot at 2:00pm. Apparently, gone are the days when you can just send your children out into the neighborhood all dressed up in $10 plastic costumes, free to roam the streets after dark with their friends to scope out the best candy--some of my favorite memories of childhood.

Between technology, devices, school and social pressures, and my own pressures for career and financial stability, I just didn't think it was worth it to have children. Not for me... but for the kid. I mean, it must really suck to be a child of a Gen X'er, I often think. It has to be the hardest part of being a Millennial. Gen X'ers are seriously messed up. Anyway, as a result of being childless, I have it a lot easier than most women I know. Still, I identified with every other aspect of Gen X stressers in this book. As the author stated, it IS just really nice to know that I'm not alone in my experiences. Brava for a job well done with this one. I'll be recommending to many friends!

47 people found this helpful

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  • Cally
  • 2020-01-12

If your questioning if you should have had kids

I was hoping this would have been a bit more well rounded, but it was very focused on the mother/ mommy role.

48 people found this helpful

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  • ProfDi
  • 2020-01-11

Fantastic, intelligent, engaging analysis

This book is amazingly poignant! It looks at primarily Gen X against the socio-economic-political background of our (entire) lives and applies these themes to an analysis of their contributions to our current situation and explains SO MUCH!!! I found myself alternating between tears, smiles, relief, and a sense of community sprinkled with “Yes!”, “Exactly”, “Hadn’t thought of that”, and “That makes so much sense!”

I think it was recommended in the synopsis to be ‘good for GenX women and those around them.’ Oh boy! Is it ever!!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Lisa Palmer
  • 2020-01-15

Clarity and acceptance....this book impacted me deeply.

Listening to the stories from childhood through adult struggles reminded me of so many of my own stories. I came away comforted that I’m in good company and encouraged for the future! It also motivated me to take tactical steps to improve my life quality. I’m grateful for this author’s research and authenticity.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-01-10

Validating

Very validating and definitely made me feel less alone in my current state of... 44. I have to say the statistics and research feel bleak but are also reaffirming. It feels kind of like listening to the season 1 recap before heading to season 2. Here is everything that’s happened so far and there were a lot of challenges, let’s see what happens next.
For accuracy the arm of the hormone trial that was stopped was the “progestin” not “progesterone” arm.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Tracy Field
  • 2020-01-09

It was like she knew me.

I told five friends about this book. I bought it for one and the others bought it for themselves. We all love it.

I am listening to it for the second time.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Melissa Palmer!
  • 2020-01-09

(Almost) A Gen X

I am what you call a "Cusper", born between '80 and '83. Sometimes I am Gen X and sometimes I am a Millennial; it all depends on who is defining the group. However, I loved this book. I found myself relating to so much, mostly professionally and how to prepare myself for things to come. I highly recommend this book to all women over 35 who are struggling with their lives regardless of a "crisis status" or not.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Deziderata
  • 2020-02-06

If you're here, this is for you.

Wow. Short answer: Buy this book now. If you're still reading past the publisher’s summary, you need to hear this book. It doesn't disappoint.

Long answer:
If you’re a Gen X’er and finding yourself thinking about love, work, money, your body, retirement, unmet goals, child care, parent care, and/or the significance of your life, buy the book. I'm sure there's more, but those are the things that resonated with me. I listened to it twice, and plan on a third listen soon. I smiled and laughed out loud at references to forgotten pop culture and events; sat agape when she touched on belief systems I didn’t even realize were working in the back of my head; and cried when she made me realize that it truly isn’t my fault that things didn’t turn out like I thought they would. She made it resoundingly clear that my worries are normal, and gave me permission to cut myself some damn slack already.

For reference, I’m a 45 year old woman feeling very much like I messed up a few aspects of my life, daydreaming about going back & correcting course. Also, this is *so* not my type of book. I’m not interested in labels, gender studies, nor blame games – and from some of the reviews, I feared that’s what this book was. Nope. Nor is it, as one reviewer said, just a bunch of facts thrown at you – yes, there are a lot of facts, which the author uses to substantiate her (dead-on) assertions. (Without those facts, the book would sound like just a bunch of excuses.)

Someone mentioned that it was an indictment of our president. Nope. Not a shred of political lean to this book, and I’m very sensitive to that, because I have ZERO tolerance for political opinions. I would’ve turned off the book immediately at the first left/right critique/praise.

Another reviewer said that this book was geared toward women with kids. Nope. She has plenty of material about women without kids (whether by choice or not), and the unique aspect of their situation. Ditto women who never married.

It wasn’t depressing as one reviewer mentioned, although there are plenty of stats that paint a negative picture of the environment in which we came of age – but the author’s point is that we need to acknowledge our success at having navigated it all. I actually patted myself on the back for once!!

Now, please excuse me while I go get some new 40-something friends to bond with.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Lena
  • 2020-05-10

US context

The book illustrates problems that gen x women in USA seem to deal with. The context does not seem to correspond to Europe. Women in Europe seem much happier overall and have a lot of governmental support. Unrelatable book.