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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sleepless in the Universe

This is the perfect opportunity, (4:24 am) to discuss one of the few topics about which I qualify as an expert, and that is INSOMNIA. 

Insomnia Type 1.) You brush the teeth, don the nightie and crawl into the bed, get comfy with blanket, pillow, white-noise-producing fan, dog, husband, and fall gently into a sweet, deep, sleep, just like the other diurnal creatures from the prairie to the forest. 
Until... you turn over to settle the hip, to cover the foot, to switch the pillow to the cool side, while ordering self:  DO NOT THINK! DO NOT THINK! THINK NOTHING! 
But a tiny, seemingly harmless thought slips through, a gateway speck of brain activity that mutates instantaneously into the cacophony of ceaseless inner chatter. Thoughts of things left undone, unsaid, begin their taunt. Mundane niggling details repeat and repeat like acid reflux. The night is lost.
Or, Insomnia Type 2.) After dragging through your day, hallucinating with sleep deprivation, you yawn through dinner, take the hot soothing bath, drink the warm milk, lay the weary head upon the pillow, close the blood-shot eyes.  
Ah, blissful rest! (two, three, four) Pop! The eyes are open.

You play possum, hold unnaturally still. But the foot must twitch. You are too hot, too cold. There is no comfortable position for any part of your body or soul. The dog’s toenails click across the floor. The husband snores. You hate them both. You seethe. You whimper, panic. If religious, you wail at the heavens, beseech the sleep gods. Tears of exhaustion and frustration seep.  
You try the couch but cannot escape the repeating lyrics of a bank commercial from your youth. 

You remember the tricks. Massage the face. Tense and relax various body parts. Snap on the light and read till the words blur, have the shot of whiskey or the addictive, hangover-producing magic white pill.  You re-paint the kitchen. Or write a blog about insomnia.

Things that aggravate symptoms. 
A. Working.
B. Not working.
C. Needing to get up in the morning.
D. Having said or done something cringe-worthy earlier in the day, or week, or lifetime. Or having had same said or done to you.
E. The future.
F. The Past.
G. Having children, a spouse, parents, siblings, co-workers, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, relatives, or none of the above.
H. Concerns about encroaching global stupidity, catastrophic weather anomalies, dust bunnies under the armoire, and the inevitability of death. 

Possible Side Effects
A. Sleeping on the inside while driving on the outside. 
B. Inappropriate weeping while wielding a machete. 
C. Divorce. 
D. Incarceration.

Treatment Methods 
A. Lobotomy 
B. Death

P.S. This post is dedicated to my fellow sufferers. 


Rosalind R. Oliver said...

I can relate.

Carol Snow said...

Benadryl and Allegra help, especially if you take both every night, as I do. And, yes, I wake up thirrrrrrrrstyyyyyy.

susan patron said...

Oh, me too, me too, me too. But, Amy, you GOT SOMETHING OUT OF IT: a terrific piece that made me sit up and read every word with pleasure because of the clever and funny and revealing ways you fit those words together.

Teresa said...

Did you not sleep again?????? I can relate to all of your perfect descriptions of the experience which you make reading about much more fun then going though it! This worked for me ONCE... if you have a cd player or an iPod, put on some classical music with head phones... Chopin nocturnes, children's bedtime music. Or a recording of the sound of ocean waves. I can give to you.

Barbara Dee said...

Love this, Amy! Tonight, while thinking of all the reasons I do NOT want to get that anti-tooth-grinding mouth guard, I will reread your post, smile...and then yell at myself, RELAX YOUR FACE.

andylicht said...

Its called hypervigilance and you can't turn it off. While you're up, try reading Deepak Chopra's "Restful Sleep" book. I didn't pay much attention to Deepak earlier in life but this book was helpful in understanding that you can't force sleep. Once thats out of the way you can begin to start anew.

Betty Birney said...

Thanks for making me laugh (or cry), Amy. I sleep great ... until 4 am. Benadryl is good though it can make you a little groggy in the morning. Time released melatonin is a big step uup from melatonin. Ear plugs - not the wimpy little cloth things but the waxy kind (Mack's) that you form to completely block the sound. I get a lot of creative thinking done between 4 and 5:30 a.m., which I think is a reasonable hour for arising. Oh, and I have the mouth guard - works great.

Anonymous said...

Have so been there...Until I discovered the magic pill, which I will kindly push your way. Just a short walk up the canyon to peace and zzz's...CP

Anonymous said...

Thinking about this blog post is going to keep me up all night!!!

Sarahc said...

Been there, done that... sooo done that. The tossing, the turning, the inevitable migraine-with-aura and all the bells and whistles (the meds, the dry mouth, the ickies) the next day..
I have found mindful meditation very helpful, with no negative side effects. Unless you count the occasional goofy grin a negative side effect. (I would tell you how many days (months!) since I took any meds but that might jinx it.)

Judy silk said...

I believe that, of all the comments added thus far, I am the closest to the source, as I am reading this in a fit of my own insomnia, identifying with nearly everything you've identified, and wondering, as I sit on the couch, with a book I'm about to try, what the f'ck's the use!

Terry said...

Amy, have you been reading my mind? I really enjoyed this!

Sarah Skilton said...

Yes, yes, yes, I'm the second version. I'm exhausted all day, convinced that the second I finally get the chance to let my head hit the pillow I'll be out immediately, and then... nothing. I just lie there, too hot/too cold, hearing every tiny noise, wishing to be unconscious.

What helps me is reminding myself that even if I'm not sleeping, I'm resting. And then I try to just concentrate on breathing. Don't know if that ever helps you, but it works sometimes for me.

J Kurland said...

To pee or not to pee. That is the question.

Rachel Brooks said...

I hate when I keep telling myself not to think of anything, but then my orders to my brain fail miserably. My mind starts racing and its a lost cause! Luckily that doesn't happen every night.

Also, I’m a new follower—wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :)

Eva M said...

Have you read Graceling by Kristin Cashore? Loved the book, but what made the biggest impression on me is that the heroine, Katsa, has the gift of falling asleep like clicking off a switch - click, she's out for the night. Jealousy!!
I find myself fantasizing that I'm a robot and could be switched off - or that someone would just clonk me over the head and knock me unconscious for a lovely 8 hours.

Cheryl Ann Rose said...

Very funny post Amy. Sorry 'bout the insomnia. I can relate. I've had it for the past couple of nights. Last night, I got up and cleaned a bit- about a 1/2 hour, then I stretched for about 40 min., then I prayed, then I took a muscle relaxer and turned on my hypnotic cd. Peaceful sleep at last came.