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Spending Another Night with My Friend, Insomnia

Updated on August 30, 2010

Pleased to meet you, Insomnia

Have you ever tossed and turned until noticing that the clock says "4:16 a.m." and you know sleep is not coming soon? Well, let me introduce you to an old and regular friend of mine, Insomnia.

During my lifetime, I have had inconsistant sleep patterns. As a teenager, I remember finally collapsing around Thursday afternoon, after a long week of 4-hour sleep nights. I had to be at school by 7:00am, and I always went, but I always went tired. In college, I learned that I should not sign up for the 8:00 a.m. M-W-F classes because I found myself alert and awake until the wee hours on my school nights. Maybe it is because I am from Las Vegas and we just don't sleep here.

By my working years, I started on the "swing shift" schedule of 3:00 p.m. - Midnight, which then caused me to finally drift off at around 4:00 a.m. I still never slept much, I just found myself going to sleep later and later. Finally, when I had kids, I figured out what true exhaustion meant, and I thought I had the sleep thing all figured out.

Enter stress.

When my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Insomnia came back to visit. I was not able to sleep much at all, causing more stress and anxiety. I was exhausted all the time, but never let on, and never slept much, tossing and turning while I tried to figure out how I was going to save him. I never did figure it out, and when he died, sleep became less and less fulfilling. Now, my mother, after suffering from another horrible terminal illness, died in February and my old friend, Insomnia, has come back to haunt me.

When I noticed this trend returning, the first thing I did was invest in earplugs and an eyemask. I decided that if I couldn't see or hear anything, it would be easy to fall asleep. Unfortunately, this isn't this case for me, because I've found that the eye mask looks quite lovely when perched over my forehead while typing on my keyboard.

Then I tried downloading self-hypnosis applications on my smart phone. I thought the relaxing sounds of my Scottish virtual hypnotist would lull me to sleep. Then I tried an American hypnotist. Then I tried new age music. Classical music. Spa music.

Nothing worked.

Herbal tea. No caffeine. Hot bath. Sleep aids. Conversations with my dogs.

Zilch.

Recently I have started using Melatonin drops before bed. They seem to work because at least 20 minutes or so after squeezing two droppers-full under my tongue, I get sleepy. That's a start. Right?

My father was a psychiatrist and a very, very smart man. He told me that the only solution for insomnia was to stop fighting it. Lie in bed and rest- it's better than getting up and not resting. Turn off the tv in the bedroom. Resting is better than the anxiety insomnia causes, and eventually we will all fall asleep.

Does it work? I'm not sure because it is 4:30 a.m. and I am not in bed resting, my television is on, and the eye shade is on my forehead. I can hear my dogs snoring while I type away on the keyboard. In fact, the more I think about it, the sleepier I am getting.

Think I will go rest now. Goodnight!

 

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    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 6 years ago from Aurora

      I too often fight with this unpleasant creature....

    • profile image

      steve 7 years ago

      Fortunately, I can not relate to the author; I generally have no issues with falling asleep. My problem is waking up too early in the morning. I appreciate what she is saying, and the essence of the problem was captured well in the description of the problem.

      All I can say is good luck!

    • profile image

      Cowboy 7 years ago

      I too have experienced my share of insomnia, but have come to realize also that as we get older, the natural melatonin that our bodies produce is reduced causing us less need for sleep. At 49, I've found that the 8 to 10 hours of sleep I needed in my 20's has now become more like 5 to 6 hours a night. And, of course, depending on what I have on my mind when I lay down, can be even less.

      Good article though. Welcome back to the world of the authors.

      TK

    • profile image

      Tony Howerton 7 years ago

      Like you I have never been one to sleep. Last night was of coarse no exception. Most of the time I will lay in bed and plan out the next days work thinking that it may bore me into a coma. In reality it has just helped me become good at doing math in my head. ( How many yards of concrete will it take to pour that patio, How much dirt to fill in that hole, ETC...) Sometimes its restless arms or legs but mostly its just not being able to shut off my mind. Tried listening to music but I hear every word and every note and it just gives my mind even more to process. As a kid it never bothered me as I had energy to burn and now that I'm older I'm just used to not sleeping and having the dark circles under my eyes. As a wildland firefighter it even worked to my advantage with forty eight hour initial attack, sixteen hour shifts and twenty and twenty two hour days. It has never really bothered me and has yet to effect my work so I just let sleep happen when it happens and let the thoughts role through my head when it doesn't.

      Well back to work!

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      Sometimes, I count backwards from 100 or play an old simple song in my head. Seems to work mostly with the song.

      Good first hub. :)