Thursday, July 21, 2011

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.

Many of the fine folks I regularly exchange 140 characters with share with me a certain affliction.  A few of us are insomniacs.  My mother informs me that even as a child I never slept.  This includes infancy up through adolescents.  I suppose it's been a problem for me all my life.

However, for the past few years the problem had dissipated.  I was able to lay down in bed and fall asleep with little trouble.  I may have taken a bit longer than others, perhaps an hour, but I could plan accordingly and get to sleep.

That changed about a year ago.  We'll label last year as turbulent and leave it at that.  At one point last June I was awake for 3 days straight. I was absolutely exhausted and sick because of it...but I just could not fall asleep.

At that point I decided enough was enough.  I started taking any of the many sleeping helpers (happy-go-sleepy pills) that you can get without a prescription. It was the only thing, at the time, that could get me to sleep.

Over a year later, I am just now trying to get off of them.  It's not like an addiction or anything like that. It's just, I haven't chanced not being able to fall asleep since then.  I don't know exactly why, but every time it got a bit late and I wasn't asleep, I just took the PMs.  Eventually I simply took them every night at ten o'clock that way I could be asleep by midnight or one if I was lucky.  Sometimes it didn't work, but usually it did.  Three PMs or two cups of the Quil will knock anyone out.  Prior to the last few nights, I had not fallen asleep without the aid of some sort of sleeping drug or alcohol before 3 am since last year.

I bring this up because right now I am absolutely exhausted (excuse any errors).  For the past four nights I have not taken anything to help me sleep.  I have not fallen asleep before 3 AM.  I get up for work at 7.  So I've had sixteen hours of sleep in span where I was supposed to have thirty-two.

It appears there is nothing I can do about it.  My roommate asked the basic questions: are you eating too late?  Do you do too much right before bed?  Have you considered not watching TV?  Perhaps you shouldn't hang out in your bedroom during the day.  All the things I've thought of before and tried to remedy.  None have worked.

I don't know what it is exactly.  As I've discussed here several times, I hate being alone.  Prior to last year I hadn't slept alone in over two years.  I really despise sleeping alone (I don't like the dark when I'm alone.  I suppose that's childish.  It's not fear...I just don't like it).  I know that when I turn the lights out and teevee off I start to think about all the bad things that have/are/will happen.  I tend to think about the past.  I know that must play a roll.  But I don't do that all of the time and often times I simply don't turn the teevee off at all.  Perhaps I'm scared of those thoughts.  Perhaps until I have exactly the life/job/relationship I want I will be perpetually terrified of tomorrow.

After all, if I don't go to sleep then the next day can't get me.


Danielle A. Curtiss, JD said...

I know you're really discussing this part, but drinking to sleep really messes with your sleep. Dietician husband explained it to me one time, and can't remember what he said, but the short of it is that it is just really bad. It knocks you out, but you don't get a rested sleep.

I wonder if it's one of those things that since you've always had trouble sleeping, you were never really 'sleep trained.' That sounds ridiculous, but maybe it's possible. I wonder if there are any meditation-type techniques that you can use to force your brain to shut off.

I have trouble sleeping when I have lots going on (ugh, like right now. Laid awake last night thinking about secured transactions, commercial paper, and the MBE), but nothing like what you describe. I do think there's something to be said for having someone else there. Even if you don't wake them and lay awake while they sleep, it's comforting to know they're there. I'm sorry :(

Danielle A. Curtiss, JD said...

That first sentence should say *not* really discussing this part. Sigh.

JoshueTree said...

Thanks Danielle.

I don't drink too's just on those nights where I go out and have a few...I can fall asleep. But obviously I'm not going to rely on that. And yes, I imagine it does screw up your sleep - tons of sugar and overworked organs probably do that.

It's funny...late last summer I went away with my cousin to Vermont to a lake house. I shared a room with my "nephew" who was 3 at the time. I slept in the bed and he was on the other side of the room in his pop up pen. I found it easier to sleep then. I didn't know what to chalk it up to (whether it was relaxation of Lake, Vermont, Family) Or if it was just having someone else in the room.

AmyIrenie said...

I love sleep. I think I have overslept most of my life. 12 hours is normal for me. Was normal. I lose the "ability" to sleep in every day.

I was surprised that you were just using OTC stuff to sleep. I kind of assumed that you had a prescription of some sort.

I have two schools of thought on this topic. Family and friends have had major sleep issues.

First: the hippie way. This is most of my family approach. Starting with having a bedtime routine. Take a warm shower, play ocean waves or delta sleep sounds or whatever, spray your sheets with lavender (I do this every night), etc. Also, the big helper-accupuncture. It "cured" my sister of a bunch of her ailments. It just made my panic attacks worse, but because of that it made me exhausted so I would sleep. Meh.

Route 2: Western Medicine! This is the other half of my family and friends. Dad has sleep apnea, takes ambien, uses the CPAP etc. It's "changed his life" if you ask him. Another friend, after being unemployed and on disability after his sleep problems got so severe, just had sinus surgery. All of them saw a sleep specialist and/or neurologist.

Another thing, which I know is silly, but have you tried sleeping with a body pillow? It helps me...even when someone else is in the bed.

Those are my totally unsolicited thoughts. Not trying to force a diagnosis or anything. And I know it all takes money and insurance and time that is already being spent on other things just to get by. :(

Ben said...

I cannot empathize as my sleep issues are the opposite--I typically fall asleep very easily but toss and turn and wake up quite a bit as the night progresses. However, before rambling on, I will second the comment about a body pillow or some other large item. I sleep with a rolled up blanket pressed against my back from time to time and it is glorious. (Hey, I'm broke and single, one finds what works.)

I can sympathize with you on the crappy sleeping in general. My exhaustion let's me prevail in falling asleep, but my anxiety laughs in my face throughout the night. Not only do I toss and turn and never get comfy, but I also dream. And dream vividly.

I remember my dreams from almost every night. Often times I can step back and realize how amusing they are, but (without getting too Freudian) I also recognize the stress and anxiety issues buried within them. Seeing as I'll never be fully stress free, I suppose this is just a lifestyle of which I need to get used to. Heck, I've been having them most of my life as it is. At least on the positive side, the occasional sexy make-dream slips through! Those are totally worth all the dreaming.

I don't really have a point here, but I do have a question. With what little sleep you do get, do you dream? Or are your few hours at least solid sleep?

Danielle A. Curtiss, JD said...

& I am with Ben. I am also someone who loves to sleep and can fall asleep almost anywhere. Don't know if this is possible, and I am not a big fan of them, but what about animals? Is it possible for you to get a cat? or small dog? Like I said-not a fan of animals b/c I'm allergic and don't understand how people can take their dogs outside multiple times a day, but people really seem to talk about how it helps with feeling less lonely. Before meeting my husband I ALWAYS slept with the tv on. I shared a room for a good portion of my youth and it was so weird and lonely after my sister moved out. So I totally get the being alone in the room thing making it difficult to sleep.

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