Lids down, I count sheep. I count heartbeats. The only thing that counts is that I can't sleep.

I have had insomnia like whoa over this past week. It's not an uncommon thing for me; for some reason, I get terrible insomnia when the season changes. I go to bed exhausted only to toss and turn, finally fall asleep, and then wake up an hour or two later. Two more hours, then more light sleep until it's time to get up. Today, I can feel my body actually hum with fatigue. I am hesitant to take a sleep aid, since it's just PJ and I most nights but with Pete home tonight, it's Two Benedryl City for me. I'm hoping to straight up pass out.

I remembered an essay I had written years ago about the very subject and dug it up. It's from my youthful early-30's, but it's still the same story. I. Can't. Sleep. Some things never change.

I did all of the things I was told, but sleep still eluded me.

I am 31 years old, and I have had trouble sleeping since I left my teens. Before that, I was a typical teen- if sleeping had been an Olympic sport, I would have been the Michel Phelps of slumber. I had always been a night owl, but when I laid down, I went to sleep.

The sleeplessness eventually became so bad, I want to a clinic to have a sleep study done. This means submitting to having wires, probes, and straps strung about your body in order to record your brain waves, your leg twitches, your breathing. And after they string you up, they plop you into an unfamiliar room. "Okay", they say casually. "Night!".

It took me 45 minutes of laying in the dark to drift into the lightest of slumbers, and I felt a bit of injustice- Sunny von Bulow would have had trouble falling asleep under such circumstances! A few days later, a doctor sat down with me and showed me a bunch of lines and waves that represented my sleep patterns, or lack thereof. He sent me home, armed with a bunch of techniques that were supposed to help me practice better "sleep hygiene".

Sleep hygiene? Um, doctor, excuse me, but you're speaking to a girl who washes her feet off before she goes to bed, lest any stray foot funk acquired from wearing flip flops rub off on my sheets. Wait, that's not what it means? Ohhh.......

When I got married, I was determined to make our bedroom a sanctuary of restful repletion. No television. Good, quality bedclothes. A clock radio that acted not only as an alarm clock, but provided soothing sounds such as "rain forest" and "thunderstorm". Firm, comfy pillows designed for side sleepers (which I am). No cell phones near the bed, and no laptops in the room at all! I would say that it worked for my husband, but I can also say that he could fallen asleep on the same raft Elian Gonzales cruised into Miami on. My husband sleeps just fine.

I on the other hand, have found myself awake long after the light has been turned off, long after the 60 minute timer providing the "summer evening" sounds has timed out. I bring myself to bed exhausted, and somehow become as fully awake as ever as soon as I try to close my eyes.

God knows I try. I try counting, meditation, visualization techniques. But my mind drifts:

Sixty-seven...sixty eight...sixty-nine...

..heh heh...sixty-nine...

...I bet Bob would think that's funny...

...I haven't seen Bob in a while...

...and I'm off. My brain is like a hamster wheel with a cute, hyperactive rodent running, running running.

So, I lie awake, night after night, my thoughts crowding me out of my own bed.

1 comment

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

Sleep has been much more elusive as I've aged. I also do all The Things but some nights, it just doesn't happen well. I appreciate a good night of solid, deep sleep more than I ever thought I would.