Tuesday, August 28, 2012


: prolonged and usually abnormal inability to get enough sleep

I have never had trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.  Until the last few months.  Insomnia is my new best friend and I don't like her very much.  Sure, thanks to insomnia I've finished a lot of books lately.  But I've written less, lost my temper more, felt overwhelmed and tired and been generally out of sorts.  I've had the newfound experience of dreading bedtime for fear that sleep will not come.

The thing about my insomnia (perhaps all insomnia?) is that it's unpredictable.  I don't know what the night holds.   Will I be able to fall asleep and sleep all night?  Or maybe I'll toss and turn, the eyes of my mind wide open, unable to fall asleep?  Or perhaps I'll fall asleep normally and wake mid-sleep cycle for a few hours?

If the insomnia has been unpredictable, my reaction to it has been predictable.  For the first few months, I would get up and go for a walk outside, enjoying the night air, hoping it would tire me enough for sleep.  But back in July one of those night walks left me limping home, thanks to what I came to know was a stress fracture.  So the last six weeks have found me grabbing my book and curling up with it until I either finish the book or feel drowsy enough to attempt sleep again.

I've found myself wondering whether this is the best approach.  Should I instead do laundry or clean or get organized?  Should I pack boxes of books to get ready for our move?  In short, should I be productive during these wakeful moments or should I use them for restful activities in the hopes that they will yield rest?

These thoughts have spilled over into analysis of my evenings.  At what point should I stop "working" and allow myself to read, relax and unwind for the night?  This used to come fairly naturally to me.  After dinner, J and I would put the girls to bed and read or watch TV.  But our nights have different shape and form now.  A has ballet until 8 Monday through Thursday.  It's now nearly 9 pm and she is eating a portion of black beans and rice - a belated dinner.  But you can't really have dinner at 3:30, dance for three and a half hours and then drop into bed.  At least she can't do that.  She's hungry.  So she stays up, pushing our evening routine later and later. 

My years of parenting have programmed me to believe I must be working in some way until my children are asleep in bed.  Perhaps this notion needs to be shed as they age and our schedule changes.  I do know this:  I am rarely feel rested.  This surely has something to do with the fact that we are selling a house, buying a house and preparing to move.  But it's also about my inability to slow my mind down enough to rest.

Is my insomnia physical?  mental? hormonal?  I don't know.  I do know I need to allow myself some time to rest without feeling guilty that I'm not being productive.  I need to find a way to not fight everything so much.

And if you're reading this and are an experienced insomniac, feel free to offer me tips on how to best use my insomnia...

1 comment:

Kim said...

Ive suffered for years. It happens too frequently to "use" it. Instead I try to "cure" it (jolt my body out of it) and I have found recently Melatonin for 1-2 nights works wonders. Then (usually) I remember what I should be doing. Try Melatonin (I got it as Whole Foods). Call if you have any questions. I am truly an expert.