O! Why Dost Thou Ellude Me O Sleep!

I can’t sleep.

Try as I might, for several nights now I just lie awake, mind racing, heart racing, watching the minutes tick by on the clock, which now projects the time in big red numbers on the wall. This past night I woke at 2:22 a.m. and was wide awake until at least 5:52. Of course near the time I am supposed to get up for work, I finally fall into a light sleep.

I have a history of insomnia.

Some of my very first memories are of me standing at my bedroom window watching for the occasional car that would drive down our street. It seemed as though I would stand and watch for hours, but at that young age I don’t think I had any accurate sense of time.

Around the age of 10, I went through a period of several months where anxiety would overcome me at night and fear would possess me over the idea that I was the only one in the world awake. And that one of the airplanes flying overhead on the way to DCA would explode and rain dead bodies on top of the house. I would wander the house from room to room not knowing what to do with myself. I would visit the bedrooms of my brother and sister and jealously sit on their floor as they slept soundly. I remember going to a sleepover at my friend Sarah’s and making my parents come get me in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep and didn’t know what to do in a strange house at night. It was during this period that I finally learned several tricks, some of which I still use today, to help me fall asleep.

As an adult I have pockets of sleeplessness, usually accompanied by some kind of stress. Some bouts last a while, a month or two at a time. Even though this particular pocket has been brief, just a couple of weeks, the period I am awake in the night is accompanied by a much stronger sense of anxiousness than in recent times.

The major problem here is that I cannot seem to get my brain to shut the heck up. It takes me on a rollercoaster ride of all kinds of thoughts, images and problem solving. Something like this:

Oh shit, I woke up. Not good. Maybe if I just go pee and come back I will fall back asleep as if I never work up.

I go pee.

OK, time to go back to sleep now. I wonder what I should do about xx work problem. Is it as bad as I think? I really need to get that taken care of tomorrow and stop stalling on it. Really, enough is enough. If I don’t do something about it, it is just going to get worse and then I will be in deep doo-doo. Crap. I am still awake. Why can’t I sleep? 20 minutes have passed. It’s OK. If I fall asleep now, I will still get 4 hours of sleep. That’s enough to function. Right? OK, now an hour has passed and I am still awake. Thats not good. I am going to wake up tired and cranky and I have to get on the train and get into the city and shit I have to work late tomorrow because I have an event to go to and I am still awake. I wonder which would have a bigger historical and cultural impact, if an African-American man or a white woman were elected president? Should I really vote for Barak? When is super-Tuesday? Oh, that’s just a few days away should I vote in the city or in Rockville Centre? Am I allowed to vote in the city if I am registered in Nassau County? I need to remember to look that up tomorrow. And while I am at it I really need to look up the number for my dentist and set up that appointment now that i have insurance again. Oh, and I have to check to see if Damir made his dentist appointment since I know he has a lot more work on those cavities. He’s so cute sleeping next to me. Sleep. Why aren’t I sleeping? Oh god. I have to be up soon and I am going to be so tired. I am fucked.

As you can guess, this churns on and on until daylight breaks. Most of the tricks I learned as a kid involve getting the brain off this endless track of nonsense. Kind of like counting sheep, but not really. But for some reason, that’s just not working for me anymore. It’s, to say the least, incredibly frustrating.

4 thoughts on “O! Why Dost Thou Ellude Me O Sleep!

  1. Hi Terra… I highly recommend going to a sleep medicine clinic to get some potential solutions to your insomnia. They will give you a “comfy” hotel room, hook you up to an EKG, attach wires to you so they can measure all of your movements, turn on the video camera and tell you to go have a a good night’s sleep (or at least a normal one!) They will be able to give you a better diagnosis and potentially a better course of treatment than your GP. They specialize in solving sleep problems – it worked for me! :-)Here’s one in NY:http://www.sleepmedicinenyc.com/

  2. But does that work for people who can’t fall asleep? I thought that was more for like sleep appnia (sp?). I wonder of my insurance would cover something like that.

  3. When I can’t fall asleep and my brain is in overdrive, I have a little trick that works for me. I count backwards from 100, and then I start to recount in integers of 10, until my brain is so overwhelmed that I drift off. You forget your other thoughts if you focus hard and concentrate on counting. Also, I make sure I am comfy in bed and do this with my eyes closed. 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 91, 90, 89, 100, 88, 99, 87, 98, 86, 97, 85, 96, 84, 95, 83, 94, 82, 93, 81, 92, 80, 91, 79, 90, 78, 89, 100… zzz. If you mess up, start from the top.

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