Tuesday, April 27, 2021


 I have suffered from insomnia all my life -- one of my earliest memories is wandering around my house at well past midnight, getting snacks from the refrigerator in the dark kitchen and playing with my toys in the light from the streetlight, as it shone through the living room window. 

I couldn't read yet, so I was probably four years old. One reason I'm a writer, I suspect, is because I got through those long nights by making up stories to tell to myself.

Anyway. For awhile I managed to control the insomnia with melatonin. But now it's ba-a-ck, but in a weird new form: I fall asleep, usually before one a.m., but then I just skim the surface of sleep, waking every ten or twenty minutes, never falling into deep sleep.

A benefit (I guess) of sleeping this way is I can remember all my dreams. How useful that would be if I were in therapy now!

My dreams are very bloody, but also very cheerful. Make of that what you will.

I plan to call my physician and see if she will give me some sleep drugs.


Bardiac said...

I used to have really, really BAD insomnia. It was like I would just fret and fret about things, and get myself all riled up, and then not sleep. For HOURS.

After I had eye surgery and wasn't allowed to read for several months (back in the 90s), a friend brought me books on tape to help with the boredom. And I found I could fall asleep really easily listening to a book on tape, especially one whose basic plot (or history) I knew.

And now, pretty much any time I want to sleep, I lie down with a book on tape, and within about 15 minutes, I'm asleep. I think the other narrative helps me keep the fretting at bay.

Weirdly, I also listen to books on tape when driving long distances, and that doesn't make me sleepy at all.

I hope your doctor can help you. It's so horrid to have insomnia! I sometimes wonder how much better my life and studies would have been if I'd not had insomnia all growing up and into my 30s...

delagar said...

The times when I don't have insomnia are so wonderful.

When I've got a novel working really well, I lie in bed and think about the plot lines, and never have insomnia. So probably books on tapes will work too. I'll have to find a way to do that -- I'd need to wear headphones, bc Dr. Skull.

Jenny F Scientist said...

Speaking of books on tape, our library has a bunch on overdrive and it's so convenient to have things available electronically! I remember the olden days of switching out actual tapes.

My carsick kid listens to audio books on car trips (on a kindle, with headphones) and it leads to much more happiness.

I too suffer from eternal insomnia and it is the WORST.

Athena Andreadis said...

Really good (but not too intense or thought-provoking) stories are definitely effective against insomnia, especially if you select them to fit mood-of-the-moment. Many a time I've taken refuge in the favorite armchair in the small hours, to find myself passed out if I've been reading such a text. Just about all sleep drugs induce non-REM sleep which is not restorative, and most give about 2-4 hours of sleep before their influence literally winks out. Most are also lethal to long-term memory. Some alternatives (melatonin, valerian) are relatively benign but also relatively ineffective.

delagar said...

"Most are also lethal to long-term memory"

Well, THAT's not good.

Bardiac said...

As Jenny said, the public library here also has a nice supply of audio books which can be accessed with a phone or tablet (maybe a regular computer, also, I've never tried).

And as Athena says, I, too have to be careful of what books I choose. I listened to a history of a army company in Vietnam, and couldn't sleep at all because it was so intense. I definitely need fairly "light" stuff.

I have one of those "smart" watches that tracks my sleep, and my sleep patterns tend to be light sleep for a bit, then a longish session or two of deep sleep, then light sleep, then rem and light back and forth a bit. I think one of the reasons I do better when I go to bed early is that the deep sleep parts are longer, and the overall is longer. But especially the deep sleep parts.