Take a handful of any of the following irritations, and stir (and toss, and turn).
- My arm is squished if I lie like this.
- My hip hurts if I lie like that.
- The pillow is blocking my nostril.
- My shoulder is too cold.
- My feet are too hot.
- I should get up and go to the bathroom. No I shouldn't. Yes I should. No I shouldn't.
- The inside of my nose itches.
- I'm so hungry my stomach is eating itself.
- My mouth is dry. My teeth are sticking to my lips. I should get a drink of water. No I shouldn't. Yes I should. No I shouldn't.
- My hair is poking me in the neck.
- My ear is bent funny against the pillow.
- My nightshirt is twisted around me too tight.
- I'm preoccupied by those emails I need to answer.
- I'm preoccupied by thinking about illness, injury, and death.
- I'm preoccupied by story ideas I don't spend enough time working on.
- I'm preoccupied by the insulting things people said to me five, ten, or fifteen years ago.
- I'm furious because I'm going to be too tired tomorrow to get anything done.
- Furious. Argh.
- A bird is singing outside. It's only 4:00 a.m. Argh. Hate the bird.
...And this says nothing about sleep disruptions caused by others, such as toddlers. Then, at least, there's a reason I'm awake. But there is nothing more agonizingly frustrating than lying awake for no good reason while the clock ticks away the minutes and hours. 12:48...1:15...2:09...3:34...4:02...and you bargain for less and less time. I'll be all right if I can just get six hours of sleep...or five...or three and a half...or two...
I've been this way off and on for most of my life. The worst spell was in college, when, for no apparent reason, I didn't sleep at all for about a week. These days I usually do get at least a few hours even on the worst nights, and the worst nights are no more than a few times a month. But I'd rather get seven or eight hours every night, thanks.
I don't want meds. At least, not really, not regularly, not so I rely upon them. Does anyone have other sleep-inducing tricks? Acupressure points? Breathing techniques? Melville novels?
All other insomniacs out there, come here. Group hug. I'm sorry I didn't come out earlier. It's nothing to be ashamed of, except maybe once in a while when we turn into total crazy people and beat our heads against the pillow, or kick the mattress repeatedly with our heels, or throw ourselves upon the floor in a frustrated heap. But sleep deprivation is a form of torture, you know.