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Recipe for insomnia

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.


May. 28th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
I've had trouble with insomnia, and can suggest a few things.

You might start by making sure you don't have any medical problems that are interfering with your sleep (trouble breathing, bouncing blood sugar, chronic pain can all cause sleep problems).

Make sure that your mattress and pillows are comfortable. Experiment with using extra pillows or get one of those body pillows (I love mine).

Try a hot bath and a warm drink (either heated milk or an herbal tea like chamomile) before bed, and try to keep your bedroom cool. That should help you relax, and having your body temperature drop more is supposed to promote deeper sleep. It may require some experimentation though (I don't sleep well if I'm too warm or too cold).

Melatonin can help, as can herbs like valerian. Make sure you get them from a reliable source (I like Trader Joe's).

Do hide the clock, and try to get rid of any other distractions.

Writing exercises can help deal with worries and irritating thoughts, and yoga is great too. I've also used hypnosis CDs for relaxation.
May. 31st, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
Good thoughts--thank you. Yeah, temperature definitely plays a part. Our room is hard to control for that, as it's in a finished attic with little insulation, so it's usually either a bit too warm or too cold. I'm pretty sure the rest is all in my head, so mental relaxation of sorts is probably my ticket. That, and bright lights in the morning, dim lights at night, etc. :)