Of all the things in life that have a way of eluding me, it seems that sleep is the most persistent. That simple, daily quest for a decent’s night sleep has long been instead, the good 90 or so minutes of solid REM time I get right before that alarm goes off.
It isn’t a every day problem, but insomnia has been a reoccurring theme in my night-time habits for as long as I can remember. The causes, or excuses as to why I just can’t nod off are varied; stress, too tired, not tired enough, too much mental stimulation before bed, something aches, my stomach in a state of reflux, something in my head drips, either my right eye or nostril, or that damned pillow just won’t set right. Add to that my brain running at its usual mach 20 as it goes over what ever it will, despite my mental shouting at it to shut up already. That’s just this week.
When I was younger and realizing that sleep wasn’t going to occur in awhile, I used to make up stories in my head to pass the hours before I finally nodded off. Eventually I started writing a few of them down, which led to the discovery that I could channel that insomniac creative outlet during the daylight hours. It still didn’t help my sleep patterns.
I learned that I needed to avoid strong visual or audio stimulation before bed. Movies, especially anything exciting would with have me running scenes instead of dreams. If the movie was of a somewhat violent nature, what sleep I got would be interrupted by a bad dream. Then it would take me awhile to digest that internal visual before the fight for sleep begins anew.
As for music, my brain has been plagued by a acute case of earworm, most active at night. I can take 2 lines from any song, usually ones with the more inane lyrics and find it playing in my head in a seemingly endless loop for a good three hours. If the lyrics are particularly silly, like Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup, or Chim Chim Cheree from the film Chitty Chitty Bang!Bang! I can expect a good week’s run of the song snippet during the daylight hours as well.
As I got older I discovered to really screw up my dismal sleep patterns, I could count on stress every time. During the most stressful times of my life, I had to resort to medication to reset my sleep clock, because I’d literally stop sleeping all together. I never liked the medications but they did the job. I also discovered that other medications for the allergy/asthma sufferer that is me, could also render sleep utterly useless.
I honestly envy people who can fall asleep in a chair watching a ballgame, like my new spouse, or in the middle of play like a small child, or in the car, or during church. Napping is a skill I outgrew during my toddler years. It is rare that I manage a successful nap. I try on occasion with marginal success, usually giving up after about 15 minutes.
I know that I am not alone in this malady that is called “I just wish I could sleep”. There have long been over the counter sleep aids. (they help me not at all) as well as prescribed ones, the success rate on those with me range from, fair to “You mean there was a naked marching band in my room and I slept through it?” No one has to tell me that lack of good sleep affects my ability to function during the day, I am quite familiar with the feeling of wishing I could curl up in a ball under my desk at work. It’s a silly thought. I know well, that without a bed, properly plumped pillows, the fans at the proper velocity, the correct lack of light or sound, and nothing on or within my body causing some form or real or imagined discomfort, I won’t be sleeping anywhere.
I am going to try this going to sleep again tonight, if I can. Thanks to my mentioning two of the songs that have had recent and prominent play time in my head, they are both going at once. Curse those earworms and their dueling play lists!