Sunday, March 8, 2009

Insomnia

Like millions of people, I have suffered from insomnia my entire life. Perhaps the prevalence this condition (I hesitate to call it a medical problem, although it no doubt is on some level) is why it's kind of shrugged off with an, "Oh, you didn't sleep again? Sucks to be you" by the sleeping public.

I almost hit my husband one night a few months ago. Several times. And it's a good thing there were no knives handy. The first time "Pythagorus" looked over and said, "Are you having trouble sleeping?" I just nodded. By the third time, I was gritting my teeth to keep from going all Lindsay Lohan on him. At one point in the middle of the night, probably around 2:30 or so, I got up and went on the computer, hoping that it would bore me to sleep. Didn't work, but when I got back into bed, Pythagorus said, "Why are you going on the computer in the middle of the night?" And then this morning ... "You didn't sleep well, did you?" Gah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are a couple of different types of insomnia. For example, some people have a hard time falling asleep, but life is beautiful once they're able to finally achieve slumber. Others can fall asleep fairly easily but cannot stay asleep, hence never reaching REM sleep and getting a very poor period of rest. I fall into both of those categories depending on the night. Of the two, incidentally, the not being able to stay asleep bothers me more.

I have tried warm milk and relaxation music. I've agonized over setting up a bedtime routine. I've cut out caffeine (and withstood the horrendous headache that goes with this). I've kept the television off and books away from myself. I've tried keeping the light on (in fact, I've tried bathing my bedroom in various types of lighting). I've checked out actually watching television or reading a very boring book to see if it would lull me to sleep. I tried Advil PM and Benadryl.

Absolutely nothing worked, and we're talking months with very little sleep. I finally went to the doctor and had Ambien prescribed (but I got a little paranoid when Eminem very publicly struggled with addiction to that particular sleep aid, so I flushed it) so then I jumped on the butterfly bandwagon and had been using Lunesta with varying degrees of success for the past year or so. I'm back on Ambien now, although I'm not happy about it.

I wonder sometimes what causes insomnia, why some people have it when others don't. In my case, there is a very strong familial link as well as a fairly high level of stress both at work and at home. I question whether all of my insomnia is related to stress, however, in that I don't know what I could possibly have been stressed out about when I was five or six, and I can remember having serious sleep issues as early as then.

The nature of sleep is fascinating, really. It's a place to think, to de-stress, to escape, to hope, to dream, to fantasize, to come to conclusions you could never reach when in a waking state. I wish I could get there more often : )