Welcome to the insomnia blog that nobody asked for! What kind of insomnia, you now wonder reluctantly?
Well…that’s a bit of a question.
I’ve never been good at sleeping. It took me a really long time to figure out that this was something that one could be bad at, but there it is. I’m bad at sleeping. On a good day, this usually means that I read for an hour before bed and then it takes me an hour to fall asleep. On a bad day this means that I don’t sleep. I doze, I toss, I turn, I read, I watch infomercials about manna from heaven that comes in a jar. I cancel morning plans. I cancel afternoon plans. I put my head at the other end of the bed. I do breathing exercises. I experience sleep paralysis.
Most nights are some kind of in between, because it takes me a long time to get my brain to forget that we’re trying to fall asleep long enough to actually fall asleep.
When people find out you have sleep issues, they have all kinds of advice. Don’t look at screens. Meditate. Drink tea. Exercise. Write in a journal. Get a mantra. Count sheep. Count by threes. Pick your favorite movie and tell yourself the story. Create a daydream. Stop drinking. See a psychiatrist. Take a pill.
This is because sleep issues have lots of causes, and for many of types of insomnia, these are viable cures. Of course, you should see a doctor because sleep issues can have root physical or psychological causes that require treatment or are symptoms of a bigger issue.
These solutions just aren’t that helpful when the root cause is that you’re bad at sleeping. How do I know that I don’t have, for example, psychological issues keeping me awake at night, you ask? Well, I don’t. I’ve seen a psychologist, but I wouldn’t let him help me with my sleep issues. At the time I was actually sleeping strangely well for what was going on in my life. And I’ll be damned if, when I’m sleeping well, I’ll let someone talk me out of it.
But the possibility that I have psychological issues does keep me awake. Also, like I said, thinking about sleeping keeps me awake. Sobriety keeps me awake. Drinking keeps me awake. Daydreaming keeps me awake. Rich food keeps me awake. Hunger keeps me awake. The Pitch Perfect soundtrack keeps me awake. Any TV show I watch for more than three hours at a time keeps me awake. Recipes keep me awake. The mean thing I said to you in a moment of weakness two years ago keeps me awake.
Sometimes actually nothing keeps me awake. Seriously – the fact that I can’t think of anything to think about keeps me awake. For hours sometimes.
So when Kelly and I were discussing starting this blog, and we came up with the theme, what keeps us awake at night, I realized this was the thing I had been training for my whole life. Kelly’s going to have to tell you about how she gets to 3 AM on her own. As for me, well, here’s hoping that insomnia is not contagious. Because otherwise you’re screwed.