Anyone who has been here for a while, or who reads my facebook status updates, knows I am an insomniac.It has come and gone throughout my life. My first memorable insomnia experience was in high school, when I learned that Star Search came on at 2 AM. Not sure why we didn’t seek help then. I was regularly falling asleep in class.
Throughout my adult life, it has come and gone in spurts, a night here, a few weeks there. That was until March when it got hella worse. Can I explain what brings it on? Not really. What I do know is that I have “pervasive thoughts.” The brain, it just doesn’t turn off….like, ever. And while I have heard of people up at night with worry, I’m really just up with my head spinning around dumb stuff. “I wonder if I should buy a hammock”, “What do I need at the grocery store?” “what goes with that new shirt I bought?” Seriously! It’s annoying. Here is what insomnia, at it’s worse, looks like for me: Lying in bed for a few hours before falling asleep, awakening in the wee hours and either not being able to fall back asleep or waking about once an hour until it’s time to get up. Total suckage.
I have tried a bunch of things to address this issue:
- -tried taking an herbal sleep blend. Impact: nothing.
- -tried taking melatonin. Impact: nothing.
- -no caffeine after 2 PM. Impact: some improvement in falling asleep.
- -no alcohol. Impact: hard to tell, plus cutting it out completely is no fun.
- -experimenting with TV/sleep timer (not using it). Impact: hard to tell.
- -stopped taking vitamins at night. Impact: none on sleep but I feel less barfy 🙂
- -focus on breathing. Impact: annoyance.
- -reducing the temperature in the house. Impact: nothing.
- -cannot do the warm milk thing…just can’t do it. I am weird about dairy.
- -taking an anti-anxiety medication for the thoughts (I hate that it’s anti-anxiety because I don’t identify with the anxiety part…I don’t feel anxious, just have an active mind). Impact: Able to fall asleep most nights, not able to stay asleep. waking spells are shorter.
I’m sure that I have tried other stuff that I am forgetting. I’m just looking for the right combination. I’m really resisting taking “sleeping pills.” At the same time, the insomnia has never gone on for this long. My memory and my focus are suffering (fortunately, I have strategies for dealing with those things).
So here is where I am at right now. Yesterday, I ordered blackout shades for my bedroom and the guest room. It never really gets that dark here; that’s one thing I noticed after moving here. Must be our location on the map. I’ve seen other peoples’ blackout shades and they are awesome. Hope mine get here soon.
I also, am turning the guest bedroom into my “quiet place.” I try to spend some time in there every day. No clock, no TV, no music, no work or other distractions. This space is for reading and meditating. Yesterday, I painted it the same dark, calm blue that I have in my bedroom, so I am not distracted by the paint color that doesn’t go with my home color palate (see how my mind works?). It’s a really great space now. I’ll post some pictures.
And the yoga. So far, so good. It truly is calming and focuses the mind. The challenge is to figure out when to do it. Late enough that the relaxation benefits my sleep, not too late so the exercise disrupts my sleep.
There will come a time when I go back to the doctor but I want to exhaust all options first. At this point, I am getting better sleep but I would like to sleep through the night. It’s happened 2-3 times since March.
And if you think I’ve spent too much time thinking about this, you’re right. I have. It’s keeping me up at night! Maybe tonight I’ll be kept up by thinking that perhaps I should not use periods at the ends of bullet points.