Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sleep...or Lack Thereof


I have a problem. I never thought it would happen in a million years. I swore up and down that it wouldn't. But, here I am turning into my mother. At night, anyway.

Until recently, insomnia was a foreign idea to me. I could sleep anytime, anywhere, as soon as my drowsy head hit the pillow. Enjoying eight or nine hours a night in a semi coma-like state was the norm. Once, in my younger, single days, I even slept through an attempted break-in to my apartment. Cops showed up and everything, and I didn't so much as stir. When my roommate told me about it the next day, I refused to beleive her until she showed me where the screen door had been smashed in.

But lately, something has shifted. It feels like a hormonal thing. Not every night, but during certain times of the month, I lay awake for hours, my mind racing, my body totally exhausted but unable to get the rest it needs. I've tried a number of things. Herbal pills, and teas, and a recent prescription for Adavan my doctor suggested I take. Sometimes they work, but not always. Not on the really bad nights, when I feel like running a marathon at three in the morning. I probably could too, but I know I'd be even more of a basket case at work the next day. So I keep laying there, trying desperately to make my brain shut down and catch a couple of zzz's. And hoping it won't get worse like it did with my mother.

My mother has suffered from sleep deprivation for years, usually getting no more than four or five hours of sleep a night, and very often, only an hour or two at a time. When she still worked, she would then get up and put in a full day, sometimes doing 12 hour shifts.

It explains a lot now. I can understand her annoyance with us, which at the time I couldn't. And it was hard. There was a lot of internalizing and self-blaming. But as the saying goes, "You'll understand when you get older",  I suppose I finally do. I understand the irritable sighs and impatient, sometimes biting remarks were not my fault. I wasn't the cause, at least not directly, of her frustration.

I also understand being exhausted to the point of feeling nauseous, so dazed and out of it that it's probably not wise to be driving around the city, especially with a little boy in the backseat. A boy who likes to ask questions and talk and laugh and doesn't deserve to be ignored or snarled at because Mommy's too tired to answer. I also know I'm not the only sleep-deprived Mom out there on the loose.

So, I try to keep it together, at least until he's home, safe in bed and I curl up with a book and some warm milk and pray to the sleep gods to please just let me have a decent night's rest...

What do you do when you can't sleep? If anyone has any other suggestions, let me know - I'll try anything right now!

8 comments:

Peggy Sue Brister said...

I take a Melatonin an hour before bedtime. It is a natural sleep aid.

Bibliomama said...

I've tried melatonin (along with many many other things) -- like most things, it made me too groggy the next day, even when it did work, which wasn't always. I have nothing to offer except my profoundest sympathy and empathy -- I've never been a great sleeper. I remember when I was about ten finding out that many people fell asleep within minutes of going to bed and feeling astounded. I have worse times of the month hormonally too, but in general my problem now is I take hours to fall asleep and I can never wake up without feeling like I've recently dragged myself out from under a city bus. It sucks. My sister in law has had good results with behavioural therapy. Which sounds good, but honestly, who has the energy? :)

My Momma Drama said...

Oh, I feel for you! My husband takes over the counter sleep aids and my co-worker takes Melatonin, but if you're taking a prescription aid and it doesn't always help, those probably won't either :( Sometimes it's hard for me to stop my mind from racing. Even through the move - with late nights, early mornings, and no food in my body, I still couldn't go to sleep... I just kept thinking about all the things I had to get done!

I know it's not the same as insomnia, but when my mind's racing... I just focus on my breathing and eventually I'll drift off.

I hope it's just a phase in your life due to your house purchase and move - not a permanent thing! Oh, and no you're not the only one snappy... I've been nippy at my husband and kids for the last two weeks...

Cheryl said...

You poor thing!! I've had that problem a lot lately, where it takes me forever to fall asleep. One thing that helps is exercise. If I go for a run in the morning, I sleep better at night. Physical exhaustion overpowers the mental exhaustion.

Sandra said...

Try a sedative called clonazepam...yes, sedate yourself and not with Atavan, that stuff will mess you up! On a positive note though Pamela, your insomnia is given you great fodder for the blog! I laughed when I read that you have slept through a breakin! I'm putting you on my blog roll, I don't want to miss a thing!

The Mayor! said...

Sleep?? I vaguley recall having heard the term before...but I'm fuzzy on the details, so it apparently hasn't had any bearing on my life in a very long time. Interesting concept though, I'm curious to learn more...

Pamela said...

Thanks for your suggestions and sympathy, friends:) It helps just knowing others have the same problems. Well, actually it doesn't help, literally, but you know what I mean:P
Peggy - I have tried melatonin (among others) as well; sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

Allison - oh, man, I can totally relate to the dragging myself from beneath a bus feeling! And groggy? Yes, that's become the norm for me these days!

MyMommaDrama - Sometimes the breathing thing helps. I do hot yoga so I try some meditation techniques but I tend to get all panicky when they don't work right away, which makes me even more wide awake...and yeah, the house thing isn't helping. Maybe once we're settled in, things will get better.

Cheryl - Yes, I really have to get back into an exercise routine. When I used to walk regularly, it did help - it's just trying to fit it in and find time when I'm not too exhausted - vicious circle!

Sandra - I haven't tried clonazepam - I'll have to check it out. And thanks for your kind words - I'm adding you too:)

Mayor - you crazy kook! Yes, I know - sleep is an interesting concept isn't it? I can imagine you must really be lacking in that department - although you seem to have 10 times the energy I have! I'm really starting to hate your all-of-100-lbs self, what with your perfect head of hair and non-oily skin!! Just kidding, you know I love ya!

The Empress said...

This is what I did, and it worked. I bought a yoga dvd and do it before bed. in my room. it just works.

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