At first glance, insomnia really does seem cool. No, I’m serious. I don’t know about you, but I’m often annoyed that I need to spend a third of my life pointlessly sleeping. I’ve got things to do man.
Unfortunately insomnia really isn’t as cool as just “never getting tired.” See, here it is almost midnight and I’m so absurdly tired that I have to concentrate on every word to make sure it makes sense. Dirt puddle fluffy leg McDoogle dryer. (hehehe, see what I did there…)
I figured I’d take this opportunity to dispel a few misconceptions about what it means to have insomnia. Yes, it means you can’t sleep, but there’s more to it than that:
- Insomnia means you’re tired but can’t sleep. It doesn’t mean you’re not tired so you don’t sleep.
- While some methods of curing (or at least remedying) sleeplessness work for some people, for others they don’t. My examples will be for my case, obviously.
- Reading (again for me) doesn’t work, because I’m too tired to concentrate, so the book doesn’t soak in. It’s basically like reading strings of pointless words. That gets boring pretty quick
- Counting sheep. Please. I could barely force myself to count sheep if I actually had sheep I was responsible to keep track of.
- Over the counter drugs for sleep aid generally do make me go to sleep, but only in short, freakishly strange bouts of dreams. I get out of bed in the morning not only still tired, but as if I just lived through a season of the X-Files
- Work. Sounds good right? Can’t sleep, just do some work. The problem is that my brain is silly putty, remember? Trust me you don’t want me configuring servers OR writing for a magazine in this state. You think I’m bizarre on a good day, just imagine “loopy” Shawn. It sounds better on paper, trust me.
To add insult to injury, in order to actually function the following day I usually need to caffeinate myself. I’m sure you see the problem that likely causes and the vicious circle I find myself in.
So as midnight looms and I’ve already tried for hours to sleep — I now go into the mode that I try relaxation techniques and such. If things go like they have been, about 4:30 I’ll start debating whether trying to go to bed will be worse than just staying up. 4:30 is about my “point of no return” time. About then I consider making coffee.
Sweet dreams everyone. 🙂
11 thoughts on “Real Life Zombies: Insomniacs”
Yeah that pretty much sums up my life dude. Not fun at all even tho I joke about it. Oh irony: its currently 4:30 here, I totally feel your pain.
I’ve been plagued with insomnia most of my life. Lately I’ve been having luck with audiobooks helping me to relax and drift off. I’m too tired to pay attention, but it requires enough attention that it keeps my brain from running in circles, and I’ve had good luck with that.
Remember, I’m four hours behind. If I’m at the terminal and you ping me, I’m most always up for chat.
Are you nodding off at work? Here’s a suggestion that’s actually serious (as opposed to my normal inane blatherations).
Assuming you’ve got a couch at work, (if you don’t, you should), try going back to work one night after the kids have gone to bed. Just plan to work all night. If and when you find yourself nodding off, just stop what you’re doing and drop off onto the couch.
The theory behind this one is that at home, you have an expectation of being able to sleep and since you can’t, you’re putting additional pressure on yourself to go to sleep already. It’s a vicious circle. At work, your expectation is to be ‘getting things done’ and, obviously, there’s no pressure to get to sleep. If, the urge, shows up though, just give in to it.
This isn’t meant as a permanent solution to your insomnia, just a way to 1.) get a decent night’s sleep, and 2.) reboot your sleep cycles.
This is really only meant as a desperation solution, but you sound exhausted. The worst that can happen is that you end up with an immaculate desk. (And we all know that’s not your usual problem.)
Avoid the caffeine if you can (or at least don’t have any past noon). Hang in there, I’ve so been there. It’s getting better for me, but there are nights when it’s just wicked terrible. Try some of the other stuff in the last post, and talk to your doc… it can’t hurt to at least try their ideas, whether it’s a sleep study (which you don’t get much sleep at by the way!) or pills or massage or whatever.
I’m not four hours behind, but I tend to be up and around at 4am anyway, so if you want company and inane conversation you could always drop by the chat. 😉
My own insomnia is much milder than yours (I do manage to fall sleep – only it is always hours later than I decide I want to), but I feel for you, man. I have no remedies, unfortunately. Nathan’s suggestion seems like something to try, though.
Well, I’m late to the party (again) and I hope that your insomnia has gotten better.
I go through occasional bouts of insomnia and am doing so now. The thing that’s been working for me lately is putting a DVD in the player, turning the sound down super low and drifting off to that as white noise. As I’m single and am not sharing a bed with my SO on a regular basis just yet (and he tends to fall asleep to CNN or a DVD anyway, so it wouldn’t bother him), this may not work as well for your wife, but it’s been helping me – the DVD provides a mental distraction so that I’m not constantly thinking, “Must sleep NOW!”
(Oddly enough, if I hear a TV or a conversation in another room, I cannot sleep. Yes, I am weird.)
Also, melatonin has helped me to sleep, but I’ve felt groggy the next day. YMMV, as a good friend of mine isn’t affected by melatonin at all.
I often travel to distant time zones, and I do find that melatonin works with only mild forms of the strange dreams that plague the hypnotics and narcotics.
On the other hand, if you don’t have enough time to get a full night’s sleep, don’t take it, as you’ll be fuzzy the next day, and I had one experience where I woke up but the motor block your brain puts on to keep you from acting out *all* your dreams was still in effect. I was conscious but paralyzed. THAT was scary.
But melatonin does not work for everyone, I don’t know if you’ve given it a try. While for me it does not prevent the occasional wake-up in the middle of the night when I just flew in from a time zone 13 hours away, it does help me get right back to sleep when I do wake up – a marked improvement.
Stop using Linux on the desktop. You’ll sleep like a baby.
Today, using PCLinuxOS 2009 … I manually built the latest subversion client (1.6.1) from source. Everything ran fine.
Then, I enabled compiz-fusion. I then uninstalled the *old* subversion client via synaptic.
When I did so, synaptic also uninstalled compiz fusion.
What? I uninstall a CLI code repository client application, and it removes a desktop 3D graphics application?
Linus is ready for the desktop. Sure.
If I stop using Linux, I’ll likely lose both of my jobs. Something tells me sleeping in a cardboard box with my family won’t help much with insomnia…
Some other things to try: L-tryptophan capsules or passionflower herbal extract. They both work for me. Melantonin doesn’t work as well.
Linux GIVES me insomnia!! But I’m working at learning to use Ubuntu. yawn.