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Insomniacs… Anyone? Anyone?

I’ve been a lifelong insomniac.

I’ve sought help through countless books and articles. I’ve tried all kinds of sleep aids:  OTC ones like Melatonin or Unisom, and all kinds of natural solutions…  turkey, herbal tea, peanut butter, warm milk, cheese, forcing myself to get up earlier so I’ll feel sleep sooner… I’ve tried it all.

It’s hard for people who can flip the “brain-off” switch (like my wife) to understand how frustrating it is to go to bed and have your brain kick into overdrive. It’s like my pillow is a thought accelerant. Almost nothing is as aggravating as looking at the clock, seeing a bright red 4:00 AM, and knowing you have to get up in a couple of hours. And aggravation isn’t exactly tryptophan.

In High School, I actually researched sleeping and relaxation techniques–not exactly a book selection I shared with my peers. I learned to exercise selective disclosure after telling a buddy during football practice that I had recently read “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  The “influence” provoked a healthy round of mockery.  So yeah, I wasn’t about to tell them I was reading about self hypnosis and relaxation.

During the times in my life when I actually DID master the early morning wake-up,  I can’t deny I felt like a million bucks–exercising and studying at 7 AM. I was getting my day started off the right way, and nothing was gonna “break my stride”, a la Matthew Wilder. Would I prefer that? Of course.  Sans the massive mustache of course.

But those times were the exception, not the norm… and I’ve recently embraced my Night Owl-ness. Instead of trying to fall asleep to episodes of Psych or Monk (They work as well as anything. Not intense or gory, but are captivating enough so I don’t think about anything that is truly worrying me–perfect combo for an insomniac) I blog, conduct research, exercise, etc. Then I feel I’m not wasting time–because after-all, those bright eyed bushy-tailed morning people are doing the same thing,  right? But I struggle to view it positively, due to the social stigma associated with having a hard time waking up early.

Sometimes, though, I just have no desire to go to sleep. It’s like I’m 9 again, and I just got sent to bed..and more than anything, I wish I could be up laughing and playing games with my older siblings.  Except, there is no laughter, no party, just some no-deadline time to read, blog, research, etc.

This hits harder Sunday nights. I dread the thought that my weekend, the “my time” portion of the week is over. If I go to sleep, the next thing I know, my alarm is ringing, and I am hitting the snooze button–and I’m off to work where my time isn’t really my own.

So I drag out being awake as long as possible. Like now, here it is at midnight, and I have no desire to call it quits on the weekend. So I’ll finish this post, then read “Term Limits” by Vince Flynn until my eyes start descending like a garage door whose motor has died.

Do any of you have insomnia? Or are you one of “those people” who say they can’t ever sleep past 7 am?  Does your brain click off when your head hits the pillow, or do you start running through your lists and deadline?

And what do you think…should I just embrace being a “night owl”? Or should I try to alter my internal clock so I can feel like I have a more productive morning?

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  1. I am a night owl, and an insomniac. I also have a morning job. I’ve embraced it – and just started working in a nap in the afternoon. Strangely, I have no problem falling asleep in the afternoon.

    • Craig

       /  February 20, 2012

      I would like to work in an afternoon nap. I actually probably could, if I rearranged a few things… I happen to have a job that gives me a massive mid-day break, which is usually filled up with errands and such. I could potentially get a little shut-eye, though, and that would probably feel a lot more refreshing than an afternoon energy drink.

      • It really makes a world of difference. I still don’t sleep the ‘suggested’ 8 hours a day, but I find I feel better with small frequent amounts of sleep rather than one long snooze. 6 hours of sleep at a time leaves me feeling hazy and fogged over.

  2. If it’s not a problem for you with work or other important areas of your life there is no reason not to embrace being a night person. I have the luxury of not having to be at work until 4 in the afternoon, so after I’m done working I still have a whole late night ahead of me to blog or do whatever (luckily I married a night owl, so our schedules sync up well). Just think, 24 hour a day mini marts and all night diners were invented for people like us.

    • Craig

       /  February 20, 2012

      That’s a really good point… and Wal-Mart is a heck of a lot more manageable at midnight than it is at 7 or 8 PM.

  3. Your sis

     /  February 20, 2012

    I think my comment went in under Rook! Sorry about that! That was me. 😀

  4. I usually go to sleep easily, but there are nights when the brain will not stop speeding ahead. If I have enough vigor left, I do best jumping on a project. Then I have at least done something productive.

  5. Your sis

     /  February 21, 2012

    I used to have an extremely hard time getting to sleep when I had the heart problem. I’d lay awake until 5 or 6 am many a night because of it and my mind would be whirling uncontrollably through all sorts of things. I learned to control it not by counting sheep (that always seemed a weird thing to do) but by reciting to myself all 35 (at the time) Dick Francis fiction books in alphabetical order. I couldn’t stop doing it until I got them all. Usually i would fall asleep the second or third time through the list. Maybe find something like that that would work for you? It needs to be a long list, though. Something that takes some concentration to remember everything.

    Nowadays, I still don’t get to bed before 1 am. I settle my mind now by working on a sudoku puzzle before turning out the light and I nearly always fall asleep immediately. And since I have to be up at 7 to get my daughter off to school, I usually take an afternoon nap. So definitely, schedule in an afternoon nap for yourself. Makes a world of difference.

    I would LOVE to go shopping in the middle of the night but because of the cancer, I’m not as strong as I used to be so I don’t feel quite as comfortable defending myself from bad guys, if need be. But if you end up going to Walmart in the middle of the night, let me know. I might go with you. I’d feel easier going if I had a big, burly guy with me! 😀


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