Insomnia sucks, or perhaps I’m just a loser.


(c) 2010 Mom of Three Photography, all rights reserved.

So, it’s 5:49 a.m. in Jersey City, NJ.  And I’m wide awake.  Worried about this, worried about that, you know, the usual and very important shit.  Money, relationships, my kids, the weather, football season, the fact that I’m way overdue for a manicure, whether or not people are reading my blog and digging my photography, the fact that people are worried about me because I’m not working a respectable job and that they have no idea how I’m going to pay my rent…don’t worry.  I won’t become homeless, forced to resort to begging in front of Starbucks in downtown Jersey City with a cup and a sad, pathetic sign on my back.  I won’t ask to sleep on your couch. 

Not yet.

Anyway, I digress.

Yeah, those things (and others) wake me up in the middle of the night, usually around 3am.  I’ve battled insomnia for years, and I have not been able to win the war.  The only time I can sleep through the night is when I take a sleep aid.  Believe me, I’ve tried them all.   Tylenol, Advil, some prescription stuff that didn’t even work, natural remedies….

Soft music playing in the background?  Doesn’t work.

Warm milk?  Doesn’t work, and it’s not really advisable because I’m lactose intolerant.

Cool temperatures?  Don’t work.

Warm temperatures?  Don’t work.

Warm baths? Don’t work.

Hot showers?  Don’t work.

Total darkness and silence?  Doesn’t work.

I even went in for a sleep study, because my doctor thought maybe I was suffering from sleep apnea.  That was fun.  I spent a perfectly good evening shivering in a sterile, cold ass room, face, back, neck, arms and torso strapped to wires and sensors, feeling very anxious.  See, black women have a thing about being tied up.  It’s a subconscious anxiety that has nothing at all to do with slavery.  Not. At. All.

The tech ordered me to get undressed, and that I would be expected to shut the lights off around 10pm. Well, for me, things are just getting started on or after 10:30, so I was feeling a heightened sense of anxiety.  No phone, no Twitter, no Facebook, no texting?  I had to actually go to sleep?  F*ck.

As I recall, I didn’t get a restful sleep that night.  At the time I was going through it with my allergies, and so the coughing fits began on time, around 1am.  I would cough, and cough, and cough, and to try to manage I would take cough drops.  So I have wires and sensors attached to my face, and they’re tangled up and I can’t move.  I’m cold.  I’m unable to sleep.  And I have four or five cough drops in my mouth. Fabulous.

If I was lucky, I got maybe 4 or 5 hours of sleep.  Well, after a night of sleep shenanigans, I was awakened at 5:45 am by Nurse Hatchet.  I had to pee something fierce, but I had to sit on my hands while she disattached all of the wires and sensors from my face, neck, chest and back.  It was longest 15 minutes of my life.  And that pee was the longest and most blissful of my 37 years.  Ahhhhh….

Anyway, after going through that torturous night, I found out that I *didn’t* have sleep apnea.  FML.

So I’m just a chronic insomniac/loser. And it’s now 6am.  Maybe I’ll go watch the sunrise. 

Have you battled insomnia?  What wakes you up at night?  What makes you so anxious that it’s hard for you to get a good night’s sleep?  Tell me about it.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Alicia Klotz says:

    I think you may have answered your own question…anxiety. Insomnia, at least what I have been hearing in my circles, is growing in popularity (yeah, like it’s a choice). For some people I have talked to, it’s been the same explanation….”my mind is going and going”….”I worry about this and that”…”I think about how I am NOT getting sleep all night”…etc. Anxiety comes in many shapes, forms, sizes and levels. During my psychiatric rotation in nursing school, it was fascinating to me how big of a role that anxiety plays in our lives. Anxiety can affect sleep, work, our choices,how we react to others, and our perception of how we think we control things around us. I know for me, when I lay down at night, I already know when it’s going to be a long one…almost as if my anxiety is telling my brain, “Wait, you’re not done yet…you can’t sleep.”

    So, sorry for you sleep study experience. I swear that environment they have set-up is totally not conducive to sleeping anyway. You may not have had a sleep problem going in, but I’m sure you’re convinced you have one on the way out!

    Change your focus from trying to SLEEP. Pull back from “sleep” aids and warm milk. Focus on the anxiety. There ain’t nothing you can control or change at 3am. Well, unless, of course you give in to your “night-owl-ism”, tell everyone you work the night shift…and change the world! Besides, I know plenty of people who wouldn’t mind joining you.

    And if all else fails, hit your doc up for some anti-anxiety meds, like Ativan or Xanax….thats some good shit!

    1. I should have known that the health professional would be on deck to troubleshoot my problem. I think my problem has a lot more to do with the anxiety of not really having a proper “job” and pulling away from everyone’s expectations of me. Once I break free from those constraints, I believe my sleep problems will stop.

      On the flip side, maybe you’re right about the night owl thing. Maybe if I used that time to write or take photos, I’ll find that maybe that’s the best time for me to be creative. I read somewhere that sometimes the body signals to the brain or vice versa when it’s the best time for it to function….again, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom…that most people function best during the day…and I find that to be not always the case.

      Don’t wanna do the meds, I think I’ll just push through this phase and keep you guys updated on my progress! 🙂

  2. Shawn says:

    That sucks! I am counting my blessings that I don’t have that issue (although the hubby does). I think Alicia has a point about not focusing on trying to sleep. It may just come to you. I agree with staying away from the rx stuff. Too much potential for dependency there. You just may need to switch your daily routine and try the “night shift”, but be careful, it seems the creeps come out at night. Keep me posted.

    1. Hey Shawn, thanks for stopping by. It’s interesting that you say that, I understand that a lot of men tend to have problems stemming from undiagnosed sleep apnea.

      Regarding my insomnia, it comes and goes in phases. Sometimes I’ll have a long run where I sleep like a baby. Then I’ll run into a brick wall where I can’t sleep through the night. It’s usually tied to something I’m dealing with at work or whatever, but once I get over my hurdle, I’ll resume good sleeping habits. But like I said before, it’s a problem I’ve dealt with for years.

      One thing that I can say is that insomnia is definitely an issue that cuts across race, gender, education, etc. When I mention insomnia, most people can relate to what I’m talking about.

  3. Carolann says:

    I used to have constant insomnia whe I worked in Finance for 8+ years. When I quit to pursue another career- was a little better. After grad school and being able to focus on a new career that I love – I find that i sleep a hell of a lot better. But who knows it may be the air we breathed growing up on the South Side and attending good old BHS. I will say one thing- I do think people are designed as morning or night people. For myself I have always been a night owl. I simply cannot be cheerful or fully functioning if forced to get up prior to 6am on a daily basis; regardless if I get 8 hours of sleep or not. P.S. don’t stress about taking a break from a respectable job. I think you are on a journey that will lead you to a place of greater satisfaction and happiness with whatever “job” you decide to take on down the road.

    1. Thanks Carol, for stopping by and commenting on my post. You’re right to mention that sleep doesn’t come easy when you’re stressed and under pressure, which I’m sure you were being in Finance for nearly 10 years. Working in managed care for nearly 4 years was no walk in the park, and the job exacerbated a lot of nagging problems I came to NYC with from St Louis, including the insomnia. But thankfully a lot has changed over the past year and a half, and I’m coming to grips with the fact that I have a great future ahead of me and that I have the right to pursue whatever it is that makes me happy and provides me with some measure of fulfillment.

  4. Mark Dyson says:

    Sometimes sleep comes from inner peace and not a functional pattern in our lives. Sometimes its what we are not doing that initiates the war inside. Philosophical? Maybe. A little red wine will help every night but ultimately, find peace.

    1. Mark, I was trying to come up with a response to your post, but I have nothing. Peace, red wine, and a little Plato will put me to sleep everytime. Zzzzzzzz…..

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