Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"To sleep, perchance to dream..."

I have never been a good sleeper. My mother said I was a terrible baby who cried a lot and never slept. As a child I would be sent to bed at eight o'clock and lay awake for hours, hearing the television or my parents talking in the other room, then they would go off to bed and the house would be quiet and I would toss and turn and watch the moon out the window. At the other end, waking up was torture. I could sleep until noon given the chance.

I still find it so difficult to get to sleep. I always read until I am nodding off, dropping my book, etc.  Even then, once the lights go off I am often awake again, thrashing for an hour or more. Once asleep I never feel deeply asleep. I wake up periodically. I find 4:15 is an oddly common time to look at the clock. Sometimes I am too hot. Sometimes my mind is racing with ideas or worries, mostly irrational. Then I go to sleep and dream exhausting dreams. They usually involve travel or a big project where nothing is what I planned and luggage is lost or deadlines are looming and I have forgotten crucial details. Last night I was in charge of planning a wedding for a friend. Just as the ceremony was about to start I realized I had forgotten to decorate for the reception or order a cake. I spent frantic, frustrating hours, it seemed, running back and forth, baking and decorating a cake, losing my shoes, watching my car roll into a river and apologizing endlessly. At last I fought my way out of the dream and woke up with a headache and feeling in need of a nap. The start of daylight savings time last weekend seemed to double the impact of my sleep problems. I am so tired. So. Tired. I fall asleep in my chair or in front of the TV, but not in bed. Last night I took melatonin. It had no effect. Tonight I took a Benadryl, which I am beginning to feel. I hate to take pills, but I feel desperate.

The piece above is small quilt I made several years ago for the Journal Quilt project. Ray was working in Colorado. When I would go to Colorado I would sleep.  I would imagine the snow outside softly, quietly piling up around me as I fell into deep, satisfying sleep. I would sleep during the day and then fall into bed every night. It was crazy. All I wanted to do was sleep. I am a high altitude sleeper living near sea level. That's a theory...

So, here it is bedtime again. Off I go. Wish me luck.

10 comments:

  1. Terry, I know what you mean. I have been the same way since birth. Add working swing shift for eons didn't help. I envy the people like my husband who fall asleep as soon as the head hits the pillow. He tells me that I could give Steven King a run for his money if I wrote out my nightmares. I've given up and take a benadryl at night. It helps, but I do wish I could just sleep. Wishing you a night of teddy bear dreams and waking refreshed in the morning.

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  2. It doesn't help me to know that someone else shares a problem, but I could be either (or both) of you. in desperation I will sometimes take a Benadryl, but then I have a "hangover" the next day. I'm going to try some of Dr. Oz's solutions at
    http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/dr-ozs-sleep-action-plan-pt-1 (and parts 2 & 3)
    Maybe the oatmeal business will work - can't hurt to try! Good luck.

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  3. I do wish you luck and sweet dreams. I am blessed to be a good sleeper, but my husband is more like you. He has many terrible nights and bad dreams. His doctor referred him to a sleep clinic and it seems to be helping. The only other suggestion I can think of is to have Ray build you a high altitude tree house bedroom in your forest. I'm amazed you are so productive with so little rest. The piece you shared today is lovely.

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  4. Sherrill7:43 AM

    I read somewhere that instead of counting sheep, you recount your day, with details, starting from night going to morning. Your brain is keeping track of things anyway, maybe this will be more productive.

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  5. A few winters ago I tried a 'happy light'/SAD light to help with the darkness of winter here in Wisconsin. I'm not sure what it did for my mood, but it completely regulated my sleep! I, too, had always had trouble sleeping. Now when I fall into an insomnia pattern I bring out the light. It really helps. Apparently these lights are also used for sleep regulation. Who knew?

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  6. I am just like you and have always been an insomniac even as a child. Oh how I envy those who can blissfully fall asleep whenever they please like my husband. Strangely I have no problem sleeping in hotel rooms and always get a wonderful nights sleep whenever we stay in a hotel - it has to be a nice hotel mind you with climate control, black-out curtains and sound proofing!

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  7. I also don't sleep well. I'm a night owl so don't go to bed until midnight or 1. Often, I'm awake by 3 and can't go back to sleep. I especially don't sleep when I'm sick with a respiratory thing. The last time I had a bad one I asked the doctor for something to make me sleep because you can't get better if you don't sleep. She promised that codeine would do the trick. It didn't.

    BTW, the Benadryl loses effectiveness over time. It works if you take it occasionally but if you take it regularly you get used to it.

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  8. I too am a terrible sleeper. I sleep better taking a nap in the afternoon than I sleep during the night. I go to bed around 1AM when I feel really tired but then in a couple of hours am up again and then at 5AM I am up again so I get on the computer and play some games and read my emails and then go back to sleep for another couple of hours. I end up getting lots of sleep but it is only at 3 hour intervals and it drives me crazy. I wonder if I will ever sleep 8 hours without waking up in between. I don't have problems going to sleep, I have problems staying asleep. My mind is always solving problems or working on a project.

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  9. I have no trouble falling asleep, but often wake at 3 or 4 if I'm subconsciously worrying about something. A white noise machine helps, a bit of meditation sometimes helps, but what I've found really does it is exercise. If I've kept up with my workouts, I sleep MUCH better.

    I recently read an article that said that the expectation of 8 hours of uninterrpted sleep is a relatively new idea - post-Industrial Revolution, and isn't how we are designed or how we slept for thousands of years prior to that. Check out 'segmented sleep' in Wikipedia.

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  10. Have you considered being checked out for sleep apnoea? I love my sleep and can't do without eight hours. Ironic that I'm a midwife and usually work a night shift every week! I saw this piece in the journal quilts book and loved it then, still love it now.

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