Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Not Sleeping


I dont sleep. Ever.

While technically that's not true, it's definitely how I've felt in the last few months.

Sleep was never a huge part of my life. I stayed up late as a child, but didn't seem to need the extra rest. As a teenager, I found that chatting on the phone and staying up to do all the school work I had to do won out over being well rested. College earned me some real sleep, but I was still usually an early riser. Throughout high school and college, my sleep was constantly delayed because late at night was often the only time we could find to chat during our long distance relationship.

Sleep problems started my senior year of college. The mixture of the boy and I breaking up, being in a terrible dysfunctional relationship, and having to deal with the impending doom of the real world lead to sleep anxiety.  I was having intimate relationships with Tylenol PM, Tylenol Simply Sleep, and NyQuil.  (Seriously, one week my roomie and I went through an entire bottle of NyQuil.  Not healthy or normal.)

When he and I split, the one thing I was looking forward to was the idea of getting a full night's rest.  He kept wonky hours and was frequently up until about 4am.  Combine his late hours with my light sleeping and anxiety about getting up for work, and it lead to a lot of sleepless nights and arguments.  The one thing I could relish was that I would finally get a whole night of uninterrupted sleep.  Even though I have always slept a little bit better with someone else in the room, I figured that consecutive hours of sleep would outweigh hearing someone next to me.

Such wishful thinking.

The first few nights of drugging myself helped, but I'm fairly certain that I didn't sleep during the entire month of August, save when I was listening to the Pacific Ocean crashing outside the window.

Sleep tends to allude me.  I get tired and want to sleep, but then as soon as I lay down, my mind starts racing.  I know all of the tricks.  Count backwards.  Count sheep.  Breathe in and out to counts of eight.  Say your prayers.  Turn the pillow.  Change sides of the bed.  Keep it cool.

I have taken every precaution.  I don't drink caffeine.  I don't keep a clock in my room.  I don't use electronics after 9pm.  I don't nap so I'll be tired in the evening.  I drink Trader Joe's well rested tea and Neuro Sleep.

Sometimes these things help me.  I get that wonderful drowsy feeling, and every now and again, I fall asleep.  But more often than not, I'm up far too late hoping and praying that sleep will come.

Sometimes I fall asleep, only to wake up absurdly early unable to keep sleeping, even when I'm tired.  (This actually leads to productivity--once I cleaned all the bathrooms in our apartment.)

The worst part of not sleeping is trying to explain sleeplessness to people who don't have it.  I stare enviously at people who fall asleep on the couch and can stay there.  I aspire to be the person who naps for a bit on a Saturday afternoon.  I want to sleep.  Sleep just doesn't want me.

People told me that that sleep would get better, that I was just adjusting to him moving out, that it would pass and everything would go back to normal.  It's been about six months, and I'm still in a position where sleep escapes me.  Sometimes, it seems to get better.  Other times, I feel like it is square one.

I'm hoping to just start exhausting myself so I pass out.  Another marathon, anyone?


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