Chasing Time

Nighttime thoughts intrude my slumber.
I’d count sheep but it’s too high a number.
Insomnia plagues my weary head
So once again, I’m out of bed…

As the clock straddled midnight, I once again found myself unable to sleep. I had some physical pain and some emotional things that I was mentally processing, and no matter what I tried from my arsenal of tools, they all somehow failed to help me let go and let sleep take me over:

  • I went to make some warm milk but discovered that we’re all out.
  • I tried counting but gave up after 650 or so as I became aware of hearing my heartbeat in my ear. It’s a really unsettling sensation, I have to tell you.
  • I hummed (I find vibrations very calming), but it just made me cough.
  • I listened to some soft instrumental music, but I kept switching my position in the bed and kept tangling myself in my earphones.
  • I visualized a sandy beach with the gentle ocean waves splashing my toes, but then I had to pee.

I heard have heard that if you spend more than 30-45 minutes trying but failing to fall asleep, it’s better to get up and do something that will relax or bore you, leading to the inevitable and natural endgame of much-needed slumber.

Bodily pain is one thing. It’s often specific, follows a pattern of behavior, and reacts in a predictable way to treatments like Ice and Heat, massage or gentle manipulation, resting, or OTC and/or prescription medications. Emotional discomfort is a different beast entirely. While I do have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I am experiencing some extra stress that I suspect is the culprit keeping me awake.

The Longest Night

A month or two ago, I had insomnia. I tried everything possible, and was still awake at 5 a.m. Of course, just as the sun was rising and the cats’ bellies growling, I finally found a cloud to sleep on. Once you hit the 3 or 4 a.m. mark, you have to wonder if it’s better just to keep marching into the day. I recall many nights like that one when I was working. The kind of night when you watch the clock change a minute at a time, but if you do start to zonk, something brings you right out of it and only 10 minutes have passed. I was constantly chasing time.

I remember thinking, if I fall asleep NOW, I’ll get six hours of sleep. Then, if I fall asleep NOW, I’ll get five hours of sleep. It goes on and on until, once again, dawn hits and you’re nearing the time when you needed to get up to start your day.

Tick, tick, tick.

Here I sit after almost two hours (longer than I should have let myself fight my way to sleep), finding solace in the glow of my computer screen, my thoughts pouring out of my fingers almost too quickly. I really don’t want to greet the sun at 6:30 this morning.

I also turned on the television, looking for something that I could “fall asleep to,” checking the upcoming shows as well for the next 2 – 3 hours. I concluded my search through a thousand television channels, landing on “Family Guy”. There are four back-to-back (to back to back) episodes, which should get me through 2 a.m.

The qualifications for shows to make the cut:

  • A show or topic that I would watch while awake.
  • A show well into syndication that I don’t have to concentrate on because I’ve seen it many times and know what’s going to happen and if I fall asleep, won’t feel like I’ve missed anything.
  • Clip-type shows that don’t need me to think or pay real attention.
  • Made-for-TV movies about natural disasters, crazy stage moms or good girls gone bad. If it’s especially bad, I’ll record it to watch at another time, if I actually accomplish my goal of sleeping.

Some shows that make the cut:

  • “COPS,” “Jail,” or anything similar.
  • Animal shows like “Too Cute,” “The Dog Whisperer,” programs about breeds or animal jobs, animal conservation, etc. However, it breaks my heart to watch shows like “Animal Cops” that feature abused or neglected animals. Both of my cats are rescues, so I feel like I’ve paid my dues in that department.
  • “World’s Wildest …” shows that depict things like police chases, extreme sports fails, weather events, etc.
  • “Storm Stories” – usually on the Weather Channel, which features true stories about crazy storms and how they affect humans.
  • Cartoons like “Family Guy or “King of the Hill”
  • Comedies like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Seinfeld,” or “Friends.”
  • Every disaster movie, ever. These films are usually well-produced works of art, with stellar acting from at least one actor/actress who hasn’t done anything since 1986, brilliant dialogue, believable plot lines, and amazing special effects. I highly recommend flicks that focus on Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Meteors, and any abomination of the principles of Physics like an Earthquake that chases you instead of following an underground fault line. (Just realized I’m going to have to devote an entire blog post about this topic!).
  • Lifetime movies about a scorned woman, an unwed teenager, or a woman who must make the ultimate sacrifice to save her family (whatever that means!). They usually display the same level of art as the disaster movies, but there will be much more crying.

SO it’s now about 2 a.m., which means that I have to find a channel that has something I might be interested in over 2-3 hours.

Even if I don’t get a lot of restful sleep tonight, I am happy that I was able to take an unpleasant situation – insomnia – and change it into something creative and productive. Hmm, imagine that. A lesson learned in the dark of night.


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