From the Blog

Zombie Tired

I also go through phases where I can’t sleep at night. I fall asleep just fine. And I do everything I can to keep myself asleep through the night. I don’t drink coffee past noon. I try not to have sugar past 6. Before bed, I have myself a goodnight pee. I put in ear plugs so I can’t hear myself snoring breathing. I am usually chilly when I first snuggle into bed, yet I turn on a fan. Because I know that in the middle of the night, I will be blazing fricken hot. In the middle of the night, you could boil a kettle on my forehead.

Despite these efforts, I go through phases where I wake up in the wee hours. There is usually some trigger, like I have to pee again, I’m broiling hot, or the cat is using us as a trampoline. Which is fun. Who doesn’t like trampolines? The cat thinks he’s in Utah.

There are a wonderful few times when I hunker back down after a disturbance and sleep through the night. And I wake up feeling famous. But frequently, I’m awake enough to realize I’m awake, and then my brain starts the hamster wheels and I am in for a long, long night.

I have a number of techniques to attempt to fall back asleep. I would say none of them work. Because if they worked, I’d fall asleep and I wouldn’t remember them.

One of these techniques is to catalogue the various anxious thoughts for later processing. I have to do this even when I have no sane reason to be anxious. In the middle of the night, I fret over not going to the dentist for two years. Or not having a good wax job on my car. Or the stuff I need do to at work. Or needing to diversify my 401k. Because these are all things that need immediate attention in the middle of the night.

It’s like my brain just needs to be anxious. Like it doesn’t know what do to with itself. If I don’t logically have anything to worry about, my brain will come up with something. When I’m awake, I can put it in perspective and dismiss it. But at night, when I’m asleep, there is no distinction between rational things to be anxious about, and non-rational things to be anxious about. I am up in the middle of the night, worried about flossing my teeth more.

If I have enough consciousness over the mental cacophony, I try to remember to breathe. I concentrate on my breathing. I just think about breathing in, and breathing out. I try not to think about anything else. I think about air coming in, air going out. I concentrate on the wind in my lungs, sinuses, nostrils. If I have to, I visualize the word. “IN.” “OUT.”

Sounds pretty straight forward. But it’s fricken hard. It doesn’t take long for the anxious thoughts to creep back in and I forget, no, I’m supposed to be breathing. And I can’t keep it up if I’m feeling “lazy.” Lying in bed, trying to sleep, feeling “lazy.” Because I have to concentrate to focus on my breathing. And I have to unhook my respiratory system from auto pilot and breathe myself. And that’s all hard to do.

And last week, there were a few times when I was up in the middle of the night, and in addition to all the usual anxious mental tumbling, I had a song stuck in my head. I wish this particular trend on no one. Not even evil people who deserve it.

I was awake, and floating through my standard can’t sleep routine, and I get this…

You’re the right kind of sinner to release my inner fantasies
The invincible winner, and you know that you were born to be
You’re a heartbreaker, dreammaker, love-taker, don’t you mess around with me
You’re a heartbreaker, dreammaker, love-taker, don’t you mess around, no, no, no

Holy fricken crap people. Multiple nights of this. I’m not the believing type, but can someone fricken pray for me please?

In the meantime, I’m going to research medication. Probably of the booze variety.


  1. Trazadone. Seriously. .25 mgs. Call your doctor and ask for it.

  2. Yeah, I feel your pain. You could try melatonin if you wanted to go the natural route. I took some when traveling to combat jet lag and dude, it was the best sleep ever. A friend takes it nightly and says he gets his quick-dissolve fix at Trader Joe’s.

    Not to taint you with further issues or anything, but sometimes I also go through an itchy phase. As in, breathe in, breathe out, start to drift off, GODDAMMIT MY ARM ITCHES AND I HAVE TO SCRATCH IT NOW THUS JOLTING MYSELF AWAKE.

  3. Thanks, guys, Melatonin, Trazadone…will they cure the Pat Benatar?

  4. I think it’s funny that there’s a sit n sleep ad right next to where I’m typing. Whatever you do, DO NOT check out sit n sleep’s latest ad campaign…their scare tactics will give you another reason not to sleep.
    On the bright side, reading your blog makes me so content…we share so many of the same neuroses (!) – miss you Heather!

  5. When the hamsters starting running in my head I get up and read for about a half hour. I try to read something boring , magazine, book, two year old newspaper used for packing, anything. It seems to bore the hamsters (and me) enough to make them stop.

  6. Cut off all fluids besides sips of water at 8:30-9 if going to bed at 10. I HATE having to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, it doesn’t feel worth it yet it won’t go away. Think happy thoughts, and when the anxious melodies creep back in, nope! Only happy: puppies are cute, Christmas is coming happy thoughts.

  7. You know PLM, I’ve never gotten up to read. In all my years of crappy sleep, I never turn on a light, and I don’t get out of bed. I think I heard it disrupts your bio rhythms or some such. But really, it’s because of that “lazy” thing noted above. I don’t want to have to work to get back to sleep.

    Jen, I very nearly ended up in ABQ with you. When I got back from Hawaii, and I was planning to move to Portland, I called Kelly M to see if they needed any more finance people in ABQ. No openings. Otherwise, I would have been very temped. And it would have felt odd to go back to a company I quit. Even after the batshit crazy lady left.

  8. Fortunately I can’t relate on the sleeping issue. Must be a chick thing, based on the responses. The wife says I’m twitching and falling asleep within 30-60 seconds of my head hitting the pillow. It’s really nice.

    Oh, and I LOLed at the cat-trampoline thing. Good, wholesome, fun!

  9. Heather, my trick is to think about getting up. I pretend it’s time to get up, like, for work, because who WANTS to get up in the MORNING? It usually works and I start feeling sleepier and more relaxed. isn’t that crazy?

    Maybe if you don’t want to get up in the morning, you should pretend it’s 3:30 in the morning and you’ll suddenly feel like jumping out of bed!

  10. Jill, I do that too. Because invariably, I fall asleep within 15 minutes of the alarm. Awesome.

    Steve, your brother does the same thing. Except he twitches THE WHOLE NIGHT THROUGH. It’s like he’s playing soccer in bed. It’s great.

    I’m sure he loves it when I share on the internet.

  11. I sleep next to a twitcher! He can fall asleep and wake back up all within a minute, and I haven’t even closed my eyes yet. It’s bullshit.

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