sleepless-nightsBefore I decided to take the bull by the horns and actually do something about my insomnia, I was convinced there was little TO do. I believed my fate was sealed from birth: on top of being short and stubborn, I was destined to be on shaky terms with the night. I could curse the gods, or I could settle down and make the best of it.

At the same time, the dreamer in me hoped that insomnia was something I would outgrow, like acne or my crush on Paul McCartney. By process of osmosis, I would absorb enough wisdom to slough off my sleep problem and one day be able to drop off with ease.

My Sleep Pattern

For years my insomnia was episodic, occurring in periods of stress and excitement, so there were times when this dream seemed close to attainment. For as many bouts of sleeplessness as I had (three or four a month? two dozen a year?), I also experienced periods of smooth sailing. I would find myself dropping off the minute my head touched the pillow and notice I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a sleeping pill. Then this thought would occur: I have achieved it! The luxury of steady work followed by sound sleep at night. Finally my body is working as nature intended.

Disturbing Questions

In this new state of enlightenment, I could look back at my former self and wonder: why had sleep once been so undependable? And why had fear of sleeplessness taken hold of me at the sight of the afternoon fading into twilight or the sound of evening birdsong? What malicious force had the power to turn things of such beauty into things of dread?

But surely it was better not to probe too deeply. A sleeper doesn’t need to trouble herself with why the restless lie awake.

At some point, though, the jig was always up. The next day or the next week, some blip or wrinkle would interrupt my day, news of misfortune fallen on a family member, or signs of a clash brewing at work, and I was off and crawling through another slew of sleepless nights.

Posted by Lois Maharg, The Savvy Insomniac

Lois Maharg has worked with language for many years. She taught ESL, coauthored two textbooks, and then became a reporter, writing about health, education, government, Latino affairs, and food. Her lifelong struggle with insomnia and interest in investigative reporting motivated her to write a book, The Savvy Insomniac: A Personal Journey through Science to Better Sleep. She now freelances as an editor and copy writer at On the Mark Editing.

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