Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Internal Dialogue of the Insomniac, or, Why I Don't Sleep

I have had insomnia all my life.  It comes and goes in waves - sometimes I sleep ok, sometimes I go days on end without sleeping more than a few hours.  Sometimes, when I get up in the morning exhausted, there's an obvious reason.

One of the kids was sick and I spent the night alternately cleaning up puke and trying to sleep with a child in my bed who never stops moving.

One of the kids had a nightmare and climbed into bed with me and wouldn't stop moving.

One of the kids has a horrible cough that, even though they somehow seem to actually sleep through it, keeps me awake all night.

One of the get it.

But most of the time, there is no obvious reason why I didn't get any sleep last night, and it will send me into convulsions of annoyance if I am asked why I didn't get any sleep.  So, in the interest of explaining - without really explaining, since it doesn't truly make sense in the end - I've given an example of the sequence of mental events that results in one very tired and one very cranky mom at 6 am.  This will be presented in the form of a dialogue between two voices in my head.  For the record, there aren't really voices in my head.  Well, not much.

Voice 1: Ok, lights out!  So tired, time for sleep!
Voice 2: Did you make the lunches, set the coffee maker, gather the library books, and turn off the oven?
Voice 1: Yes.
Voice 2: Are you sure?
Voice 1: Yes.
Voice 2: ARE YOU SURE?
Voice 1: no.  (get up and check)

Voice 1: Ah, all taken care of, now to sleep!
Voice 2: Hey, remember that incident from two years ago that you were really upset about and spent a long time trying to get over?  Remember that?  Let's think about that and go over everything that happened in minute detail.
Voice 1: This is pointless, let's stop thinking about it and go to sleep.
Voice 2: You know what awesome thing you could have said that would have made you feel so much better about the whole situation?  (several really awesome comebacks)
Voice 1: Sigh.

Voice 1: Ok, ok, I've been in bed for over an hour, I really need to get some sleep.
Voice 2: OR - let's think about extremely improbable ways in which the kids could get maimed or killed, creating such awful images that there's no way you can fall asleep until they are cleared from recent memory.
Voice 1: What can I think about to get those images out of my head?
Voice 2: I have some ideas!

Voice 1: Why is the bed suddenly so uncomfortable?
Voice 2: Try lying on your left.
Voice 2: Ok try your right.
Voice 2: Try your back.
Voice 1: Ok, now I'm kind of comfortable (foot starts itching unbearably)  Well, now it's not comfortable anymore.
Voice 2: Try lying on your stomach.

Voice 1: If I fall asleep now I can still get 4 hours of sleep.
Voice 2: Ok, ok.

Voice 2: Did you hear that?
Voice 1: Hear what?
Voice 2: That weird noise!
Voice 1: It was the dog.
Voice 2: Maybe.  Or maybe there is a vicious intruder in the house about to come up the stairs and murder everyone.  (stare at open doorway for a while, alternately dozing off and waking up to stare again just in case)

Voice 2: Are you asleep???
Voice 1: Well I was close.
Voice 2: I just wanted to share my concerns regarding that conversation you had with *random person* yesterday.  It's very possible you said something stupid.
Voice 1: Oh god, you're right.  I should go over that whole conversation for the fifth time to be sure.

Voice 1: If I fall asleep now, I can still get 3 hours of sleep.
Voice 2: Tomorrow is going to suck.
Voice 1: I'm wide awake.
Voice 2: Is that the dog snoring?

Voice 1: Mumbles incoherently.
Voice 2: I bet someone is going to ask why you didn't sleep last night.