Sleep, Interrupted

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I have been complaining about sleep issues for the last few months. This is probably boring to many of you, but I know that others are experiencing similar issues. There is something about middle age, about stress, about hormones, about irregular work schedules, about sunrise or noises in the night or too much caffeine or the placement of street lights in relation to bedroom windows that cause anything from mild irritation to major disruption in sleep patterns. Some of you know this first hand.

Regular readers also know that I have more than one of those factors going for me (and actually I have other factors in the picture as well) and so in some ways I am hardly surprised that I am having sleep issues. But I am deeply resentful, particularly while I am lying awake during the night. And I am particularly aware of the attendant/consequential issues as well. Morning sluggishness leads to extra caffeine consumption (that leads to sleeplessness later) and lowers the possibility that I will get exercise or accomplish much during the day. Catching up via nap, which I am trying to learn to do, is so far only successful in the early morning, meaning I miss the coolest time of day to be outdoors, getting in a walk or doing a little gardening. The repercussions of a bad night last all day, and a string of these nights/days brings on even more anxiety.

All the physical stuff aside, I think the worst thing about insomnia is that it leads to excessive negative thinking that is unhitched from reality (i.e, the light of day). It is just so easy to get all worked up, to go way too far in worrying or obsessing even about things that are not quite as monumental as they seem at 4 a.m. It is easy to imagine the worst about oneself, about the future, about the past while lying in the dark with no one to refute, redirect, reflect or generally process (or re-process) with you. No one to remind you that there are other things going on besides (or instead of) your own foibles and failings. No one to remind you of the bright side or to reassure you that all will be well and that you are loved and not a failure.

Some folks I know use insomnia for prayer time. I'm afraid my prayer tends to be, "God, put me to sleep, right now! I've got to get some sleep!" My contemplative friends suggest the rosary. Others suggest taking melatonin. I did get new curtains, but there are still two other windows that let in light across the room. I probably should redo those curtains, too.

I wish all my insomniac friends more sleep soon, as fall arrives and cooler nights come round again and the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Know that you are not alone.


Kathy Kelly said…
Thanks for this Penny. Is that a "negative" sign in front of the time in the picture?! I appreciate your candid honesty in your blog and how much I relate to most postings. I very much relate to this one and. . . . oops I fell asleep while writing and can't remember what I was going to say. Off to take a nap. K2
Toni McLean said…
Dear Penelope,
Nothing to do with your blog. I'm assuming that you're a Jane Austin fan, as you have quoted from Emma. I'm wondering if you think Emma was an ENFP? I think she might have been. Jane Austin is my favourite author.
But, just thought, have you tried mindfulness meditation before sleep? Works wonders for me and for my clients. The only problem is that sometimes they feel embarrassed to tell me they fell asleep before the guided meditation recording finishes. I don't recommend it for insomnia, but for the side effects of stress, trauma, etc, it just happens to be one of its beneficial side effects.

Best wishes
Thanks Kathy - I'm always glad to get feedback.

Toni, I don't think Emma could be a P. She wants to arrange things too much. She would be a J in my estimation.

Meditation sometimes works for me, as can a warm bath, a glass of wine, or a book. Thanks for the suggestion!