Are You There Sleep? It’s Me, Sylvia

sleep (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

First of all, I want to assure all the Judy Blume fans out there (hey–I’m a fan, too), that I do know she came up with the famous line, “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret”. I’m just borrowing the overall feeling of it for my own diabolical purposes. Besides, I’m pretty sure that Judy must have come up with that great line one night when she was tossing and turning in her bed, just like me most nights.

I suffer from insomnia. It is early morning here on Canada’s east coast, almost 6:20 AM, a time when a lot of hard-working folk are crawling out of their beds, preparing to face another day of toil and trouble in the fields or the salt mines or the call centers. I’m in the same boat as them, except for two small differences: I don’t have anywhere in particular to go today, and I haven’t slept a wink since early yesterday morning.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to sleep; I try every night, but it eludes me. I catch a glimpse of it every once in a while, the same way I see my shadow sometimes or I look up at the sky after a downpour and spy the soft colors of a rainbow just disappearing from sight. That’s the relationship I have with sleep.

Painting Zombies 4
Painting Zombies 4 (Photo credit: Gaël Berthon)

I know that as people age they supposedly require less sleep than in their younger years, but NO sleep? Really? Somehow I don’t think that’s what nature intended for its aging population. Can you imagine large groups of old men and women walking around, zombie-like with arms outstretched and legs stiff, chanting ‘we want sleep, we want sleep’, through all their remaining days? Not a pretty picture–maybe a good movie plot, but not a pretty picture.

I’ve tried skipping a night of trying to sleep, thinking that when I did fall into bed the next night I would be snoring before my head squished the pillow, but that masterful plan didn’t work. Dawn was breaking again before I finally drifted off for a few hours of slumber.

I’ve tried relaxing my body parts one at a time, starting with my toes and working my way up to the top of my head; I’ve tried eating a piece of toast before bedtime, I’ve tried not eating anything before bedtime; I’ve tried counting sheep, counting stars, and counting all the ways ‘I love thee’.  I’ve tried melatonin, prescription sleeping pills, and Bailey’s Irish Cream; I’ve played solitaire on my iPad, read a book, listened to soft music. In short, I’ve tried many different ways to encourage sleep to visit me the way it should, but it refuses to ‘play nice’.

Now what? Now here it is, 7:00 AM and I’m still awake.

Any suggestions? Do you have a solution that works for you when you can’t sleep? I don’t want to become a zombie!

“I want sleep, I want sleep, I want sleep.” Not a pretty picture at all.



17 thoughts on “Are You There Sleep? It’s Me, Sylvia

  1. I also last about 40 minutes and then get up and do something ~ preferably something that will not stimulate my brain! I too have had periods of insomnia, you have my sympathy… it stinks!!

  2. I went through a spell of not being able to go to sleep back when I was teaching Kindergarten. I would become frantic thinking I would never make it through the next day with all those “little people” which, of course, made sleep even more elusive. Finally, at someone’s suggestion, I started listing in my head specific things for which I was grateful on that particular day and I had to get a minimum of five. Eventually, I started falling asleep before I got to five. My main problem was thinking too much about absolutely everything. The gratitude thing kind of centered me and put me in a better frame of mind. Since I’ve retired I still have nights where I don’t sleep for more than 4 or 5 hours, although I go to sleep alright. I just don’t stay asleep. Now, however, it doesn’t matter so much.

    Is tomorrow your birthday? If so, Happy Birthday.

  3. I didn’t really want to hit the like button; for this post you need something like a “It Stinks, don’t you agree button”. You have my sympathy, although that won’t do any good. Bruce

  4. I highly recommend that age old magical elixer, Dr. McGillicutty’s Magical Sleep Potion – you’ll be off to dreamland with visions of sugarplums (and all varieties of snack foods) in your head before you can say “cool, dude”.

  5. I understand your frustration, I too am an insomniac. One time while visiting my aunt we were talking about not being able to sleep and she told me that when she can’t sleep she pretends that she has won a shopping spree (she is a shopaholic). The shopping spree takes place at her favorite mall and the rules are as follows: you can only take one thing from each store and you have to be able to carry it all. She tells me that she has never made it past the 4th or 5th store before she is sound asleep. Now this suggestion didn’t work for me because I don’t like to shop, however I have modified it a little to suit me. I decorate a room. I lay in bed and pick out paint colours and fabrics, furniture and accessories. This doesn’t work every time but it does work often enough to make it a handy tool. The up side to this is that if it works I get some sleep, if it doesn’t I get great decorating ideas. See if you can come up with something that will work for you. You just never know.

  6. All I can say is that you’re not alone in this problem … plus try adding Restless Legs Syndrome to the issue … I’ve learned to just make good use of the time when I’m wide awake in the middle of the night – if I’m not asleep after being in bed for an hour, I get up and work on something until my eyes feel like closing – that’s usually the sign that I’ll be able to drift off to dreamland – but not always.

    I know that Winston Churchill apparently did very well on on 5 hours sleep per day – and he usually got that in naps … but I guess I don’t have his stamina – with only 5 hours I am like the zombies you spoke of …

    Here’s a hopeful thought – perhaps Mother Nature is saving up your sleep for a nice birthday gift tomorrow 😉

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