Why, Oh Why, Can’t I…Sleep?

I lie perfectly still in shavasana pose with tears pooling under my eye mask. That odd duck, Jenny, was leading our group of three in her version of restorative yoga. Her version includes a guitar, or ukulele as it was today, and singing. I do think Jenny sings like an angel and she had sung “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as beautifully as I have ever heard. I began to cry as the lyrics floated over me wondering if this was a song about sleep or even death. Either way, I thought, that is what I want.

If happy little bluebirds fly above the rainbow, why, oh why, can’t I?

As early as age 8 or 9, I remember telling my mom that I couldn’t control my brain. At 54, I still know what that little girl was trying to convey and I still don’t have the words. My brain is Hal—the computer-cum-monster from the sci-fi movie. Hal takes over at night flooding my brain with activity, keeping me wide awake. Always. Wide awake.

When I was 19 or 20 and living on an air force base in Turkey, I took too many sleeping pills. The medical record will say that I tried to commit suicide. The truth is I hadn’t slept in about a month and I was simply exhausted. As a consequence, the Air Force required me to see a psychiatrist who tried bio feedback on me in an effort to help me sleep. During our sessions he would hook me up to galvanic skin response nodes and tell me to picture myself on a beach, hearing the ocean waves crashing in. My mind would trail off. I found myself pondering universal truths like: Where is my dog’s belly button anyway? After only a few sessions he dismissed me from his care proclaiming that I was “the reason polygraph tests are inadmissible in court”. Apparently my brain had responded in exactly the opposite manner as was expected.

In the 35 years since, I never regained a healthy sleep pattern. Some nights I get 4 or 5 hours of broken sleep and those are the good nights. Many nights I don’t sleep at all. This happens every day and every night. Today is the same as yesterday and all the yesterdays that came before. All my tomorrows are the same. I live in a constant state of jet lag.

I’ve very recently gone to see a naturopath/endocrinologist. He has me taking farcical quantities of hormones and supplements. Every morning he sends me texts with thumbs up and happy face emojis telling me what I should ingest that day. I want to believe this will work. It has to work.

Jenny asks us to sit crossed legged and bring praying hands to our chest. I bow and say “Namaste”. Jenny returns the bow and the greeting which literally means, “I bow to the divine in you”. I dream of a day when I sense the divine within myself.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

43 Comments

    1. I know. I’ve tried that, too, to no avail. My new doc says my fast metabolism is making my hormones too low. Makes sense because I have a hard time being anesthetized. Thanks for the like and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh no, not being able to get a proper night’s sleep is brutal. I know that it’s tough enough when I have a few nights in a row like that. I hope this new treatment works for you. Does anyone suggest trying meditation?? Best wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jane. Yes, I’ve done meditation through psychotherapy and I do yoga for the meditative benefits. I’ve actually slept a few nights in a row with my new protocol so maybe my new young doctor has stumbled upon something. I am hopeful…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If you have the chance, listen to ‘IZ’, a Hawaiian singer, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Facing Future album. Song’s 14 & 15 are beautiful.
    It won’t help you sleep, but it is Great Music, very relaxing Hawaiian touch to some great songs like, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ song 14, & Take Me Home Country Road, song 5, on Facing Future album.
    Sleeping? Forget the Dr’s, they are nuts anyway.
    Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have that version of Rainbow on my playlist! I will have to look into the others. I know. I feel the same about doctors but desperate times call for desperate measures. Here’s hoping. Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Have you tried reflexology or accupuncture? Two methods that will power induce the brain to sleep and yet harmless and non-addictive. If you opt for reflexology, go to the Chinese Style instead of softer English version. Your feet will hurt initially very much but you will soon fall asleep. As for accupuncture, go to the ones with the certificate for hygine reasons. This is my last resort when I need to sleep. The needles will intercept your nerve reactions and force the brain to relax and sleep. In your case the accupuncturist may release a mild electricity through needles and it will feel like a heaven. But you will soon fall asleep to enjoy it longer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The new doctor said wine is the worst. I’ve had to give up alcohol (sad) and dairy (gut punch). I have tried the breathing exercises. It is akin to my biofeedback experience, I react quite the opposite of how I should. Thanks, Fatima. So good to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My heartfelt wishes that your new regimen works. If it doesn’t, eh, don’t look to me for advice. Oh I would love to be able to help but I haven’t figured out how to gett myself through a full night’s sleep (or even a good chunk of one) so all the potions, lotions, and songs that I’ve tried are clearly duds in their own rights.
    Oh a whole different hand it was a joy to see your post in my email this morning. Even if it couldn’t have been a happier topic I was happy to see you writing.
    Again good luck, best wishes, seasons greetings, welcome back, and have a great weekend! If I’ve missed anything just jot it dowm and sign my name to it. (And don’t forget the exclamation point!)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So sorry to hear of your sleep deprivation. I get periods like that but few of them, now post menopausal and even less as I’ve gotten older. My former mother in law (an ex Witness) has had the same problem with sleep. I wonder if there’s a tie in to that?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! That would be an interesting study! I think mine is related to whatever it is in my body that makes it difficult to anesthetize me. My dentist can’t numb me and I’ve woken up during a colonoscopy. Someone should study me!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was thinking about you last night before I went to sleep and how I used to have this bedtime routine for my son: a mug of hot chocolate, followed by a warm bath and then I read a book to him. To this day, I cannot sleep unless I read for a bit, usually an hour. Not sure if you have tried that. Let us know how you get on. Good luck. 👍❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It warms my heart that you thought of me. I have been reading on an iPad, sometimes all night when I don’t sleep. But the new doctor said no blue light so I am reading on my phone now with red light instead of blue. I have actually had a full week of sleep (with no sedatives but copious amounts of hormones). This is unprecedented in my adult life so my new doctor has tapped in to something good. I can’t say thanks enough to you for checking in. BTW, I can’t get your new blog to load. Can you send me a link?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am happy to know that you’ve had a whole week or good sleep and I really hope you have found a solution to this worrying problem; it certainly is no joke. I hate it when I can’t sleep when I am worried about something, but luckily most nights I sleep well. I can’t imagine how awful it must be (and dangrous) not to sleep for days on end.
        I hope this link to my blog helps. We are 5 months into our year break on the road in Europe:
        https://sayselltravels.wordpress.com

        Liked by 1 person

    1. My problem is most definitely physiological. My body stopped producing hormones well before menopause and I metabolize too quickly (I have a difficult time being anesthetized or numbed and am not affected by pain meds) so normal HRT doesn’t work for me. My new doctor seems to be on to something though. He’s got me sleeping since my post. Lettuce sandwiches, you say?

      Like

  7. I thought I had sleep problems until I read your post today. I am so very sorry this has been a lifelong struggle for you. I hope your new “8th grade” doctor or someone will be able to help you get some rest.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Janet. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I have never met anyone who sleeps as little as I do. My new doc has worked some voodoo on me and things are looking up. Again, thank you.

      Like

  8. I feel you, girl. This month, 12 years ago, my insomnia began. I have received hordes of well-meaning suggestions, but people who have not survived on zero hours of sleep for days or 2-3 hrs of sleep for a week (as I did over summer) have no idea what it’s like. It makes you crazy. It steals your blessings. Doctors tell you that you will recoup it, but you know the truth. Recouping doesn’t happen. So take heart that you’re not alone, and there are others of us who have gone to work and to church on no sleep (so it’s still the same day) and plowed through. You won’t die but it sure feels like it.

    I’ve done acupuncture, massage, sleep hygiene, “tapping,” supplements, hypnosis, read every book in Barnes & Noble on insomnia, physical therapy, tried every pill from Ambien to Restoril to Seroquel, not to mention the beginner suggestions of warm milk, wine, or meditation. What has helped me most is to not give it power. For every article or talk show telling you how awful it is to get less than 8 hrs of sleep, it starts the cycle up again. So ignore that. You’re still alive after all this time. Some people get 8 hrs, some of us get two. I’m sorry you’ve suffered this long. If you’re like me, you feel like a zombie half the time, trying hard to enjoy the blessings you’ve been given. It’s not fair, and you don’t deserve it. Big hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my gosh. You have no idea how much your comment means to me. I have gone days without sleep, in a cycle that has lasted decades. This is insomnia. I have done all the same things (except tapping) that you mentioned to no avail. So tired of the Lunesta hangover. So thank you for your empathy. Just. Thanks.

      Like

      1. All, yes, Lunesta. I tried that in 2006 because I was going to be married soon and wanted to feel sane and remember telling my soon-to-be husband that it had an after taste like what I imagine dirty slot machine quarters taste like. Sorry about the hangover!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Wonderful that it is working. I trust a goodhealth food store for such rather than any prescription. Also Alison, a good herbal bath hours before bedtime helps the muscles to relax.. And you can fall fast asleep while tuned into a classical music station. Cheers to your health!!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve had trouble falling asleep since I-don’t-remember-when. I finally decided to stop the useless worrying about it and just let nature take its course. It still takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to fall asleep, but that’s a lot less than previously, and though I only sleep soundly for 4 or 5 hours, it seems to be enough….if I stay in bed for another 2 or 3 hours of on-and-off sleep (plus dozing off while reading or watching TV for short periods once or twice a night).

    I realize this isn’t a magic or universal solution, but I mention it because it works for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. It takes me at least an hour to fall asleep and more generally it takes me closer to 3-4. I don’t know why I don’t fall asleep naturally. I’ve never fallen asleep reading and seldom while watching TV. I don’t consider myself a worrier nor do I feel anxious. But again, thank you for taking time to comment. It is miserable to live life in sleep deprivation.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m almost 63 and have spent about $30,000 at various medical centers (Boston, Houston, UCLA) trying to find why I can’t sleep like “normal” people. As early as the age of 6 that I can remember, I used to wake up after a couple of hours of sleep and do things, usually read. I still never sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. However, in my early business career, I learned to use it to my advantage. My bosses knew that even though it was 15 minutes before quitting time, if it needed to be done by 8:00 the next morning, Russel could, and would, do it. Give me a 30 minute nap and I can give you 4 hours of work. 24/7. In perpetuity.

    Finally, in 2014, I enrolled in a sleep study. The sleep specialist overseeing me told me that I was a natural “polyphasic sleeper.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “Prior to 1995 we would call you a ‘catnapper.’ ”

    Everyone always called me a catnapper but now they have a medical term for it. So I’m proud to be a polyphasic sleeper which I think is better than catnapper because my cat sleeps days on end…………LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s fascinating! I understand there are more than a 100 named sleep disorders. I haven’t done a sleep study yet though it’s been recommended. I do know what you mean about using short sleep to your advantage. I’ve never been jet lagged and I am up early (before the sun) every day so going to work was never a problem. Unlike you though, I could never nap. Not even in kindergarten. Thanks for the comments. I might need to try the sleep study one day. We live only 20 minutes from Mayo and there’s is supposed to be a good one.

      Like

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