It is 1.48 am. My sleep has been a mess for months now. I started trying about 2 hours ago with a book and a hot chocolate. At midnight, I moved to my sofa. Now I am panicking and it feels like I can’t breathe. Before tomorrow has even started, we’ve got off on the wrong foot.

I am going to try and write it out tonight because I wonder if tipping my head onto paper might help. I am under no illusion as to the source of my insomnia: it’s the nonstop chattering in my head that’s keeping me awake, the circular thoughts that come when you’re too tired to do the things that normally keep them away. It is incessant.

It is also confusing. The tireder I get, the harder it is to decipher between the worries – and the thoughts – and the random stuff that’s weaving its way in between. And so, I find myself tangled up in half-finished sentences and ideas. Jumping frustratingly from one theme to the next, and just making the situation worse because there’s no resolution anywhere.

Sometimes I try going through the alphabet with different topics. A is for Austen; B is for Bronte; C is for Camus; D for Dickinson. Other times, I repeat the names of the people that are important in my life. When I am calmer, I let my imagination roam and find myself writing myself to sleep. More often, I resort to counting the calories that I have eaten that day. Counting seems to help, though the object is clearly unhelpful.

My GP has given me a list of 13 tips for sleeping. They don’t include anything that has succeeded in switching off my head although some hardcore sleeping drugs we tried for a while seemed to work. I’m not sure that hardcore sleeping drugs is the solution that I am looking for though, and they don’t really address the over-thinking, nor the intense loneliness that kicks in when darkness falls and the rest of the world goes to sleep. This is the other part that I find excruciating. I feel less alone in the daytime then I have for years; at night though, it’s just me again, and I am scared.

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3 Responses to “Insomnia”

  1. Evan says:

    A friend of mine has a similar problem to this with depression – the depression contributes to sleeplessness and the insomnia to the depression.

    For her it has been a combination of drawing, journalling, some good therapists and talking to friends lots. I guess you’ve tried all these things already.

    If you’re seeing a therapist I guess you have talked about what it is the overthinking is doing for you.

    I hope you find a way to deal with it – I’ve seen how debilitating it can be.

  2. GirlAnon says:

    Hi Melissa,

    After just one pretty rotten night’s sleep last night, I can’t imagine how it is long-term. I saw someone at work who came in with this problem, and he looked like the living dead. Awful.

    I did wonder if you’ve thought of leaving talk radio of some sort on low all night, for a bit of company. I feel lonely very quickly, and tend to turn on the TV or something whenever I’m in the house alone, and it seems to help to drown out the silence. At night, it can be louder so a little noise might take the edge off.

    Also, have you got any pets? I find myself so much more relaxed around animals and the distraction (and company) of a fuzzball might help!

  3. Kushika says:

    There seems to be some documentary on sleep that can be played back on BBC iplayer. I’ve not watched it myself, and I am unsure if it will be of any benefit to you but just thought it may be worth mentioning it.

    I used to have sleeping troubles (but not full blown insomnia) where I would wake up very early in the day (such as 3am) and not go back to sleep, so in a way I know how awful it is to be lacking in just a bit of sleep. Somehow my sleeping troubled managed to just pass. I have had troubles here and there now (to stay asleep), but what I found most beneficial was to cut out all caffeine (my body metabolises it very slowly, or so it seems) and also listening to relaxation exercises downloaded for free from iTunes.

    I hope you manage to get the rest that you deserve.