Exit 214. Insomnia is infuriating.

Nothing seems unusual for the first hour.  For all my life, it has never been unheard of for me to take a while to fall asleep.  But if I am still awake after an hour, a feeling of dread starts to settle in.  Usually by then, a feeling of having to go to the bathroom has settled in as well, so I get up and deal with that.  I go back to bed and try to relax.

The end of the second hour is when I really start to feel doomed.  I can often tell by then that I’m just not going to be falling asleep.  Usually by then I have to go to the bathroom again, and I’m desperate to get rid of as many distractions as possible that might keep me awake all night, so I get up again and go to the bathroom.  It is at this point that I try doing something else for a bit to get my mind off of whatever is keeping me awake.  If I work the next day, I’ll make my lunch now; that’ll give me an extra few minutes in the morning just in case I do happen to fall asleep.  Sometimes I’ll read for a while.  Eventually I’ll try going back to bed.  I’ll set my alarm for about 45 minutes later than the time it usually goes off, so that I will wake up with the absolute bare minimum amount of time to get ready and dressed in the morning and not be too terribly late to work.  Every minute of potential sleep counts.

If I don’t fall asleep at this point, I start questioning why I am being punished with this inability to sleep.  Am I just subconsciously, or consciously, worrying about something?  Was it because of something I ate?  Did I just eat too much too late at night?  Did I drink too many caffeinated beverages?  Was I looking at too many screens too late at night?  I start to get angry and frustrated over the lack of consistency.  I remember other nights when I did whatever it might have been that is keeping me awake, but had no trouble falling asleep.  Why do there seem to be absolutely no rules here?  Insomnia is infuriating.

Sometimes, between the third and fourth hour, I get desperate.  I start lamenting whatever it is that is wrong with me that causes me to experience this hell.  If I have any in the medicine cabinet, I’ll take some medication for colds or allergies that causes drowsiness, even though I don’t have a cold and am not bothered by allergies.  That also gets me to the bathroom to take another bathroom break.  And this is when I start to notice the headache setting in.  A sense of dread begins to overwhelm me as I realize that I’m going to have to go to work tomorrow with this headache.   I contemplate taking a sick day, but then I realize that no one else can do my job, not being there just gets everyone behind, and preparing not to be there is often quite a bit of work in and of itself.  Most of the time, I just decide to ride it out and go to work anyway, and try to survive until lunch when I might get in a 20-minute nap with my head down on the desk.

Eventually, after a few more hours of helplessly tossing and turning, I realize that my alarm would have gone off by now had I not changed it earlier in the night.  I give up and get dressed and go about my day, simply hoping to survive until I get home, and hoping that it will be a long time before I experience this misery again.  Unfortunately, the nights of insomnia have become more frequent lately.  Every time, when I finally get to sleep after being awake for 30-40 hours in a row, I hope that these days are behind me.  We’ll see.

Exit 31. One of the most torturous experiences.

This is officially the most sleepless night I’ve ever had.

I have been awake right now for between 20 and 21 hours.  That isn’t unusual.  But what is unusual about all this is that I work tomorrow.  My alarm for work is going to go off in less than an hour, and I don’t feel myself getting any more tired.  Usually when I have nights like this, I toss and turn for a few hours, but I end up still getting around three hours of good sleep.  Not tonight.  I went to bed a little late, but still early enough to get a solid five hours of sleep.  After that, I proceeded to toss and turn for three and a half hours, then I gave up on trying to sleep and eventually, after going to the bathroom and fiddling with the laptop, which isn’t connecting to the wifi for some reason, started writing this.  It was a rather arbitrary decision to choose 90 minutes before the time my alarm was set for as the cutoff for when to give up, mostly because of one particularly memorable sleepless night a few years ago in which I got approximately 90 minutes of sleep.  But even before then, with about two hours left to go before the alarm would go off, I knew I wasn’t going to be getting any sleep, because I could feel myself getting more awake, my mind feeling more anxious and restless.

To me, being unable to sleep feels like one of the most torturous experiences.  I feel so helpless.  There is nothing I can do about it.  I can’t command my body to be more tired.  All I can do is ride it out, lie there in bed as I toss and turn trying in vain to get comfortable, while my mind races with thoughts of the day that just happened and the same two songs run through my head, playing over and over again but never finishing, yet switching abruptly from one song to the other.  In case you were curious, this time it was Voices Carry by Til Tuesday, and The Longest Time by Billy Joel.  And in between all of that, I am haunted by thoughts of the decisions I made during the day that might have somehow caused me to be unable to fall asleep.  Tonight, the issues in question are how I’ve been eating like crap for the last several days, and that I had a rather large quantity of Dr Pepper about 10 hours ago.  Caffeine seems to have an unpredictable effect on my body.  When I drink Dr Pepper or Coca-Cola with the hope that the caffeine will keep me awake, it doesn’t, but it has been known to keep me awake on nights when I don’t want to stay awake.  Go figure.

Right now, in general, it feels like my life has been spiraling out of control, and this goes back a lot farther than having had Dr Pepper earlier, or last night, or whatever you call it in this situation.  My house still needs cleaning after having hosted a friend’s birthday party Saturday night.  I had a really fun weekend and time off, but I haven’t had enough me time lately.  I’ve been spending very little time reading the Bible and in prayer, and this has been a general trend for several months now.  I haven’t been eating well, as I pointed out earlier.  I really need to take time to get those things under control.  And with a busy week ahead, and a conference I’m going to this coming weekend, all weekend, the only way I’m going to get any of that time is to remove all distractions and everything unnecessary from my schedule this week.  But I’m going to have to do all that while getting all my work done this week, and I won’t get home from work until 3:30pm at the earliest, at which time I will have been awake for over 31 hours.  (This will approximately tie my personal record for hours without sleep, set on the day of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.)

But I have no choice but to go through with it.  I’m going to feel awful today.  But sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.  Hopefully this will motivate me to eat better and not waste so much time.