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Confessions of an Insomniac

It’s 2:15 a.m. and I’ve just crawled out of bed after trying to go to sleep for the past two hours. No use lying there any more with my eyelids stuck open staring into the dark. So, as my mind is apt to do when I’m awake in the wee hours, it began thinking. After that it’s all downhill.

I don’t know about you, but when I have insomnia there are certain things I get up and do. Years ago, when I could eat honey, I’d brew a very honey-sweetened cup, or two or three or four, of chamomile tea to put me to sleep. Chamomile is renowned for its ability to make one sleepy. However, if you drink as many cups as I did, you won’t stay asleep because you’ll be making a bathroom run the rest of the night. And the sugar gives you a high. Really bad for sleeping.

Even if I’d given the chamomile a fighting chance, sans sugar and multiple cups, I don’t really know if the sleepy time tea would have worked, because while I drank my kidneys into oblivion, I’d stimulate my mind by drawing house plans on sheets of graph paper. I have a file drawer full of them which, if I ever get filthy rich, I will choose from and build my dream house—or perhaps I should say insomnia house—to end all insomnia houses. One day while perusing the composition books in Staples, I discovered graph paper composition books, and I have now filled several of those with house plans, too. Nowadays, I drink water instead of honeyed tea, but I haven’t found a cure for those house plans.

Another thing I do is write poetry in the wee hours of the night. You might think counting off rhythmic syllables and the sing-song, lyrical sound of rhymes would have a soothing effect, much like counting sheep. Don’t believe it for a second. Poetry is a stimulant. On a good insomniac night, when I’m up until dawn, I could pen a chapbook!

Solitaire is another late night cure for insomnia. I learned this from my mother. As a kid, I used to come down at night and find her sitting at the silver and red, chrome-trimmed kitchen table, with a cup of coffee on the right hand side of her solitaire deck and a full percolator on the counter. Not decaf coffee, either. I’m not even sure they had decaf back then. But I digress. Before the computer age, I used to play solitaire with my Elvis deck. Too bad mom didn’t tell me that a few dozen hunky, sexy Elvises laying on the table was enough to keep the Sandman  awake for a century.  Now I play solitaire on the computer. Plenty of harmful computer light rays to perk a body up, but no Elvis. Priscilla hasn’t released his image to Microsoft yet. Bet she’d make a bundle from us Elvis fans if she did, but I digress again. Another side effect of insomnia.

I have on occasion actually cleaned my office on insomniac nights. Talk about stimulating! Culling through all those old papers and magazines. Finding more ideas for stories and poems. Working up a sweat and stirring up paper dust until you’re coughing so hard you wake up the rest of the household. The hubby doesn’t appreciate it when I clean on insomniac nights. Can’t say I blame him. I’d be upset if I woke me up, too. But then, I’m already awake. Insomnia, remember?

When hubby and I were writing musical plays I’d often find tunes running through my head at the oddest times, like 2 a.m. on a work night. As quiet as a mouse (at least I thought I was quiet), I would rummage in my bedside drawer for the tape recorder I kept there for midnight notes. All writers have one next to the bed, right? I’d sneak into the master bathroom and quietly sing the tune and lyrics that had been torturing me for the last, oh, 3 hours or so. Then I’d snap off the recorder, climb back in bed, and fall fast asleep.

That came to a screeching halt the morning hubby awakened me before he went to work and politely said, “Were you singing in the bathroom last night?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I had a tune for the musical running through my head and I didn’t want to lose it.”

“Don’t do it again,” he commanded. “You woke me up and I haven’t been able to go to sleep since you came back to bed four hours ago.”

It’s 3:22 a.m. now. I’ve been writing for an hour, which is the other thing I do when I can’t sleep. Another task that’s not much of a snore maker. On top of that, my tummy is growling, which means it’s time for that 3 a.m. snack. Chocolate is my go to midnight snack. Another stimulant.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to be a sleepwalker instead of an insomniac. At least I wouldn’t know I was losing sleep. On the other hand, I wouldn’t remember what I do in the wee hours of the morning, and I wouldn’t have fuel for an insane blog.

Have you ever suffered from insomnia? What do you do while you’re waiting for the Sandman to visit?