The Insomnia War

I feel like I’m collateral in the insomnia war.  Oh, you’ve never heard of it?  Perhaps you’re too young to have lived through it.  😉

This a one-on-one war.  No armies, no coalitions, not even a small group of hardy terrorists.  Heck, insomnia is a terrorist all by itself. And I’ve often felt like I don’t have the right weapons or strategy (except for prayer) to win this war.


Take last week.  I had a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious six nights of rest-filled sleep.  My melatonin tablets kicked in (glory!), I felt sleepy early, and a few sprays of transdermal magnesium oil later, I was in la-la land and awoke refreshed and alert.  

Then the insomnia terrorist bum rushed me.  I get real tired on Sunday afternoon and decide on a nap, telling myself, “just an hour or so and I’ll be good to go.”  Boom!  I “nap” for five hours.  In my world, that’s a full-fledged sleep!  Then, I can’t fall back asleep until 5:00 a.m.

Back to insomnia reality.

Truth be told, this insomnia “situation” has been ambushing me for close to a dozen years.  After 9/11, things started going south, sleepwise.  Work and its attendant stresses didn’t help either.

At first, a doctor prescribed sleep aids, which worked for a while but I feared that they might be addictive long-term, so I switched to melatonin and valerian, with varying levels of success.  But over time, the cavernous gap between when I ought to be sleeping and when I did eventually sleep grew more destructive.

insomnia math skills

Earlier this year, after almost veering off the road while driving, feeling less productive at work due to sleep deprivation, and experiencing generalized loopiness, I pleaded with God to show me some thing, or combination of things, that would ease the sleep deficit.

Truth be told, I’m more of a sleep-onset insomniac.  Tablets that claim to put you out like a light in 10-15 minutes take me two to three hours to kick in.  But I also was suffering from a poor overall quality of sleep, so I knew I needed something that would work rapidly and keep me asleep.

A friend had given me transdermal magnesium oil but the stuff stung like hell, so I had backed off of it.  BUT, I was sufficiently desperate by early March to put up with the stinging in hopes of a few hours of sleep!

So I bore up under the stinging and began to follow what sleep specialists refer to as proper sleep hygiene:

  • Slowing down by 9:00 p.m.;
  • Dimming lights to prepare the body for sleep;
  • Turning off the TV and computer (and iPad and Kindle!);
  • Not exercising close to bedtime;
  • Not sleeping with electronic items in the bedroom;
  • Eating at least three hours before bedtime.

The battle of March I definitely won. Also April and a good bit of May.  Then I got sick in late May and all of June.  Insomnia, coupled with a hacking cough and sinus infection, trounced me for two months straight.  Lord.  Have.  Mercy.

So, I’m returning to my insomnia-bashing ways of early 2013.  I want the insomnia war to be over.  Lord knows I’m battle weary!  At least I can rest in the promise of Psalm 4:8, which I’ve quoted so often while praying for sleep to overtake me:

“I will lie down and sleep in peace because you, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Have you ever fought the “insomnia war”?  What do you do to ensure that your sleep is sweet and consistent?


  1. WOW! I am still going to stick with my original thoughts! When I first started reading, I was like..I’ll share my original insomnia post with her. You’ve been through a lot over the years. I am still going to share because I truly believe discipline lifestyle changes can help with the falling and staying asleep issue. Here’s a link I hope it helps! I know from working the overnight shift that a lack of sleep can get so bad that you break down and cry, or at least, I’ve been there. I will be praying for and with you my friend!
    Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady recently posted..F2BD #4 – Summer WeddingsMy Profile

    • Joi, thanks. I gladly receive any help on in the insomnia war. And you’re right. Part of it is discipline and lifestyle changes. I’ll be reading the post shortly!

  2. I did go through insomnia once. It was when sleep was critical and I was worried about getting it. I was working full-time and going to cosmetology school at night. So I think I was gone from 7:15 am to 10:00 at night. This was around 1990. So I had a cassette tape I listen to. I forget what you call that. It wasn’t music but it was someone talking. I usually fell asleep but every now and then I would hear the tape click before I was in a deep sleep and that meant it wasn’t going to be a good night. I’ve always had problem going “back to sleep” to. Like when my son was a baby I followed all those rules for him and me. Keeping things dim – I practically fed and changed him in the dark. I didn’t turn the television or or anything. It worked for him that he knew that being up at night was temporary but I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Usually by the time I was reaching a slobber zone he was crying for his next feeding. What I do now is try to be the last one to go to bed. It seems to help. I’m bad about having my electronics before bed though.
    Kenya G. Johnson recently posted..It had me at “Relaxing”…My Profile

    • You really had a time of it, Kenya. Lord have mercy. I had to laugh at “reaching a slobber zone”. LOL!

      I still keep my Kindle by my bedside but I do put the phone and the iPad outside. I do think it makes a difference. They say that the body and mind react to the bright light on the screens and think that it’s daytime, so it becomes hard to power down. When I’m very faithful to the sleep hygiene program, it normally works, but there are some nights when it doesn’t matter what I do, I still am wide awake.

      It’s a struggle that I’m struggling to embrace! LOL
      Alison recently posted..The Insomnia WarMy Profile

  3. Ugh! How miserable. My teenage son has problems with sleep and your list sounds like the advice he was given (including a dose of Melatonin each night). It’s a tough thing to conquer, I know.
    Shannon recently posted..CONFESSIONS OF A (NOW) ONE AND A HALF-ARMED BLOGGERMy Profile

    • Shannon, it’s tough. I won’t lie. I feel like each night is a roll of the dice. I may begin by feeling sleepy but there’s no follow-through, regardless of the melatonin and other sleep hygiene steps. Only by faith… :-0
      Alison recently posted..The Insomnia WarMy Profile

  4. I will be praying for you Alison, feeling like it is nine pm at ten am is no good, the one thing I can think that compares to that is overeating and having to drive afterwords,that makes me sleepy and miserable don’t any more. I generally have no trouble falling asleep however one cup of coffee or a can of coke after noon is all it takes to keep me up until five AM. I learned my lesson even though I forget sometimes.

  5. I have occasional bouts of insomnia, and I cannot imagine having to combat it all the time. I would do whatever it took to sleep. You poor thing!-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..The Family Who Runs Together Capri Suns TogetherMy Profile

  6. What works good for me MOST of the time is Similasan Sleeplessness Relief. it is Homeopathoc little beads that I dissolve in my mouth at bedtime. it helps me fall asleep and stay asleep. I buy it online.

  7. Alison, sorry to hear you have been going through this. I a few melatonin pills from a time I had trouble sleeping. Eventually my body seem to reset itself. I don’t function well without proper sleep. Hope things get sorted out for you soon.
    Wanda recently posted..Rest for Weary SoulsMy Profile

  8. Melatonin actually works very well for me. Giving you lots of support to win all these battles and wars!
    Tamara recently posted..Tell Me Something Good.My Profile

  9. Hi Alison! This is such a timely post, there was just coverage of insomnia on the national news last night. My sister also deals with sleeplessness. She says the bed is a place of defeat for her. How sad. I am sure you have felt that way in the past.
    I hope you will be back on your sleep schedule really soon. I know what a crank-monster I am when I don’t sleep. Yuk!

    Blessings to you, Alison,
    Ceil recently posted..The Baby PhoenixMy Profile

  10. I love the term “crank monster”! Yes, that certainly describes me in my most sleep-deprived state, Ceil. I hope things improve for your sister. Been there (still there!), done that!
    Alison recently posted..The Insomnia WarMy Profile

  11. Wow, Alison, that is some serious stuff right there. I am a very light sleeper so the least little thing will wake me up and keep me up. That e-card hit the nail on the head about calculating how much sleep you’ll get if you fall asleep right then. I’ve used lavender oil to help me relax so I can sleep. I also have used a technique I learned in my Theatre classes in college. You close your eyes and imagine every part of your body relaxing from each one of your toes all the way up to the top of your head–hitting every section/part/digit of your body.
    Kimberly H. Smith recently posted..Batch Processing: Managing Your Time WiselyMy Profile

    • Thanks for reminding me about the lavender oil, Kimberly. I have a balm made of lavender, plus lavender essential oil. I also used to do that relaxation technique, but from the head down. Will try that one again too.
      Alison recently posted..The Insomnia WarMy Profile

  12. Insomnia is a beast!!! I am willing to put on my gear and go to war with you if it will help you get your much needed rest. I remember battling insomnia ever so often. I would literally run in my empty apartment living room hoping, wishing, and praying that running laps in my living room would make me fall asleep. Didn’t make me fall asleep but crying from exhaustion makes you tired enough to fall asleep. Go figure! Try acupuncture maybe?
    Andrea recently posted..Belated Anniversary: If I Were Married to the Blog We’d Be DivorcedMy Profile

  13. Andrea, thanks so much! Send reinforcements! LOL! Acupuncture… tried it once and hated it. Felt like I knew when every needle was added. But that was a few years ago, so perhaps I should give it another try. And I sure know crying from exhaustion. And frustration!
    Alison recently posted..The Insomnia WarMy Profile

  14. Oh I feel for you. Insomnia is the worst. My daughter cannot fall asleep at night either. She never gets enough sleep. I don’t have insomnia but I don’t sleep nearly enough. I tend to work into the wee hours of the night until I am so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open. 10 minutes into a book and I am out like a light. Unfortunately it’s usually not till 2 am that I am doing this, and of course the kids have to get up early for school so I’m up too. That’s a vicious cycle too. I wish I had advice for you. A glass of red wine at dinner usually does me in for an early night. Have you tried that?
    Michelle recently posted..Ask Away Friday with Brittnei from HomeMaking with StyleMy Profile

    • I have friends who swear by red wine. I guess nothing ventured, nothing gained? I find that if I can be in slow mode by 9:00, it helps me. But being in slow mode by that time is a scare commodity for me. I really need to be doing less. And doing less earlier. Ah, Michelle! Someday it will all work out. I try to do my part re: sleep hygiene and melatonin and magnesium oil. Wine might be the new frontier!

  15. I’ve had insomnia off and for so long, I get sleepy just thinking about it. I switch up on taking the natural sleep aids like melatonin/valerian and the not so natural like an OTC brand that warns not to drive and claims to promote a good night’s rest, and then there’s a good old glass of red wine. I have to say, the wine works best for me. Studies claim that wine or alcohol-induced sleep is not restful but I wake up pretty rested; but only if I can get right back to sleep after getting up in the middle of the night to relieve my bladder. The way I’ve gotten around that issue is to force every last drop out in a bathroom run after taking my last sip. But when all is said and done, I never EVER get more than 5 hours sleep on any given night. And if on a rare occasion I get 6 full hours sleep, I feel like I’ve accomplished a major feat. You are not alone.

    • Renee, I think I may have to go the wine route! Seems like between us we’ve tried everything else under the sun. Here’s to better sleep for us all!

  16. Arelis Cintron says:

    This has been my ongoing issue for a few years now. I would always keep working on things until my eyes would close. Working on electronics though I am sure that does not help. I did a detox program back in April to rid my body of toxins and I slept eight hours plus for months. However, I’ve picked up my unhealthy eating habits again and I fear the Insomnia monster is back, except that I am not as “productive”. I’ve become more of a zombie :/
    Arelis Cintron recently posted..[Word of God] The Forgotten Question is …My Profile

    • Wow, Arelis. The insomnia monster need to be kept at bay! I’d love to hear more about the detox program. And you’re right, looking at those computer/tablet/phone screens doesn’t help at all after a certain hour.

  17. Thanks so much for coming by my blog! I love what you are doing over here! I esp. love the focus on prayer. I know that is an area that God wants me to grow and develop in more, so I am excited to be here and learn! Thanks again! Following on FB! 🙂

  18. Oh wow Alison! Praying for you sis! I thank God I’ve never battled insomnia and pray that I never will. That’s funny, because exercise MAKES me sleepy. Too funny how one thing has a different affect on someone else. There’s a lady at our church who is a nurse and she suffered from insomnia for almost a year, it was awful for her. I remember her being so miserable she cried all the time. I never knew how serious it was until I saw it first hand in her life. Thank God she has since recovered. I’ll do what I know to do, and that is to pray Proverbs 3:24 over your life my friend…”When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet”. Praying insomnia is gone from your life , in Jesus name! Btw…thanks for linking up! Have a wonderful, sleep-filled week lady!! 🙂
    Michell recently posted..Michell’s Weekly PearlMy Profile

    • Michell, I’m so grateful for your prayers, and that scripture is a great one for me to memorize. I empathize with the lady at your church. This thing makes one miserable!! I’m believing God for full victory.

      Have a blessed week, my dear.
      Alison recently posted..KingMy Profile

  19. I have never experienced insomnia. I’ve had a night here and there when I did not sleep well but never more than 2 or 3 in a row. In general I do not get enough sleep so insomnia sounds just awful 🙁 I hope you eventually completely win the war.
    Chasing Joy recently posted..4 Tips On How To Do Things You Are Afraid To DoMy Profile

  20. I’m glad to read that your nights are getting much better.
    Rona B recently posted..Yikes! I Pulled A Muscle In By Back!My Profile

  21. I’ve been battling the insomnia war since I was a young girl. I agree with all of your suggestions and would like to add sleep in a cool room and don’t wear socks to bed no matter how cold your feet are. I tried melanoma, but wasn’t happy with the results. I’ve had better results with Benadyl, but when I was going through perimenopause even that didn’t work. My favorite tip is to start winding down at 9:00. One of the organizations I am involved with holds meetings past 9:00 I’ve started leaving early, despite their disapproval. I was just sick of not being able to fall asleep afterwards. Those of us who battle the insomnia war understand.
    Savvy Working Gal recently posted..Terminated for Facebook PostMy Profile

    • The socks suggestion is interesting. I often feel like I can’t sleep properly if I don’t wear my “sleep socks” but when I’m home in the Caribbean I don’t, and I sleep well. It’s worth a try, however! And winding down at 9:00 is definitely a plus in the whole “sleep hygiene” routine.

  22. Fighting it as we speak. Napped during the day (trying to beat some nasty sinus crap) and now I can’t sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that requires diligence. I have found that keeping my Anemia under control by taking plenty of high quality Folic Acid helps, or at least it usually helps. I am going to try the Magnesium oil as I have tried everything else and nothing works. Thanks for the tip! (I realize computer doesn’t help at all, but I am so blasted bored!!!)
    the mean mama recently posted..When Bigger is BetterMy Profile

    • LOL re: the computer. It does beat boredom but it also compounds the sleep problems because the mind and body respond to the bright light by thinking that it’s daytime. I hadn’t heard before of using folic acid. Worth a try!

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge