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.
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?