A midsummer night’s insomnia
By Patricia Baer
I do not sleep well. I am envious of those who slumber soundly through the night. A solid night’s sleep is a treasured experience in my corner of the world. I would say a full night’s sleep, but if the statistics are correct, few adults get a full eight hours anymore. I usually achieve a good three or four hours of shuteye before I find myself awake and staring at the ceiling, wondering why — despite my exhaustion — I am suffering this nocturnal torture of alertness.
Although I tend to refer to it as insomnia, I am not technically an insomniac. A person needs less snooze time than mine and multiple days of it to qualify for the term. My issue is more of a broken internal clock that occasionally thinks I am living in London or something and should be getting ready for work when it is only 2 a.m. here in Wisconsin. Some nights I do not fight it. I get up and vacuum or wash dishes. Sometimes I stay in bed to read for a while until sweet drowsiness returns.
On top of this, I also engage in somniloquy, which is a fantastic word and sounds as if I am espousing masterful Shakespearean-level thoughts as I dream, but actually it is a bothersome sleep talking and shouting, sometimes laughing and crying, which can freak out a house guest if I do not warn him or her in advance. I no longer allow myself to fall asleep on planes out of fear I will be restrained by an air marshal for these subconscious mutterings. I have even woken myself up with my dream discussions and, in an addled panic, wondered whose voice I just heard.
This parasomnia stuff runs in my family. We have a few sleep walkers. As far as I know I have not partaken in any night time journeys, but I have bruised myself and woken up in contortionist-worthy poses from acting out my dreams.
I have not had much luck with over-the-counter sleep medication. Instead of rested, I tend to feel hung over the next morning. I know I could, as the commercials say, ask my doctor about a prescription for something more intense. However, ever since an acquaintance shared with me the story about his mother spending $2,000 at her local Walmart in the wee hours of the night while on a prescription sleep aid, I have not considered it an option. The poor woman managed to sleep drive to the store and purchase a carload of patio furniture in her pajamas without anyone questioning her. I have enough trouble curbing my impulse shopping without adding sleep sprees and blackout car cruising.
Instead, tonight I will try my favorite home remedies of milk and housework as I calculate the minimum hours I need to function tomorrow before attempting to sleep once more.