Monday, August 27, 2012

Sleep Deprivation

Have you ever been so tired you couldn’t sleep? That’s been the norm for most of my adult life.

Last month, I took a grueling contract job. I used to regularly work nine-to-ten hour days. But I’m not used to it anymore! The last Friday was a twelve-hour day—with no lunch period. Of course, the pay will be very nice, especially since Larry had two new crowns put in his mouth!

In addition, I was doing a very challenging edit. I can usually zip these out in a few hours. This one took four passes and over forty-eight hours total to complete. And I was doing all this while hosting out-of-state company for two and a half weeks.

I managed to spend a couple of days at Disneyland, but even that didn’t affect my insomnia.

Since I retired last year, I'd thought I had learned to relax. I usually walk every day and sleep at least seven or eight hours a night. I’ve also taken a few afternoon naps. But during the contract, I was so overtired I couldn't unwind enough to sleep at all. It's a recurring pattern.

I’ve been thinking about Nan Burton in my new book, Ghost Writer. She’s stuck in a house with a noisy ghost, and he won’t let her sleep until she does what he wants her to do.

At least when she finally goes out to the beach to get away from Max (the ghost), she can get to sleep. But I wake ridiculously early, my mind running at warp speed. I think of all the writing I have to do, bills to pay, email to answer, etc. Then I lie awake trying to nod off, but it’s usually useless. After an hour, I usually just give up, get up, and turn on the computer.

Of course, back into the routine of exercise and a regular schedule, I'm starting to catch up. We're scheduled for some speaking engagements and other events in the next few months, but I should have a bit more discretionary time.

Does anyone know any good secrets for getting to sleep—and staying asleep? Melatonin doesn’t work for me, and I am very resistant to taking medications. Other than retirement without commitment (not likely), I’d appreciate any suggestions.


  1. Pray. That always does it for me when I pray. Because I like to end every prayer with In Jesus name, when I'm in bed and starting to pray I begin with In Jesus name I pray, then I launch into my prayers--I always have a long, long list and I seldom get through them all. Maybe that will work for you.

  2. I learned this in physical therapy. Starting with your toes, stretch to the limit until you no longer feel pain. Then, relax. Work your way up--legs, rear, torso, arms, hands, fingers, neck. Stretch anyway you like, just so to take it to your limit. Not only is it good for the muscles, when they relax, so will you.

    Also, a nice cup of chamomile right before bed works wonders. Some people don't like the taste, but try a blend. They are wonderful and very soothing.

  3. Meditation often works for me but not always. For a lot of us, it's about clearing the mind, but that's easy to say and hard to do!

  4. I use the iTouch. I have some mellow audio books loaded, or a soft playlist. I adjust the sound until its just loud enough to be heard w/o straining and let it distract my mind so it can drift into sleep. I accidentally discovered the Richard Armitage read 3 Georgette Heyer novels into audio. He has a lovely voice to drift asleep to and the stories are quiet enough not to hook me into. (grin)

  5. Marilyn, I've often try that, and it sometimes works - eventually. However, being of a 'certain age' power surges wake me in the middle of the night. I've never been able to get back to sleep once I'm awake. That's my biggest issue. Of course, when 'the voices' keep me awake, nothing will make them go away except getting to the computer and taking dictation - I mean writing their story.

  6. Sunny, thanks for the suggestion. now that I'm 'retarded' (as our good friend always says), tension is rarely the cause of the insomnia. Back in the day when work caused anxiety, that technique really helped relax the muscles, but my brain wouldn't shut down enough. I can usually get to sleep, I just can't seem to stay asleep.

  7. John, I practiced meditation for years. (Still do when I get stressed.) It is very helpful in calming the body and mind, but once I'm awake, it's like a switch is thrown and nothing seems to shut it off again. Still love the practice, though, especially when I'm stressed.

  8. Pauline, I don't do well with either noise or light. I'm one of those people who needs pitch black and a minimum of noise. Of course, we have the soft murmur of our waterfall in the back yard. That provides the white noise recommended, and it is soothing. Now that the contract is over - thank God - and the stress level is diminished, I am able to sleep better. now if the heat would just go away! (We live at the beach, so at least it usually cools off at night. But I'll be VERY happy to get back to our more temperate weather!)