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The Insomnia Marathon

by Annichka
(South San Francisco)

How is it possible to go two, three days with no more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep? Well, I've been routinely doing it for months now, and it's getting old. Miraculously, I am still functioning well enough to teach and administrate, travel, and keep up with a rigorous dance schedule. I eat well (no processed foods, no caffeine after 4pm, very little sugar) and I exercise daily. I am usually in bed between 10 and 11 pm at night and my alarm goes off at 6:30 or 7am, so that should be plenty of time. I do not (cannot) take naps during the day. So why is it that I cannot sleep?


When I go to bed, I typically toss and turn for 1 to 3 hours before drifting off. Then, I'm awake 4 hours later and rarely get back to sleep again. Loud music (usually rock, punk, or electronica!) starts going in my head, and I cannot clear my head to sleep. I try visualization, and that gets me off on wild tangents with scenarios that resemble a dream sequence but are not relaxing or sleep-inducing. Sometimes taking a sleep agent helps, and sometimes it totally backfires and I'm up for hours. Sometimes a hot bath helps, and sometimes it's worthless. Sometimes earplugs ward off sounds that would normally wake me up, and sometimes, they do nothing. I can't seem to find a pattern anywhere. When I can't get to sleep, I get very frustrated and don't know what to do. Walking around, doing yoga, or trying to meditate sometimes makes me feel like I'm having some success, but then I go to bed and I'm still awake. I actually lie awake, yawning, thinking, "I'm so tired," and I still cannot sleep. What's more maddening than that?

I'm going to start keeping a sleep journal - I'm not very successful at keeping journals because I forget about them. Still, maybe there's a pattern that can be discovered that can help.


Kevin: Hey Annichka, thanks for sharing your story. Good luck with the sleep journal, I hope it helps. You may want to include, in addition to sleep/wake times, the levels of your alertness throughout the day. In other words, how awake and attentive you feel from the morning to the late evening. You could use a 6 point scale, for example, where 1 is completely alert and alive, and 6 is asleep (i.e. napping). This could give you an idea of when your physiologic alerting mechanisms are at their highest and lowest, maybe giving you some insight into how your body clock is making it difficult for you to sleep, if it is.

For an example of how your biological clock can invoke insomnia, check out this page on delayed sleep phases.

There will be more to come soon on the site specifically about clock-dependent alerting and sleep journaling, as soon as I'm able to get around to it. So stay tuned for that.

Warmly,
Kevin

Comments for The Insomnia Marathon

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Apr 28, 2016
I have an answer NEW
by: Anonymous

Psilocybin and then multiple acupuncture treatments cured me. I went to many doctors who had no answer. I couldn't sleep for 60 hours at a time and was hospitalized once before due to my body literally giving out and I'm only 20. Please take my advice - it may save you!

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