Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I decided to write this post in the middle of the night. I was awake, wishing I was asleep.

I don't really know why I can't sleep through the night sometimes. Maybe there's some noise that wakes me, maybe it's something I ate, maybe it's the end of the school year anxiety, but it's been happening regularly lately.

The first doctor that I told about my sleep problems gave me a prescription for Sonata. Such a nice, musical name. He said, "You'll love this. You'll think nothing is happening for 20 minutes, then the next thing you know, you're waking up in the morning." It did work like that for awhile, though it always made me a little nervous. Then I took it and it didn't work. If you don't fall asleep after taking Sonata, you can have hallucinations! Not fun at all. That was it for Sonata.

Years later with a different doctor, I got a discussion on "sleep hygiene." If you can't sleep, don't stay in bed, get up and do something boring for awhile and then go back to bed. Dark room, don't read in bed, etc. Doesn't work for me. I also tried natural remedies - melatonin and calming herbs.  I'm still awake. And being awake, I start thinking of all the things I should or could be doing.

My teaching partner said I should put a notebook and pencil beside my bed. "If you're going to do lesson planning in the middle of the night, you might as well write it down so you don't forget it."

This is a pretty good representation of what it's like to be laying awake, not being able to sleep:

That is The Nightmare Song from the operetta Iolanthe by Gilbert and Sullivan, performed by Dave Ross. It's a patter song and the lyrics go by pretty quickly, so here are the words:

When you're lying awake, with a dismal headache,
And repose is taboo'd by anxiety,
I conceive you can use any language you choose
To indulge in without impropriety.

For your brain is on fire, the bedcothes conspire
Of usual slumber to plunder you.
First your counterpane goes and uncovers your toes,
And your sheet slips demurely from under you.
Then the blanketing tickles, your feel like mixed pickles,
So terribly sharp is the pricking.
And you're hot and you're cross and you tumble and toss,
Til there's nothing twixt you and the ticking.

Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap,
And you pick 'em all up in a tangle.
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines
To remain at it usual angle.

When you get some repose in the form of a doze
With hot eyeball and head ever aching,
Your slumbering teems with sucn horrible dreams
That you'd very much better be waking.

You awake with a shudder, despairing...

You're a regular wreck,
With a crick in your neck,
And no wonder you snore,
For your head's on the floor.
And you're needles and pins
Form your soles to your shins,
And your flesh a acreep
For your left leg's asleep.
And you've cramp in your toes
And a fly on your nose,
And some fluff on your lung,
And a feverish tongue,
And a thirst that's intense,
And a general sense

That you haven't bee sleeping in clover.
But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last!
The night has been long, ditto , ditto my song,
And thank good ness they're both of them over!

I love Gilbert and Sullivan!

What I have been working on lately is getting some exercise, mostly walking and a little yoga. I think this makes me more relaxed and tired, so hopefully I will fall asleep and stay asleep. It is also essential for me to avoid looking a screen too close to when I want to sleep, because the light in my face disrupts the melatonin that should move me into sleep mode. So no computers or Kindle before bed. I have to say that the experience of not sleeping makes me appreciate those nights when I sleep soundly until morning. What a great feeling!


  1. I hate when I have sleep issues, but fortunately it doesn't happen often. Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am to sleep well.

  2. Oh, Becky, sleep is one of those tough issues. I highly recommend eye pads for when you wake up and can't fall back asleep. Bucky is the brand I use and order the cotton velour. There's something so relaxing about putting them on that helps me get back to sleep. I keep them on my nightstand, so I can reach for them without turning on a light. I tend to keep the elastic quite loose, pull them on, breathe deeply, and fall back asleep. Hope they help you!

    1. Thank you! I will look into the Bucky eye pads.

  3. Not sleeping is so difficult. It sounds like you are actively trying solutions. Exercise usually works for me too--an intense mile on the elliptical or a fast couple mile walk. Sending sweet sleep wishes your way!

  4. What a frustrating problem! I hope you find a solution soon. Maybe summer break?

    1. I agree, summer break will probably help, though we're planning major redecorating, so there's a new stress!

  5. I'm an insomniac. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and started cruising FB where I found a fabulous post about fluoridation of water, so I texted a student in my dual credit communication class and shared the topic with her at 4:53 a.m.

    Like you, I don't like to medicate, so I tend to avoid pills. I do sometimes take half an Advil P.M., and that helps. I'm hoping summer will bring sweet sleep, but in the interim I'm trying Ramona's suggestion.

  6. Focusing on the positive - sleeping through the night - is a good idea. So is lowering expectations. My 93-year-old mother drinks a thimbleful of sickening sweet wine. Whatever works!

    1. Wine is relaxing. Maybe I'll try some nice chardonnay.