Posted in Insomnia

Sleepy Time

My Brain is on the Other End
My Brain is on the Other End

Okay, I’m going for the gold: a certified sleep therapy program. I’m a life-long insomniac. It’s not attitude – it’s brain chemistry. I couldn’t do nap time when I was 5. I still have memories of staring at the classroom ceiling in the dark and wondering when the torture would end. I hated anything that started in the morning: school, meetings, classes, you name it. I did well in all of them, but my body was not a happy camper. I’m not at my best at a 7:30 am meeting after I’ve had four hours of sleep. My immune system was a frequent victim of those feckless nights.

Like a lot of insomniacs, my internal chronometer is off by a few hours. Typically, your body starts a “cool-down” process to get you ready for sleep. Your body temperature starts to decrease a bit and your active, roaming mind gets the five-minute warning. We’re shutting down now, good nighzzzzzz…

But me? My stupid brain won’t shut up for a minute and my body temperature refuses to chill out. I do get to sleep eventually, but not for a while (hence the nap time torture ritual). It’s called Sleep Onset Insomnia and that’s a killer for me. These days I’m also experiencing very early awakenings. When that happens, I’m up and nothing short of a morphine drip will get me back down.

I’ve been to sleep doctors before, but not in a long time. I take a multitude of medications to get me into a bed and keep me there. I’ve also been trying to follow some online advice about turning my bedroom into a sleep haven. I’ve made some progress, but good luck with the rest of it. I’m going offline earlier and keeping my computer life and my sleep life as separate as I can. Problem is, I associate bedtime with toss-and-turn time.

So, I hope this helps. The clinician I’m seeing is a psychologist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. It’s an actual field and a new one, with a marked dearth of practitioners. Fortunately, I live in Boston which has lots and lots (and lots) of doctors from all background. I had my choice of two!