Parents put sleeping through the night as an early childhood goal. As soon as the bundle of joy is home from the hospital and the new parents are bleary-eyed and trying to maintain a semblance of hospitality to an insensitive friend or family member, they will hear tales of how ‘my Torrent slept 18 hours straight when he was three days old’. (I’ve always view those children as perhaps just a little dimmer than the rest). Or they will hear from the equally insensitive about how little Desil has NEVER slept through the night in his entire 34 years.
The point being that we value sleep, long for it and yet it eludes so many. Now the sleep experts (and yes, would that be a great job or what?) tell us that 30%-50% of the population has some form of insomnia but only 10% experience chronic insomnia. Insomnia meaning ‘in want of sleep’ has classifications of course, and is a symptom not a condition or disease. There is the ‘I can’t fall asleep’ type, the middle-of-the-night insomnia and middle insomnia are splitting hairs over the definition – the hyphenated type wakes up for some other reason and can’t get back to sleep and the middle type wakes up for no reason and can’t continue sleeping – bottom line, both are awake in the middle of the night and wondering WTF. They can’t stay asleep. And then there is the terminal insomnia which makes it sound like some sort of death thing but in reality it is simply that you wake up a lot earlier than you think you should.
My prefered insomnia expression seems to be the staying asleep kind, though it could be arguably the terminal but I’ll be damned if I am getting up at 4 am. For years it was 3am consistently, like clockwork so I suppose the 4am is an improvement. What is going on at 3 am or 4 am that I need to be awake for? Nothing, it is quiet outside. All the loud street walking drunks are home or curled up in a ditch somewhere. No buses, few vehicles even the cat is deep asleep, yet I am wide awake.
I have tried everything during my many years of sleep disturbances. When I worked shift it was a crisis to make sure I got sufficient sleep to function at work – I never did. I tried all sorts of drugs, prescription and otherwise, diet, exercise at the appropriate times and inappropriate times, heavy meals, light meals, no caffeine, some caffeine, white noise, ear plugs, sleep masks, cool room, different pillow, melatonin, sleepytime tea, tryptophan – you name it, I’ve tried it. And nothing will help keep me asleep through the night.
Except ibuprophen. Yes, that’s correct. 400mg of good old ibuprophen at bedtime and I will sleep like I want to. Weird or what? But now I’ve been told that a daily ibuprophen habit is risky due to GI bleeding. Just when you find a cure it becomes another disease.
It could be worse I suppose. There is (was?) a farmer in Vietnam who claims to have not slept in 35 years! I am not visited by incubus or night demons intent on sucking dry my soul.
And this? only makes me wonder, but not too long, about what sort of messed up childhood these two had.
And then there is the other possibility. There exists out there in the weirdness of being alive, the phenomenon of sleep state misinterpretation. Which basically means you think you are not asleep but you really are you idiot.