Can you catch insomnia?

So, then… (to borrow an awesome intro) I’ve had the darndest problem these past few days.

I can’t get to sleep.

I figured the first night that it was probably to do with having been on holiday and topped up with extra rest. Or having screwed up my sleeping patterns at the weekend by over-indulging in ‘Mericans and staying up all night Saturday and sleeping til 5pm Sunday (silver linings). But no. Because Sunday night I tried really hard, and went to bed at the right time and just…lay there. For hours.

Yet Monday was alright and I didn’t need my nap in the van at lunchtime (as has been my wont to do) and I went out for a nice 7.8 mile run (no cramps – yay!) and figured that I was all set for as good a night’s sleep as ever I was likely to get. And because I was writing, I kindasortamighta stayed up a bit beyond the time when I normally try to turn in, just to make extra-specially sure that I’d sleep.

So when I went to bed at [not saying’o’clock]a.m., I was pretty grouchy to find that once again, I was laying there in the dark with absolutely NO inclination to sleep.

I heard the church bells strike the quarter. And the half. And I rolled over angrily and huffed the covers around and snarked with Husby (who was up, sick (awwwwh)) about how ridiculous the situation was.

Today after 3 and a half hours of sleep, I fully expected to be shattered, but I was perky and lively and completely functional. I had a great day, needed no lunchtime nap, and in fact it wasn’t until I got home and had sat writing for a while that my noggin slipped into a daze and then a doze and I forgot to set an alarm. Which resulted in Husby and I probably qualifying for the World Speed Shopping Championships after I woke up 20 minutes before the store closed and we rushed off and completed our weekly shop in 11 minutes (travel time not included). If only I could channel that energy somehow!

Me and poor, sick Husby on our way to the shops. For real.
So I thought I’d do a little research (something I suck at, which is why most of what I write is opinion-based or consists of whatever falls out of my brain when my hands hit the keyboard) into insomnia, because I’ve been hanging out online with Starr (the Blogosphere’s favourite insomniac) and it might be catching. Here’s what I found:

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you’ve hadΒ enough opportunity to sleep – NHS Choices

I can already see I don’t quite fit the bill, because in spite of the difficulty in getting to sleep both nights, I woke up refreshed (ish, or sufficiently so) in the mornings. And then there’s the slightly more snaggly bit (and the bit which gets me backlash from family) “enough opportunity to sleep” – the part I rarely provide myself with.

As a baby (according to legend) I had colic every night. For hours. And stayed up. My poor, traumatised parents once even put me in the car, late at night, and drove me (still screaming) several cities over to visit WonderAunty. I was placed into her arms and immediately shut up and fell asleep. How I wasn’t left on someone else’s doorstep on the way home, I shall never know…

The precedent was set, though and through my childhood I used every trick in the book to stay up late (usually to read), occasionally to the point of pretending to be sick (and being smart enough to occasionally pour a cup of water loudly into the toilet, then flush it, to sound authentic) so that I could stay up in the bathroom with a pile of Beano and Dandy comics until one or the other parent dragged themselves out of bed in the small hours to insist I return to my room.

Through my teens and twenties, I sucked at getting to bed at a sensible hour, often working on 4 or 5 hours a night, usually supplementing with naps. A pattern I still follow, and whatever the doctors say about sleep debt or the millions of brain cells I’m losing or the increased risk of whatever the trendy condition du jour is, it means I get the best of both worlds – I can function through the day and fun through the night, with relatively little time wasted in unconsciousness.

But never before have I struggled to get to sleep. And that’s disconcerting. Because it’s bad enough to go to bed and feel like I might be missing out on something good without the added insult of being awake to notice.

I hope it stops soon.

And on that note, I’m off to bed. Late.

34 thoughts on “Can you catch insomnia?

  1. It seems to have been, thanks. Goodness me though, you must be struggling to function! Do you get much chance to top up with napping?

    LOVE your string idea. You were a smart kid πŸ™‚


  2. Wow, sounds like I could have written this myself … except for the pretending to be sick part. My bedroom closet had a light with a pull chain, so I tied a string to it so if I heard footsteps, I could yank it to turn out the light so I wouldn't get in trouble lol. Nowadays, I'm getting to sleep after the birds wake up more and more often. I hate seeing it get light out before I even fall asleep! I'm up until at least 2 every morning, so on days when I have to get up at 6:30 to head to the office, anything later than that starts to get to me. Some nights I'm lucky if I get in an hour. Hope yours is temporary!


  3. My issue is more collapsing of exhaustion and then waking up in the middle of night. I have done this for years!! Not fun! I do hope you can get back to a normal sleep pattern, I hear sleep is really important!! I wouldn't know it personally, but that is what I hear! Lol!


  4. I hope she didn't have the colic to go with it!

    Smart kid, though πŸ˜€

    I hope I keep feeling perky – I've a feeling I'll crash at some point and I just hope it's not while I'm driving!


  5. Can't even guess why it's stuck with me all these years – and it's a lot of years.
    So did you have the crash? Hmm…naps. I dunno. If I have opportunity to grab a nap between school and dinner, I'll do it. Does it help? Not sure. I guess. I'm sure there's something to be said for the taking your sleep at the right times theory, but my right times is morning. I have a night shift inner clock and a day shift job. Not fun.
    The laying awake and not being able to fall asleep is the worst – that happened to me last night. Like you said, I usually can go to sleep fairly well when I do, but on the nights when the insomnia kicks in I want to scream.


  6. I spent the last couple years with a very restless sleep and it was torture. I'm finally on some medication and my sleep is back to normal. I hope things balance out for you, Lizzi. I know how miserable it can be.


  7. Owwww that sucks! Such fun to try to cope with the day after so little rest. I hope you get more tonight! I just hope I don't have to re-establish some kind of bedtime routine for myself! That said, I wouldn't mind someone reading me a story before I turn the light out πŸ™‚ Guess that's why I love the Blogosphere so much – it's all people's stories πŸ™‚


  8. GAH, insomnia is definitely not my problem. I fall asleep everywhere! I get nothing done because if I ever lay down for a second with one of my boys, I am out until about 1:00 a.m. What is it with us and our weird sleeping habits?


  9. Ugh – there's nothing worse than lying in bed and literally watching the minutes tick on without falling asleep. I hate the game, “If I go to sleep now, I'll get ___ hours of sleep.” For the record, last night it was 3 1/2 hours. Awesome.


  10. I learned very early to function on little or no sleep… it gets harder as I get older but I can still fight through the fog relatively quickly.


  11. Perhaps, but then I think I wouldn't sleep at all! And I know *that* wouldn't be good for me in any way shape or form.

    Maybe I could plan my chapters and focus my mind on something rather than lying there stewing. That could work.


  12. Ow that sucks, Dave! Wish you didn't have to put up with that. Yeah, on balance, the regular kind of 'not able to sleep' is looking pretty good.

    I did used to do this weird thing where I'd wake up in the night, quite randomly, and not be able to get back to sleep. That was a thing for a while.


  13. I hate that – not being able to turn your brain off is the WORST. It doesn't happen to me often but when it does, OY! This has been more a dull, boring, lying there wishing for unconsciousness with nothing to entertain the imagination kind of deal. Which sucks in its own way.

    Today I couldn't even NAP, which never happens to me. Going running again later in hopes that I'll tire myself out *sigh*


  14. That sucks, Kate! I didn't get a lunchtime nap today because I was in the office, and I went cross-eyed and zoned out in front of the computer a bit. The trick is to click something every so often so it sounds like you're working. And get a station which faces the wall πŸ˜‰

    And no – I won't be giving up late night chatting anytime soon πŸ˜€


  15. I hate that. Ugh. BUT I am SO glad that you are still feeling restored in the morning… for now! I think our minds and bodies and spirits go through seasons of unrest… a stirring if you will. Just try to use that unforeseen opportunity for some kind of purpose. Get back up and write your book.
    I have had my seasons of sleeplessness as well- and I was more angry each night I wasted precious sleep time!! I decided if I wasn't going to sleep, I would do SOMETHING with that exhausted and awfully debilitating part of me.


  16. Take the Crack out of your diet and you will sleep more! I have not slept with normal patterns in 25 years! My first bout with insomnia lasted over 2 months when I was 18… I had just started to date my wife! Had bouts off and on for several years unprovoked by me, then at 21 started working nights for about 16 years which screwed my sleep even more. Then the last 6 plus years it has been due to back pain from a work injury/surgery.


  17. I have the worst bouts with insomnia. It doesn't matter HOW sleepy I am, my mind wants to be awake at night– thinking and doing and creating and chasing all sorts of whimsies that eluded me in the zombie like hours of the day. Hopefully this will settle down for you soon though… except if you keep feeling refreshed then maybe you're a super human who gets to have an extra long day (jealous).


  18. Laying there and not being able to sleep is the worst. It probably does have something to do with your crazy sleep habits but I don't see you giving up late night vid-chatting anytime soon! Ahh… I miss being able to nap in my car during lunch. Now I have to stay awake as it would be odd if I went to sleep in our building lobby.


  19. Lizzi, I think the childhood-you has been reincarnated as my elder daughter! She has never wanted to sleep and by a year old had worked out if she waited till after she'd been put in her cot to do her business in her nappy then we'd take her out again. So she started pretending to do it, pulling faces and so on. And then I'd go to pick her up and she'd giggle her head off. (Well not literally of course.)
    I'm not the world's best at sleeping myself, but I seem to slowly be getting better. Hope you either get a good sleep or keep feeling perky.


  20. Loved the So then reference, Lizzi, but don't tell that Darcy. She's probably already got a huge head about how awesome she is.

    Sorry to hear you're not sleeping well. If it helps, it's 1:30 am on a Tuesday and I'm 11 beers in for no particular reason. Me and the dogs are just sort of staring at the computer screen wondering what the fuck we're doing up still. Lol.


  21. Wow, that's a pretty strong memory to be able to remember the name of it. Sounds amazing. Little kid me would've loved that!

    I'll try to bear in mind about the crash and make sure I get a bit more sleep if possible. Naps *must* count towards the whole, right? How far do you buy into this 'sleep is important to take at the right times' stuff?

    I got a little more sleep last night, and lay awake for a shorter time, which was good πŸ™‚


  22. Ah, so now you know what it's like in my world. I feel like there should be a sinister laugh here or something.
    OK. Anyway. Don't let the perkiness fool you, my friend! I've lied to myself with that post-insomnia perkiness and competence more times than you are old. Sometimes it's good…and then comes the crash. BAM! I think for me, it's adrenaline. I make it through because I have to. I spent my entire life being an insomniac. I recall once when I was probably only about ten, I could not sleep for anything and my poor mother was exhausted. She gave me permission to stay up as late as I needed to provided that I didn't keep everyone awake. And so I watched a movie on TV in the middle of the night – my first! It seemed like a very long movie (really not – under two hours) but I was wide-a-freaking-wake so… I even remember what it was – “The Glory Guys” – look it up. Awesome.
    I hope you get some rest soon!


  23. Lizzi, dearest, thank you for linking to my blog in your post about sleeplessness. I'm hoping all your fellow insomniacs will take that opportunity to fill their sleepless nights reading my entire archive of short funny true stories. They will either laugh so much, they won't care that they're missing sleep — OR they'll be so bored, they'll fall into an instant slumber. Either way, it's a win! :o) Ha!


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