Insomnia is a monster that stalks the night.
I take Xanax nightly to help me fall asleep and sleep through the night. It works better than anything else I’ve ever fought insomnia with. I don’t take it every night, though. If I don’t have to work the next day, I’ll sometimes let myself stay up as long as I want to, which is usually until somewhere between 1:30 and 3:30 a.m. And some days I’m so tired, my weariness is stronger than my insomnia and I don’t need any help with sleep.
Last Friday, I woke up sleepy and couldn’t really shake that sleepiness all day. I drank as much coffee as I usually do (2-3 cups) and realized that I’d hit a wall where drinking more coffee wouldn’t help me with my tired sluggishness, it would just crank up my anxiety, so after lunch, I switched to drinking water for the rest of the day, like I usually do.
That afternoon, I wrote in an email to my girlfriend, “I’m so tired, I could easily fall asleep as soon as I eat some dinner. Then again, I might also get a second wind and stay up until well after midnight.” Surprise, surprise, I caught that second wind and did some writing until around 1 a.m. I didn’t have to work the next day, so I was happy to stay up and write. Then I switched to reading on the sofa, and a short while later, I was starting to nod off. “Well,” I mumbled to my cat, “off to bed I go.” I brushed my teeth, shuffled to my bedroom, and climbed under the covers with a sleepy smile on my face.
And that’s when the anxiety kicked in. Thanks a lot, Sandman!
When people talk about their insomnia, they usually talk about dwelling on bad memories, spiraling thoughts of mistakes and regrets, or internal monologues about their worthlessness and hopelessness. I was spared all of that, Yay! What I got instead was just a growing unease and edginess. Feh! The bed felt too cold. My bedroom was too dark. The light coming from the bathroom was too bright. The bed felt too warm. I couldn’t stop fidgeting.
After tossing and turning for what felt like hours, I gave up and went for the Xanax. I took a double dose because that generally knocks me out as if I’d gotten into the ring with Muhammad Ali. (Rest in power, champ.) But not that night. It was still at least half an hour, curled up in front of the TV, watching comfort shows, before my brain finally went dark. I slept well through the rest of the night and yet I still woke up besieged by anxiety that lasted all morning.
Insomnia is a monster that stalks the night. Sometimes you get the monster, but sometimes, the monster gets you.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.