October 15, 2008

T-Big is Go is REDUNDANT (But T-Big is still go)

The book is go, although granted, not QUITE as go this sleepless week as it was LAST week. But still. It is go. And yes! Yes! We shall call it T-Big. Thank you. You are all brilliant. I could not post this because our INTERNETS has been out for 4 days now, but you should know that I WROTE this at 7 PM on Monday night:

This morning, I woke up at about 3 am with my brain buzzing and zipping about like a bee on methamphetamines. I lay there flopping back and forth and making disgruntled I’d-Rather-Be-Sleeping noises for an hour.

For those of you who are fellow bedmates with insomnia, allow me to share some wisdom: Flopping and grunting angrily helped me sleep not all. (And it TRULY irked Schubert and Boggart, who were trying to Winter Kitty up in the warm crevice between me and Scott that is their rightful fiefdom as soon as the calendar ticks into October.) (If the parenthetical before THIS parenthetical is giving you a problem, you should know that “Winter Kitty” is a verb at our house. You do not HAVE to be a kitty to Winter Kitty up---dogs, children, and the icy feet of one’s spouse are all completely viable subjects who can perform this action, although the very LAST of those subjects probably shouldn’t if the icy feet’s OWNER doesn’t want to get smothered with a pillow as soon as he falls asleep. JUST SAYING.)

At last I rolled out of the bed. Both cats gave me POISONOUS looks and flopped indignantly onto Scott, who was graciously inert and radiating heat. I, meanwhile, struggled into jeans and headed north up 75 where I have a satellite office (read: Starbucks) that opens at 5 am.

This is a NEW satellite office, and I mean both that it is new to me and new to existing. They opened maybe 4 days ago? I have not been because it is much farther than both my regular offices. In fact I have to PASS my favorite office on the way, but they do not open until 6 am.

SO, I went in, got myself a skinny latte, and plunked myself down in a chair. I booted up Lappy 2000 and settled my brain in Fictional Amarillo. I was there ten minutes in when a VENT directly above me began SLOW-POURING icy air directly onto my hapless body. I say slow pouring because this air was SO COLD it was OOZEY and white with ice crystals. I could practically SEE it invading the regular air as it sludged out of the vents and sank down until it enveloped me.

It was RIDICULOUS cold. I was wearing jeans, boots and a sweater, but after five minutes, I was trembling. After ten, my teeth started having involuntary chatter-spasms. At 15, my hands started to hurt and the pads of my fingers were faintly blue. I know I am prone to hyperbole, but this is NOT that. It was really. Stinkin’. Cold.

Me: Hey John? (John was my Barista) It’s a little chilly in here.
John: Well… you ARE sitting right under a vent.
Me: Yeah. Um. Show me a chair that’s NOT under a vent?

John looked up, and saw what I had already discovered: An arctic vent fairy had installed the ceiling. Every fourth tile was a HUGE, square, four sided vent that was oozing gaseous-tundra simultaneously north, south, east and west.

John: Um….yeah. Let me go fuss with the thermostat.

Half an hour later, it was much. Much worse. It was actually a good 20 degrees warmer OUTSIDE, but a droozling rain was happening, and my Laptop, she is not specced to work while submerged.

I went up to talk to John again, and found him huddled up between the espresso machine and a knot of his fellow Baristas for warmth. He was blowing on his hands and then rubbing them together and stamping his feet. They looked like a herd of Nordic ice-sheep, backs to the wind, toughing out January. The manager said, “See, the geniuses who built this new building put the thermostat next to the hot water heater. RIGHT next to it.” At that point, it below 50 degrees in there, and they couldn’t get the air to shut off.

We all closed our eyes in tandem and called upon our ancestors to lay a curse upon the head of architect. I’m Irish, so my curse involved house sprites and the British. I finally gave up and went to a Starbucks that was more like a coffee house and less like a meat locker, but I felt for John and his fellow Bar-icicles. They had 6 more hours of shift ahead of them with their blood solidifying. As I packed up, they were deciding to go outside in shifts and stand under the portico to warm up. As for me, even at the new Starbucks, which was regulation cool, I never got warm enough to have my marrows completely thaw.

When I finished my days work, I headed home. I was SO sleepy and still chilled that I must have passed out at the wheel. When I came to, I was in Buffalo Wild Wings buying an ENORMOUS VAT of spicy fried bird fat with dip and celery. I went home and got in the bed with extra socks on and watched Joss Whedon DVDs and ate hot chicken and ate hot chicken and ate hot chicken and ATE HOT CHICKEN until I was SO FULL OF CHICKEN I felt PACKED with it. I was like a SUITCASE going on a LONG journey, where you have to ROLL UP YOUR SOCKS into airtight packets to make everything fit, except instead of rolled socks and toiletries and shoes, all I had packed in me was REALLY A LOT OF HOT CHICKEN.

I lolled, helpless and bloated, clogged with chicken from my ankles to the top of my skull. SCOTT! I said, WHY DID YOU LET ME EAT ALL THAT CHICKEN! I AM AS BLOATED AS A TICK! I AM! I AM LIKE A…LIKE A…. CHICKEN TICK.

He said, Don’t go to sleep.
I said, The chicken is MAKING me go to sleep.
He said, DO NOT. You will sleep all afternoon and then be up all night and become nocturnal and be crabby.
I said, As the chicken wills. I am helpless before it.

That’s the last thing I remember. I woke up JUST as the sun was setting, and I found my day had come full circle. Both my feline boys were Winter Kittied up with me, limp as deflated balloons after the world’s best birthday party, happy as a pair of fuzzy dice that get hung on the rearview of brand new Porsche. All was forgiven.

And I am never going to sleep again.

ADDENDUM: It is now Wednesday. I have never gone to sleep again, as threatened. Or, that is to say, I HAVE gone to sleep again, but EVERY NIGHT I wake up at 2 or 3 and can’t sleep again until 5 or 6. I am BORKED. Melatonin has failed me, warm milk has failed me, turning on bad TV has failed me. HOW DO I FALL BACK ASLEEP?

Posted by joshilyn at October 15, 2008 3:40 PM

Oh, lovely Joss. I have (sadly) no advice - only GRATITUDE that your insomnia does not prevent the FUNNY. You make my life better!! Thank you!!!

Posted by: Kate Setzer Kamphausen at October 15, 2008 3:47 PM

This is what I like to use when my brain is whizzing along at a million miles an hours. It allows my brain to disengage and the next thing I know I'm waking from a good nights sleep having no idea when I actually dropped off, but knowing it wasn't much more than 10-15 minutes after dosing.


Posted by: Melissa at October 15, 2008 4:03 PM

Celestial Seasons Sleepytime EXTRA. (It's the valerian that does it.) Two cups before bed. Don't blame me if they have to dynamite you out.

(Do this immediately so I will get credit. It's actually that full moon, coming and going,and it will be gone in a few days and you will sleep and I won't get the credit.)

But really. Sleepytime Extra. Mere Sleepytime tastes fine but that's all. Get Extra.

Posted by: rams at October 15, 2008 4:33 PM

I've heard the best thing is to force yourself to stay awake and busy, all the way from when you wake up (2am?) until the following night's proper bedtime. By then you're so exhausted you can't help but sleep the whole night through.

Your blog is a great source of new vocabulary: Winter Kitty, A Bunnies, Borked...

Posted by: Holly at October 15, 2008 4:45 PM

Same problem. It is the full moon.


Posted by: jean at October 15, 2008 5:01 PM

Unisom. Take 'em every night. It's the only way I can shut off the 'GO' part of my brain.

Posted by: Amy-Go at October 15, 2008 5:08 PM

My most reliable going to sleep method (although it does not always work for STAYING asleep) is to listen to a book on CD at a very low volume, just enough that I can distinguish the words if there is absolutely no noise in the room. Some books work better than others, although the ones that work well do not put me to sleep when I listen to them in the car (thankfully). Agatha Christie works, especially if the reader is Hugh Fraser (I think I have that right).

Understand, this is NOT a judgment as to how interesting the book is - just that it's a method that works for me. Also, trying to watch a television show that I'm interested in, while lying in bed. Instant snoozeville. Doesn't work with boring television.

Posted by: Deborah P at October 15, 2008 5:31 PM

Do you have any textbooks accessible? Maybe something like Organic Chemistry (always worked for me) or even Calculus? The advantage to this method is that if it doesn't work, you might learn something! But it worked for me through many years of college. Do NOT try the dictionary, as it will keep you up for DAYS.

So sorry about the Starbucks! You'd think they'd have these things figured out.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at October 15, 2008 5:49 PM

I used to work 11pm-7am 5 nights a week. Not the same 5. I would sometimes have one night, sometimes two in a row where I could try to get back on a human schedule so I could experience daylight with the rest of the world.

It was tricky because I often had to sleep but only for a few hours (keeping shoes on, sleeping on the couch and filling bladder first were helpful). This might help you if you decide to just try to go all the way through from 2 or 3 but need a couple of hours so as to avoid hallucinations and icy chills like someone is stepping over your grave.

Medicinally, I would occassionally do caffeine tablets or benadryl. This made me feel like Elvis though so I tried to be sparing with the medicines.

The last piece of advice I thought of is that when I was trying to "train" my daughter to sleep, the Ferber book said "sleep begets sleep" and that was the best advice. The more she napped, the more likely she would be to sleep soundly during the night. Maybe it works for grownups too? Maybe you are too tired to sleep? Easier said than done but maybe try to get some better/more sleep? That or move to Europe where it will be breakfast time when you wake up. Thats all of the advice I can conjure.

Posted by: Em at October 15, 2008 5:51 PM

I am doing the SAME THING........so glad it's not just me!

Posted by: Julie at October 15, 2008 6:03 PM

Count backwards from 500. Helps to visualize the numbers being written on a chalkboard or something as you count. Only once have I gotten down to zero and had to turn around and start counting back up, and that was a time that my mental illness number, as you would say, was so far out of this solar system that it was a miracle I slept at all during that entire week.

Posted by: JenA at October 15, 2008 6:11 PM

Dude when the melatonin fails I don't know what to do. That's my go to drug. Ummm how about lay off the caffeine? No?

Posted by: pam at October 15, 2008 6:49 PM

Not sleeping is the pits :( It's probably best to lay off the caffeine, and if it gets worse go to the doc for a sleep aid. (Myself, I am a very intense insomniac whose knock-em-out prescription sleeping pills only work SOMETIMES! Boo!)
Anyway, just read "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming" and it was great! Kinda darkish, but really great :D You are a rock star!

Posted by: Heather at October 15, 2008 7:09 PM

Since menopause struck I've had problems falling and staying asleep. I'm with Amy-Go unisome. But I do have another little trick that I've used for years. When I can fall asleep I see in my mind my childhood neighborhood. I move from house to house naming the family members and their pets. I've got this really bizaar memory...I'm not sure if insomnia and this trick are the reason.

Posted by: Cele at October 15, 2008 7:31 PM

I can't help you, I fight the same thing. Not exactly the same odd hours, but odd hours nontheless. I think the trick is to force yourself up until the following evening when you want to go to bed. My problem is even if I do that, I tend to then fight to stay away THRU the first sleepy time, because it comes waaaay to early, and then I'm up again until.... almost morning. If I could be as productive in the night as I am (theoretically) during the day, I'd just live like this. But it doesn't work so well when you need to coordinate with other human scheudles.

Posted by: Laume at October 15, 2008 8:57 PM

I wish we lived in the same sort of ZIP code because then when we both can't sleep at 2 in the morning, we could meet at an all-night place and read bad tabloids and write our own articles to submit.

However, Lillian and I are absolutely and blatantly steal the "winter kitty" phrase, because it's so very perfect. Thank you!

Posted by: Fran at October 15, 2008 11:34 PM

I agree with the fight it and stay awake as long as you can. Then get up at whatever is a reasonable time for you the next morning. I know this works for jetlag as I've suffered many a jet lag and you just have to push through. PUSH THROUGH!

Posted by: nik at October 16, 2008 1:53 AM

Urgh, I used to have a desk job right under a vent like that. I hid a space heater under my desk in my cubicle/icicle so at least my feet were warm.

I wake up around 2 or 3 too. Then usually have to get up at 5 or 6, so I've just wasted a couple hours lying around hoping for sleep that doesn't come. On the few nights where I KNOW I can sleep in, Unisom sometimes (not always) helps. I go through life as a zoned-out zombie. Hard as it is to believe, this is actually better than the insomnia I used to have in my youth!

Posted by: Brigitte at October 16, 2008 5:23 AM

Coffea Cruda! It's homeopathic, does not make you dopey, does not interfere with any other medications. All it does is quiet your brain so you can sleep. I swear by it. You can get it at your local Hippie Food Emporium.

Posted by: Badger at October 16, 2008 8:35 AM

Sleep? What's that? I'd say I'd finally get some sleep when I'm not ten months pregnant anymore, but I know better!! I usually head for the couch with a book until I can fall back asleep, although then I run the risk of my somewhat insomniac son wandering out of his bedroom, wanting to know why the light is on. I have no idea when that kid sleeps, either.

Posted by: amy at October 16, 2008 8:42 AM

More hot chicken?

Posted by: Cathy at October 16, 2008 8:59 AM

Hail, fellow insomniac! At least you're productive. I ended up at Kroger at 11:30 because I *had* to have some dried slivered garlic. Was I in the middle of cooking something garlicky? No! But, I was garlic deprived and couldn't rest until my pantry was replete. Can you say "make work"?

My go-to middle of the night soporific is Benedryl, the cheap generic Costco version, of course. It's non habit forming, lasts for 4 hours, you're protected against the scurrilous stealth 3a.m. allergy attack and you wake up alert and ready to go, well, as much as one can b.c. (before caffeine). Good luck, can't wait for the new book.

Posted by: LaurieB at October 16, 2008 9:59 AM

I love that I got Winter Kitty as a verb just as I didn't question what a Lama Patch was; that my brain is somehow on the same wave length as yours (dare I compare our neurons - you sure make better use of yours).

Sad but true, cutting back on the caffiene will help. For serious sleep I recommend a dr. rx'd something - you can always take half or even a 1/4. And exercise (as if I'd know what that is) but not too close to bed time.

But thank you for this entertaining-tho-at-your-expense entry. The only thing allowing me to hold out until T-Big is published (eta?).

Posted by: Elizabeth J at October 16, 2008 11:15 AM

I had trouble sleeping sometimes too, waking at 2 a.m. with a buzzing brain that would not shut up.

Fortunately, I did find ways to stop that. Unfortunately, it involved painful acts like cutting out wine with dinner, and adding lots of exercise to my day. Fortunately, that also helped me lose 15 pounds. Unfortunately I still have 15 more to go. But I'm sleeping way better and feeling fortunate!

And Seymour and Tuxedo here don't just winter kitty up -- they staple us to the bed every night all year 'round.

Posted by: Lulu at October 16, 2008 1:03 PM

I would suggest a dose of endorphins in the morning. I tend to push these off when I'm busy with mental work. If I don't walk in the morning though, in I tend to start having problems with perimenopausal insomnia.

Also, limit the amount of blue-light you see two hours before you want to go to sleep. No TV or computers after a certain point. (This is also problematic for me when I have to turn in grades or when I'm in a juicy writing mode.) But this really helps.

And, my mental mantra is the "Hail Mary" when I do wake up and can't roll over and doze back off. I aim for a mental "decade," a set of ten. I know non-Catholics may avoid this one, but perhaps there is another prayer of similar length that they can substitue.

Posted by: JulieB at October 16, 2008 1:08 PM

Oh, Lulu's commented on something I meant to mention. I do have to limit wine about one week a month or I will wake up and feel very very edgy and mentally-churney.

Posted by: JulieB at October 16, 2008 1:10 PM

Nyquil . . . not just for nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold medicine, but for nighttime best sleep you ever got for the past . . . .

Not necessarily the whole dose - keeps my sinus cavities open (no daytime meds needed for them) and I sleep straight thru.

Posted by: Lmerie at October 16, 2008 1:46 PM

Umm... did you tivo the presidential debate? Just fire it up, and soon you'll be nodding off. Honest.

Posted by: Nikki at October 16, 2008 2:01 PM

I suggest an archaeology textbook. They worked wonders for me in college. :) There's nothing quite as sleepy-making as 100 pages on sediment.

Posted by: Erin at October 16, 2008 3:47 PM

this entry made me think of this comic: http://xkcd.com/448/ :)

Posted by: SuLo at October 16, 2008 4:23 PM

God, this happens to me all the time. Get up in the middle of the night, can't get back to sleep and so I'm up at the computer until the sun comes up. I'm thinking I'm going to give myself until sunrise then I'm absolutely going to go back to sleep or I'll never make it through the whole day then guess what I'm still at it at sunrise and noon and oh about 3 in the afternoon my brain has ceased to function. I know not to go to sleep or I'll have another restless night. It's a vicious cycle and none too fun.

Posted by: Boomer Chick at October 16, 2008 10:53 PM

here's a guess: try making sure you are well hydrated during the day. I find I sleep better when I have had enough water throughout the day. Also, sounds like you may be taking in more caffeine than you should... back it off a bit... also, as one ages certain times of the month bring insomnia with them (yay) though methinks you are probably too young for that.

Posted by: parrotzmom at October 16, 2008 11:39 PM

If you have allergies, a handy dandy hint my doctor gave me is to switch your daily allergy medicine to Zyrtek, and take it at night. I take it after dinner, and I am yawning by 8 pm, ready to zonk by 11. (And I have always had difficulty trying to get to sleep.) I used to take it right before bed, but I had to wait about an hour before it had the sleepy effect.
Good luck, I hate waking while it's still dark and not being able to get back to sleep.
And Winter Kitties is a FANTASTIC description, as was the deflated balloon similie. My cat does that every night. It helps me fall back asleep if I pet him when I wake when I should be asleep. I've always said I want to come back as a cat in my next life, specifically a cat in a household like mine (or Joshilyn's), and the ability to sleep would be a key reason.

Posted by: Kate at October 16, 2008 11:52 PM

If the text book prescription doesn't work (and it does sound as if archaeology rivals organic chemistry), the other thing I do is to work VERY hard at - nothing. Eyes closed - do not allow mental images to form. Do not allow words to surface, thoughts to cohere. It's when the brain gets going on the hamster wheel that I'm in trouble, so forcing the mind to go blank- very smooth, very black, no more than a ripple across the surface, helps me shut it off and sleep.

Prayer helps, too - so long as you stick to counting blessings and not so much the prayers of concern, as that can be distinctly non-sleep-producing. Or something more Taize, where you repeat a phrase over and over to enter a meditative state (Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom or something else brief). Because once you're calmer, sleep is easier.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at October 17, 2008 2:06 PM

Ahhh fellow insomniac sufferer!

I have come to love me the Tylenol PM, one if I think I'm only going to have a little hard time sleeping, two if I think it's going to be serious.
Also the counting backwards thing usually works for me too. Good luck!

Posted by: Bridget at October 17, 2008 3:14 PM

I'm a little late here, but I've been an insomniac for years and I LOVE Ambien. I know it's prescription, you have to be careful with it, but is doesn't leave me groggy like diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Tylenol PM, Benadryl, Nyquil, etc.)

You just have to be sure to follow the directions exactly - it was a God send for me.

Posted by: Nelson's Mama at October 20, 2008 1:03 PM