Sleeplessness is a slow, maddening torture. And insomnia is a torture that, I would imagine, many of us are suffering under the weight of these days — especially with all of the stress and anxiousness that the events of 2020 have heaped upon us all.
I spent many years of my adult life struggling with a slowly but gradually worsening level of insomnia — a struggle that became most pronounced in the year leading up to and the year following a very emotional and energy-draining divorce process.
Not coincidentally, this is also the same period of time during which my alcohol overuse became most pronounced.
Now, I’m absolutely not here to focus on the alcohol-induced part of all this, BUT… since reports of alcohol use and alcohol-related issues have been on the rise this year, ever since COVID, ever since quarantine, ever since the resultant dramatic increase in our collective sense of isolation… well, I will say this:
Probably one of the deepest, darkest, sneakiest trap-door pits that alcohol can send you careening into is the pit of insomnia, my friends, because at the very same time that you are becoming psychologically reliant upon the comforting numbness and emotionally anesthetizing effects of alcohol, you are also strapping yourself into the hurtling roller coaster ride of alcohol’s effects on your blood sugar.
And the result is this:
You become psychologically dependent upon alcohol to deaden your mind and quiet your thoughts enough to fall asleep, and YET… as you lie in bed, as your body processes and metabolizes the alcohol in your bloodstream, the resultant spikes and drops in your blood sugar actually PREVENT you from getting the deep, quality sleep you need. In fact, those blood sugar changes are actually the CAUSE of those incessant 3am wake-ups you start having, the ones that leave you so restless and awful-feeling that the rest of your night is basically shot to hell. Unless you down a bunch of alcohol again. And thus begins the cycle again. And you still never get the deep rejuvenating sleep that you really need for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Anyway, it sucks. But, of course, as we all know, alcohol isn’t the only cause of insomnia. It just makes the experience so much worse.
Even before my journey into teetotaling began, though, even from very young childhood, I had my fair share of experiences with stress-related and circular-thinking-induced sleeplessness as well — being a pretty classic Type-A personality, an overthinker, an analytical mind, and a worrier by nature. I mean, I remember worrying about various things that were happening in my life even at the tender age of 5 years old, y’all. Yep, I was an overachiever, even in the anxiousness department.
(Sidenote: A lot of those overthinking/analytical-mind qualities were what made the escapism of drunkenness so appealing to me, when I finally experienced that mind state for the first time. But that’s another story.)
Anyway, I was thinking the other day about how it used to feel, being locked in that cycle of sleeplessness, the hopeless feeling it induced, and for some reason, a bit of lyricism struck me (set to the tune of “Summer Nights” from the movie “Grease,” of all things).
And I was inspired to complete these parody lyrics as a little nod (pun intended) to a time in my life that was a true BEAR of a struggle, but that I am conquering. Because sleep is a frontier that I continue to take back, to take ownership of, to fall into the healing arms of, one night at a time.
So here is my little creation, entitled “O-Oh, Those Sleepless Ni-iiiights: An Insomniac’s Anthem,” and including a YouTube video featuring a totally pawsome a capella rendition of the piece by my oh-so-sweet vocalist assistant, BunnyKitty:
LYRICS: ♪ Darkness falls, inky and vast. ♪ I crawl in bed, but sleep won't come fast. ♪ I toss and turn, but never go deep. ♪ Nothing works, even counting sheep. ♪ For zzz's I pray, as in my bed I lay ♪ On o-oh, those sleepless ni-iiiights. ♫ Sleep's a chore, even a snore ♫ I just cannot achieve. ♫ Por favor, nevermore! ♫ I just want a reprieve. ♪ 3am -- I stare at my phone. ♪ Alarm clock mocks me; I let out a groan. ♪ Have to get up, in less than 2 hours. ♪ If only I had... sleepy-time superpowers! ♪ Feeling restless and tight, my tensions ignite ♪ On o-oh, those sleepless ni-iiiights. ♫ Thoughts they race, as zzz's I chase, ♫ Circling 'round in my head. ♫ Worries displace my sense of grace ♫ And leave me brimming with dread. ♪ Blinking up, at my ceiling fan. ♪ Can I bear it? Don't know if I can. ♪ Insomnia, you insidious mess, ♪ Leaving me nothing but distress. ♪ Morning sun says the new day's begun, ♪ Ending o-oh my sleepless ni-iiiight.
As I said, the VERY good thing is that I don’t feel stuck in that anthem anymore.
But if any of that rings true for you, and it’s something you’re struggling with right now, you’re soooooo not alone, love. And there are steps you can take.
As part of my efforts over the years to beat my insomnia struggles — in addition to embracing sobriety — I spent a lot of time learning about how the brain works and researching and trying various techniques for getting more high-quality sleep.
I can’t say that I’ve tried everything, but I’ve certainly tried a lot, and being the type of person who embraces the odd, the quirky, and the weird, I’ve maybe tried some things that you’ve never even heard of. I definitely tried a few things that I never thought would work but that did!
And in the spirit of giving back, I’m in the process of putting together an online course filled with all the MOST helpful tips and tricks I picked up along the way, as well as some useful techniques that I created myself and that helped me a lot in getting back on track.
Of course, in true Trish style, this course will be infused with all the pizzazz, flavor, and spirit of my “Not Socially Acceptable” Life (Un)-Learning Academy, since that’s where I’ll be creating and hosting it.
Keep an eye out for more info here about the upcoming launch of the course, “How to Sleep Your Way to the Top: A Field Guide for Those Who Just Aren’t Getting Enough,” or, if you’re super impatient like me, go ahead and get on the wait-list now at NotSociallyAcceptable.Life. 😜