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A Night Inside My Mind as I Try to Fall Asleep With Insomnia

My body feels restless, and my mind wanders. I count sheep, but I run out of numbers. I focus on my breathing, but feel no less tired. I get up and pace. My muscles begin to grow weary, but my mind won’t stop. I took my sleep medication hours ago, which doesn’t work tonight. I take another dose of my pain medicine because I feel an ache accompanied by the sharpness of returning pain. But my mind won’t quiet itself.

The world seems still. I listen to the rain pound on the window and the air conditioning rumble. I focus on my husband’s still body and listen to him breathe. It soothes me, but sleep continues to evade me. I move to the recliner, thinking it’s the position of my body that’s preventing me from sleeping. I’m comfortable, but I’m not tired. I turn on the TV and watch a movie. The minutes and hours tick by, and I remain awake to see the clock hands turn.

I use all the skills I know to help me relax. I focus on my breathing and listen to a guided meditation. I am still awake. I go through a progressive muscle relaxation exercise, and my body goes limp. But I am awake. I count to 100 and to zero and to 100 again. I am still awake.

I feel isolated and helpless. It feels like I am the only person conscious in the whole world. I am alone. I long for sleep, knowing that this sweet escape at night will make me a happier and healthier person to be around tomorrow. But it is out of my control. I am in control of everything, my environment, my behavior, and my mind — but not my insomnia. I can focus my thoughts, but not on sleep. I can make myself cozy and comfortable — but not enough to sleep. I can control how I breathe and how I relax my body, but not enough to sleep.

Sleep evades me, but it is the one thing I long for — the purpose of the night. My cat crawls on my chest. He sleeps. He soothes me, and usually, this works to help me fall into slumber. But tonight, he is a weight that reminds me of the restlessness within.

Time moves so slowly. The first half of the night crawls. 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m. As light starts to creep into my window, I know the rest of the early morning will move quickly. All of a sudden, my alarm will go off as I anticipate the sound. Finally, I am tired, but sleep will have to wait.

Getty image by Red Stock.

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