In recent years, I have had occasional bouts of insomnia, most lasting only a single night and then forgotten, but some lasting for several frightful days. You may remember this incident from the spring of 2008:

I should note here that for about a decade I've been popping a daily Ativan, supplementing it with your basic drug-store sleep aids as needed. Two of the latter would normally suffice. But they no longer have any effect on me: one night I polished off half a dozen of them, and washed them down with a swig of NyQuil, to no avail.

The result of this failure was nothing less than sheer terror. I'd lie there for whatever time period, and suddenly it would dawn on me: This isn't going to work, is it? My heart raced, pounded, eventually subsided, but there would be no rest for me that night.

Friday night I got a reprieve. It didn't last. Saturday night, despite above-average physical activity for the day, found me up almost until dawn. I managed a couple of brief catnaps Sunday afternoon, then, a dose of Ambien notwithstanding, betook myself to the emergency room.

The latter, of course, was an act of sheer desperation, since the only guaranteed result is a bill for four figures. That in itself, I reckon, is enough to cause sleeplessness. They dealt me a quantity of an antipsychotic, off-label of course it's usually prescribed for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder which didn't actually improve matters.

Eventually, fatigue caught up with me, and I settled on a nightly cocktail of two drugs with "May Cause Drowsiness" on the label, one of them actually intended to do so. It worked on and off; the "off," perhaps, was due to interaction between one of the drugs and my existing antihypertensive.

In the five years since, there have been further single-night incidents, though none lasting longer, and no trips to the ER. The nightly cocktail is up to three tablets, though one of them is a simple NSAID. One unexpected development, however, is the Sleep Superstition: it is now a given, for instance, that I will get little or no sleep the night after mowing the lawn. I can't think of any reason why this should be true: it's a good half-mile walk in the front yard, nearly a mile in the back, and you'd think this would tire me out. It certainly seems to tire me out while it's going on. But I've adjusted: I mow on Friday and Saturday only, because it doesn't matter so much whether I get any sleep on the weekend.

More mysterious, perhaps, is the distribution of incidents: most of them fall on Sunday and Wednesday. Sunday I can understand, since the dread prospect of Monday is looming, but why Wednesday? It's often the worst day of the work week, but, as with the mowing, you'd think that would make me tired.

And for some reason, around 10 pm, when I should be shutting down the brain for the night, I seem to start new projects. It's almost like I'm daring insomnia to descend upon me. Somehow this seems counterproductive.

The Vent

  9 September 2013

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 Copyright © 2013 by Charles G. Hill