Getting to the heart of insomnia

Published 10:48 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

I have insomnia. I’ve had it since my sophomore year in college. As an artist I used to feel that if I fell asleep, I’d miss out on some great idea for my work. I’ve had periods when I’ve gone days without a wink of sleep. Over the years I’ve learn to function on a modicum of rest. But it’s still a pain in the butt.

Everyone who hears about my little problem likes to offer some sort of remedy. “Oh, you should try warm milk at night.” “Oh you should take a walk before bed.” “Take a long drive or sit on a running washing machine before bed.” There have even been those who’ve suggested sniffing some sort of plant, the name of which escapes me, that supposedly induces sleepiness.

To all of you who have offered advice, I’ve tried your ideas. They don’t work. And for the person who suggested the warm milk, I’m lactose intolerant, so that’s just trading one problem for another.

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I mention my insomnia now, because I am currently in the middle of a bout with the beast. I’ve had no good sleep in almost a week. And being reintroduced to sleepless nights gives me a chance to get caught up on my late-night infomercials, reading or hanging out late night at the 7-11. It has also given me a chance to research insomnia online.

So I found myself on the Web site for AmbienCR, a medication for those with insomnia. (Don’t bother to recommend it; I’ve already tried it… Nothing.)

In reading about the causes of insomnia, I came across this statement: “There is no single cause of insomnia. It could be due to a medical condition or medicine you are taking. It could be caused by things you do, such as travel, or what you eat and drink…or simply because you are getting older.”

So many causes, so little time. That’s just great news for me. So I began to compare the causes of insomnia against my own proclivities. Here’s what I have so far:

4Medical condition or medicine: I’m a diabetic with hypertension and high cholesterol. I’m on enough medication to open a clinic inside my chest. So that cause could take a while to decipher.

4Travel: I take a lot of road trips. So I will cut back on the road and that should lead me to bed. Got it.

4Food and drink: That could be a problem because I have consumed everything in the world — twice. So narrowing that down would literally take the rest of my life.

So I guess I should spend my sleepless nights figuring out this whole thing. For all you out there suffering from the same affliction as me, just remember to analyze these same causes, and maybe you’ll get to sleep. But until we can figure it out, I’ll see you at the Slurpee machine at 7-11.