Thursday, October 05, 2006

Perchance to Dream

I can't sleep. This has been a chronic problem in my life, but it's getting worse. For those of you who are praying types, I'd appreciate your prayers.

I sleep, on average, 3 - 4 hours per night. It's not uncommon to fall asleep at 4:00 a.m. and for the alarm clock to go off at 6:30 a.m. A "good" night of sleep for me is 5 hours.

Here's what I do. I go to bed at a reasonable hour. I exercise like a madman (yes, it's hard to tell, but I hit the treadmill for 4 miles per day at what may look like a leisurely stroll, but which is a pretty brisk clip for someone with 16-inch legs). And I've cut way, way back on caffeine, limiting myself to 2 cups of coffee per day, and nothing after noon. And I still can't sleep. I simply can't turn off my brain.

So I'm chronically exhausted. There are times when I'm trying to have a conversation with someone and I'm literally so tired that I can't form words. And I'm a words kind of guy. In other words, this is interfering with life. I'm able to focus at work, except during the several passing phases every day where I just want to lay my head down on my keyboard. But this is frowned upon, so I don't. I do my best to have normal social interactions with my family and friends, but there are many times when I know I'm on autopilot, not able to fully engage with people I'd honestly like to engage with fully.

Life is stressful, but it's always stressful. This is what comes of working a fulltime gig and a couple of part-time writing gigs. And I'm not willing to give up the part-time gigs. But I'd surely like to sleep. Anybody have any suggestions? Prayers are welcome.


mommy zabs said...

will be praying. i hate to be a pusher, but have you tried andy ambien cr or anything? maybe just for a week or something to get yourself back in a healthy rhythm? have you gone to the dr.

jackscrow said...

Don't wait. Go to the doctor. If you don't have one, ask around.

Are you overweight?

Could be sleep apnia.

Or you could be depressed.

Or you could have a sinus infection.

Or a bad back.

Or all four at once.

No kidding, all of these things either separately or together can be the cause of these symptoms.

Combined with stress, any of these can be extremely dangerous to your health. Or life.

chelsea said...

you could try a sleep clinic. maybe if you saw your family doctor and got him to refer you it would be covered by insurance?

anyway... there are people who deal with sleep and only with sleep all the time.

also... my brother saw a naturopath that he loved and helped him tremendously who also works with an out of this world chiropractor named jeff hudson. i could get you the name...

not to be too personal but since you've written about it on here... are you on something for depression? does it deal with anxiety too?

and lastly... have you seen sheila? come on... everybody is doing it. jump on board. seriously though... she has this crazy vision that she'd be able to lay hands on people and ask for healing for their minds. and i have seen it working dramatically over she's just really wise and direct and kind and what could it hurt?

and lastly for real this time... see to it (and i'll try to help) that some people pray for you directly at church on sunday.

Andy Whitman said...

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.

Just to answer a few random questions, yes, I'm overweight. I'm trying (hence the four-mile trudge on the treadmill every day), but my genes and a tendency to eat compulsively (look, I've given up just about every other major vice, dammit) conspire against me. Yes, I know about sleep apnea. Yes, I have sleep apnea. Yes, I've been to a sleep clinic. Yes, I have a CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine that blows a gale of air into my nostrils all night long, and which, in theory, helps with the sleep apnea. And yes, I get to wear a cute little mask with a long plastic tube for a snout all night long. The Elephant Man look. Very romantic.

No, I'm not currently taking anything for depression. Yes, I have in the past. I don't think I'm depressed, though. I'm fairly attuned to the signs, and, really, other than not sleeping, I'm a pretty happy guy these days.

No, I haven't seen Sheila professionally, although I've talked with her informally. I'm certainly not opposed to that idea. And if God wants to work miraculously in this situation, I'd welcome that.

I'll be out of town this weekend, but I'll certainly seek out prayer the following Sunday.

Thanks for the comments/prayers/advice, everyone. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

My opinion: anyone like you who is trying to do an honest day's work at the day job, work that many writing gigs that I know you love but nevertheless carry their own deadlines, be a good husband and father to one teenager and one in college, is going to experience STRESS. Stress tends to keep one awake at night. So, whatever works for you as far as relieving stress, make sure you do it before going to bed. Run 4 miles while drinking lots of Scotch, or whatever. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Andy, when I had this problem last year my doctor wanted to prescibe Ambien or some other sleep med. Due to family reasons, I didn't want that in the house. He suggested I try Melatonin, which is a hormone our body produces and which regulates our sleep cycle. I take that and am usually asleep within 15-20 minutes, and sleep through the night. It's over the counter, and may be worth a shot. Just my two cents. (Oh, and I'm not one of those health nuts/natural everything kind of people. Actually, I'm probably a lot like you; overweight, late 40s, eat too much, etc.)

Mike G.

Anonymous said...

i had trouble sleeping for awhile and took an herb called maraj....wait...valerian. it helped a great deal.

axegrinder said...


Try cutting out caffeine completely. Some people are really sensitive to it. Coffee, soda, whatever. It may take some time to get over the withdrawl as it leaves your system.

Jason Kranzusch

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry your experiencing the pain of sleeplessness. I've suffered from some sort of situational insomnia at different times in my life since I was 10 years old. I'm currently fighting off a bout of it (stress, anxiety, etc) and it does take it's toll. Sometimes I can't sleep because I'm excited about something I am thinking about. It's been hard for me to be able to explain to Jaime how much my mind just keeps going and it can be a bit frustrating to try to communicate that sleeplessness and indepth thoughtfullness can sometimes, for some people, just go hand in hand. I don't know how to combat it either, other than getting the thoughts out, finding the right people to dialogue with. It seems that you have found this, in part, with your writing and conversations about music. I'm wondering if the things that are on your mind are things that you currently have an outlet to process. If you are laying in bed thinking about music, well, I'm not sure there is anymore "getting it out there" that you can do. But if your thinking about something else, like lawncare (something I know you don't think about at all), then you might need to find some venue to talk about those things. I'm finding that when my thoughts don't have a place to land, in real life, with real people...they just get stuck up there and block a whole lot of things. I'll lie in bed for hours thinking about the solar panel I want to put on my garage and wondering if it's possible to get some energy from the sun in cloudy Columbus, and until I find some other energy conscious treehugger, I'll probably continue to lie awake at night.
I too am praying for you.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Dear Andy,
I've been there with insomnia, too. Make sure you're not working out in the evening. It raises the core temperature and you can't sleep with a hot core. (Hmm. That sounds weird). And I'd cut out the caffeine completely. Especially if your two cups are like tarry rocket sauce. The half-life of caffeine in the body is 9 hours--so it takes 18 hours to get rid of it all...which takes you pretty far into the night. I have been caffeine free for 11 years now, and am very careful with chocolate, too, which is loaded.

My other sleep buddy is Benadryl. Pop a couple as you lay down to read and see what happens. It's a cheap OTC sleep aid, pretty innocuous and most importantly non-addictive. Good luck. I picked up Paste today without noting the byline and knew in two lines it was one of your pieces (about the TVZandt movie). Good work!

Anonymous said...

My two cents: Lots-o-liquor!

Anonymous said...

make sure you don't exercise too close to bedtime