28 May, 2022


I don’t want to see “Insomnia” on my death certificate. OK; technically, I won’t see my death certificate at all, but you know what I mean. I think I’m going to be 20 years dead before I am caught up on lost sleep, and I don’t mean that to be funny; in fact, the whole idea of it makes me very sad.

Yes, I do a lot of things that help, and yoga has shaken up a lot of my assumptions, almost to the point of an existential crisis. Most of the things I do that help are medical, though, and the rest are practical. Yoga is I-don’t-know-what, and it’s throwing me.

I’m told—by one of my yoga teachers, not the least of the group—that I intellectualize too much. My family—my Jewish family—once had a dinner table discussion for nearly half an hour regarding the plural, assuming that someday one were ever necessary, of “virgin Mary.” I held out for “virgins Mary,” but my mother thought it should be “virgin Maries.” My father was more practical. He thought it should be “virgins Mary” by fiat, just to avoid the spelling issues of “Maries/Marys.”

I really do worry sometimes that I’m going to unsleep myself into an early grave. That maybe we are born with a finite number of waking hours, and I’ll use up mine early.

And that was typical of dinner table conversations.

Of course I intellectualize to much. It’s what I do. It’s what I was brought up to do.

Is it why I don’t sleep? I don’t know. Am I up all night worrying about irregular plurals? I might be, but my parents slept just fine.

Yes, my brain and I are at war, but it doesn’t happen to everyone raised by people with PhDs. What’s special about me?

I have a highly developed guilt complex, but so do a lot of Jews, including the large swath raised by people with PhDs. Again, what is special about me? Recessive genes? I guess there could be other forms of heritable insomnia, other than Fatal Familial Insomnia. My brother has his own sleep problems.

On the other hand, I suppose if I have some heritable form of insomnia, then my “early” death won’t be—it’ll be more or less a foregone fact. But believing that means giving up hope that there will ever be a solution to the headaches and bodyaches and grief of being tired all the time.

And yoga is an even bigger puzzle. Since I have been taking at least 4 classes (which is to say, 4 hours) a week, I sleep most of the night. I’ll sleep 4 or 5 hours, and get up for a bit, do some things, like laundry, dishes, cleaning the fishtanks, then often get another hour right before getting up to coffee and breakfast.

If I take 6 or more classes in a week, I sleep through the night, getting 6 to 7 hours of sleep, which seems to be enough for me.

That’s 6 yoga classes, along with all the medications, the pillow cooler, the weighted blanket, the black-out blinds, the white noise, and the temperature of the room carefully controlled. Yoga doesn’t work all by itself. One the other hand, I have not needed a PRN in a very long time.

Published by Chava Freya

Insomnia is a brain-based disorder I’ve had since I was at least 16 years old. Anti-anxiety medicine doesn’t help, except when there’s external anxiety exacerbating the problem. Sleep hygiene is irrelevant, because it’s not the problem, although I have submitted to it five different times, including having sleep specialists actually come to my home and advise me on rearranging furniture, buying special pillows, forbidding TVs in the bedroom, telling me the bed was for nothing but sleep, sex and reading, and when that didn’t work, then nothing but sleep. Period. That was the biggest failure of all.

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