Insomnia I Can’t Sleep with You

I’m tired.  So tired.

I need sleep.  So, what’s the problem?

The solution is simple.  Really?

Just go to bed and go to sleep.  Hmmm…

I have always been a bad sleeper.  More significantly, I am a worrier.  I prefer warrior.

I’ve learned to manage it (sort of).  Routine.  Routine.  Routine.

The human body functions at its optimum when it is governed by a strict routine.  I know!  Boring!

I’ve had a really bad week.  The nights feel like they are a hundred hours long.

Insomnia, I believe, is the triumph of the mind over the mattress. I’m competitive by nature.  So I’m fighting to regain control.  Otherwise, insomnia wins.  No.  No.  No. Insomnia, I can’t sleep with you.


Before my accident, it was easier to cope with a restless, ruffled mind in the middle of the night.

This quote sums it all up perfectly:

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying.”

Things are different now.  I wish…

When I was younger, it was the worry that got me, not the lack of sleep.  What’s the point of worrying about something you cannot do anything about at two o’clock in the morning?  Huh Tracy?  But, how to stop?

Now, the worry and the lack of sleep get me.  Life happens when I cannot sleep.

As I’m wheeled down the passage in my Lazyboy recliner, I dread the hour-long tiresome ritual of getting me ready for bed every night.  Yes.  I know.  It’s my own fault.  I am pedantic.  And particular about my personal hygiene and schedules.

I try to switch off by watching mind-numbing rubbish on TV whilst my care assistants are busy.  But, it still means having a pair of human hands, often roughly, invading my personal space which is not always so easy to ignore.  I wouldn’t mind so much if my Comrades legs invaded my personal space (a little roughly) from time to time.  Hmmm now that’s an idea!

My nighttime routine, added to heaped-up frustration from a solid day’s confinement, usually leaves me feeling highly irritated and filled with despair.  Try having someone else brush your teeth.  And I don’t mean your oral hygienist.  And bath you.  And dress you.  And feed you.  And… Aaarrrggghhh!

Eventually I am left lying motionless – on my side – in the dark – alone with my thoughts.  Most nights I pop a sleeping pill and manage to sink into temporary oblivion for a good few hours.  Just.

This week the wicked-insomnia-monster managed to invade my psyche in all its despicable, colossal glory.  An insomnia ogre is a gross feeder.  It nourishes itself on thinking – fueled even more by thinking about not thinking.  Somehow, it gets me to replay disturbing, tragic events  over and over again on the big screen behind my eye-forced-shut-lids.

My 80-year-old paralyzed-from-the-neck-down body also decided to go into Alzheimer’s mode and completely forget how to go to sleep.  I was dying of thirst.  I was hot.  Then cold.  My nose itched.  And my head.  Excruciating torture!

My internal organs chose to mess with me.  My stomach was sore, bloated, cramping and uncomfortable.  It’s full of shit as usual.  Yes, I know.  Typical woman.  Don’t even say it!

The only comfort, when going to bed, is the rough, male kiss of the blanket resting on my neck.  Well, when kisses are a rare occurrence, it calls for desperate measures.  Doesn’t it?

It’s amazing how a double-bed-made-for-sex-love-and-intimacy can become such a lonely, desolate place with an all-consuming emptiness as the dark Knight takes possession of my being.  Sheesh remind me to stay away from the tall-dark-and-mysterious types in future.

I could hear my care assistant’s heavy breathing – and snoring – in the adjoining room.  Why is it that people who snore always seem to fall asleep first? 

I called out irritably for her to turn over.  Sheesh no wonder I cannot sleep!

It didn’t help.

My bed has become a bundle of paradoxes – I go to it with reluctance (mostly) and leave it with regret, sometimes.  Although bed can be a reprieve from a day of physical torment for me, it can be my emotional hell.  Sometimes, I fall asleep minutes before I have to get up and then I’m annoyed when my care assistant wakes me up.  Other times, I lie awake for hours, clock-watching and listening for the quiet movements of my care assistants getting up – wishing for them to hurry up.  I need to get the hell out of this damn bed!

Try lying in exactly the same position all night long without moving anything, not waggling a finger or wriggling a toe.  No repositioning.  No fidgeting.  Nothing. C’mon I dare you!

Sleep is as perverse as human nature.  Often, the repose of sleep refreshes the body but not the mind.  Sleep can be like a slice of death.  But, there is still nothing like a good laugh and a deep, long sleep as balm for the troubled soul.

Without enough sleep I feel like an emotional, temper-tantrum-throwing two-year-old, on the inside, who yearns to fling herself onto the floor, kicking and screaming like a woman gone mad.  I’m grossly-grumpy, insanely-tearful and oh-so-sorry-for-myself.  Beware!


Do you suffer from insomnia sometimes?  How do you deal with it?

About Tracy Todd (Brave Lotus Flower)

Author of Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon – an intimate and inspiring memoir of a quadriplegic. Inspirational Speaker. Teacher. Counsellor. Wife. Mother. Animal lover. Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly not what defines me.
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21 Responses to Insomnia I Can’t Sleep with You

  1. Generally I don’t learn article on blogs, however I would like to say that
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  4. Bill Watson says:

    I had insomnia so bad at onetime I was afraid to try to get to sleep. I am an intense person – type A – high A before I spent 6 years in the bush in Swaziland – now I am a low A but still an A. My insomnia lessened a lot after I retired. The job I had was 24/7 – always on call – always responsible. When ever I have a flare up of insomnia now I take 1/2 an Ambien and that usually puts me down for about 7 hours. A whole one wipes me out and leaves me weird the next day – 1/2 doesn’t do that to me. Insomnia can be a wicked enemy.

  5. Guy McLaren says:

    Insomnia is my companion on occassion. I normally get up and do some coding, two to three hours is enough to make me sleep well for a few hours. These days I take a nap when I am feeling tired and work when I can’t sleep.

  6. Pingback: Life Is a Holiday | Tracy Todd's Blog

  7. Pingback: Who’s Worthy? « Tracy Todd's Blog

  8. Farouk says:

    ive got a different problem with insomnia,
    i always sleep when feeling worried or bad but i never manage to sleep when i am excited !!

  9. Giulietta says:

    Hi Tracy,

    I can relate to your insomnia as I’ve experienced it. Sometimes it’s caused by euphoria – I had an essay published and I reread the words in my mind; others times it’s caused by angst – a situation I need to take care of in person has arisen — Now, even though I can get up, I rarely do. Even though we are feeling quite awake, I’m guessing we are not really. I’ve tried in the past to get up and read and it just made me tired. Yet, not enough to rest my mind.

    Another gorgeous post! Like these words.

    “This week the wicked-insomnia-monster managed to invade my psyche in all its despicable, colossal glory. An insomnia ogre is a gross feeder. It nourishes itself on thinking – fueled even more by thinking about not thinking.”

    Honestly, you could write a beyond amazing book. Look forward to buying it if you do.


  10. nancy smith says:

    thinking of you. fighting a uti here.

  11. Anton says:

    Insomnia is arguably one of the very worst disorders around. Lately I have been going through an enormous amount of stress, all of it on a personal level. For some peculiar reason I always wake at 03h17 – and not even CNN can get me to fall asleep again. I despise drugs of any sort, so I try to tough it out. Fortunately I get by with very little sleep, but every so often I succumb and take a sleeping pill before going to bed. The next morning I invariably feel as if I have ten hangovers…

  12. Dear, sweet fox:
    I have periods of insomnia, and periods where sleep is easy. If you are like me, the difficult periods are related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in your case from the accident (12 years isn’t long in PTSD), in my case from the childhood abuse (which ended 40 years ago, though I still experience hyper-vigilance from it).

    The challenge is one of mind over matter. You may be unable to achieve peace of mind by the traditional means (striving/competition). As backward as it sounds you cannot relax by trying to do so. To really sleep, you must surrender, and I know you are not one to surrender easily. Therefore, if you prefer a method that involves effort, you might try actually willing your body to sleep – inch by inch – from the top of your head downward, or from the soles of your feet up. Mentally talk yourself through the journey from awareness into sleep. Go slowly, relaxing each small area. It’s an auto-hypnosis method. It makes no difference that your brain does not ordinarily process the sensory signals from the distant regions. It’s still alive and sending information.

    Over more time you can tackle the bigger problem of inner peace.

    I wish you all the best, and a deep, deep sleep with extraordinary dreams.

  13. I’ve lived with chronic pain for years, and insomnia for decades. It still remains the beast that affects everything, which you so poignantly and painfully describe.

    What I have never had to live with is the situation that you are in daily and nightly. To say that I admire your courage is an understatement. And it seems simplistic and insufficient.

    I know what it is to go for very very long periods of time without touch, and by that I mean the tenderness of another adult’s kiss, or simply something as eloquent as the touch of a cheek. The bed does indeed become a place where every sort of demon meets when you cannot sleep – desire, rage, frustration, fear, sorrow,

    I know the world is a darker place and I am at diminished capacity when my sleep disappears. And I am grateful when it returns – even to a level of 5 hours/night which is at least enough to function, to parent, to write.

    I wish you a gentle return of sleep. May the insomnia monster takes his demonic self elsewhere, and leave you to peaceful, beautiful, pleasurable dreams.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      I’m so sorry for the pain that you have to live with Wolf. I know that pain can be really debilitating. Thank you for your lovely comment. I’ve been spending more time just meditating and that seems to be giving me more peaceful nights. I tend to multitask with my brain like other people multitask with their hands and that seems to overstimulate my mind and then I struggle to sleep.

  14. Tracy, you have done a powerful job here of describing the destructive effects of insomnia. I am lucky to be a generally sound sleeper and I know how badly I feel after one night of poor sleep. I can’t imagine how infuriating it must be for insomnia to be the routine rather than the exception.

    Wishing you a long night of peaceful slumber.

  15. Mynie says:

    I know my friend! The nights are so long… , sometimes hell! Eczema on the scalp, itching, sweating, unable to scratch… , no sleep – you know it so well.
    You’re blog is so good for me, thank you! x

  16. Cathy says:

    I suffer from insomnia. I don’t worry, but I can’t shut my brain off. It’s horrible. And the anxiety leading up to bedtime is even worse. How do I deal with it? Medicate. That’s all I can do. The effects of insomnia are far worse than being reliant on ambien, wine or the like. I will say, however, that your post has given me some perspective on the whole “not being able to move” thing. When I’m unable to sleep I am painfully aware of every toss and turn for fear of waking the husband. He wouldn’t mind (much) but I am the one concerned. And, it further adds to my anxiety.

    I am visiting from over at Daily Plate of Crazy. Nice to meet you.

  17. Grief, I wanna weep for you just reading this. For the energy-concept averse, they’d better stop reading right now. 😉 However, the eastern take would have an explanation for the extreme sleeplessness. Some people are dramatically affected by lunar cycles. This week led up to a potent full moon cum spring equinox on the 23rd (Thursday). Those energies can play havoc in receptive minds. I hope it was just that. And that as the next 12 hours ease in, you’ll sleep like a (peaceful) baby. Hugs.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Well Clive I sincerely hope that I am one of those who has been affected by the moon this week and hopefully I can go back to sleeping peacefully again. Thanks for your comment. Hugs to you too. 🙂

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