We characterize it as hamsters.  Hamsters trying to chew their way through a tangle of neural networks.  We say “Call if you can’t sleep” and neither of us sleep, but neither of us call, because we don’t want to take the chance of waking the other, if, by some breath of the Gods, the other is sleeping.

Insomnia.  Combine it with dreams, and it is a force that could bring an army to its knees.  There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a torture tool in some places.  Interestingly, while the torturer may think that it will make their captive confess, it will actually just make their captive confess to anything.  Insomnia leads you to an altered perception of reality, of your thoughts, of your feelings, of the importance and normalcy of everything around you.

My father suffered from it for the last years of his life.  He always took something to help him sleep, which bothered me for a while, until I realized that he might as well get a comfortable sleep during his last years – becoming dependent on a sleep aid didn’t matter. 

I find that when I work too much, I am too tired and then I can’t sleep.  After getting home around 10:30 last night, I took a half a Lyrica (the latest in a long line of sleep aids) and settled in to read.  And read.  And read.  I finished Charlatan, which was a wonderful book.  I started The Fall of a Philanderer, which is a light, mindless mystery.  I took the other half of the Lyrica.  Finally, finally, I feel asleep.  Woke up having had a water dream, with Kelsea in it, which inevitably means that some change is about to come.  Didn’t want to know what time it was, laid awake, went back to sleep, and in what felt like an hour, the alarm went off.

I am working now in the surreal haze of exhaustion, looking forward to going home and going to bed.  But there is much to be done before that can happen, and I have Kelsea tonight, and need to exercise, as we are one month from my next trip to the islands, and of course, I want to look like a fit supermodel by then (ha!).  But more on that later.

In case YOU need help sleeping, here are a few little-known insomnia facts:

  • The longest film ever shown was entitled “The Cure for Insomnia” (1987), with a run time of 87 hours.
  • Cows and elephants sleep standing up, but can only dream when lying down.
  • Being awake for 17 hours results in the performance equivalent of a blood alcohol-level of 0.05% – which in Colorado can get you a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired). Trust me on this one.

I suppose it could be worse.  At least I am not suffering from Exploding Head Syndrome, Hypnagogic Jerk, or Night Eating Syndrome.  And while I can come up with some highly entertaining and unwholesome definitions of these disorders, the actual definitions are as follows:

Exploding Head Syndrome – where you hear loud exploding sounds in your head (actually I have had this).  It’s distressing and puzzling, but not painful.

Hypnagogic Jerk – that involuntary movement that happens when you feel you are falling in a dream or as you are drifting off to sleep.  I’m a victim of this, as I’ve been whacked in the nose by a sufferer.

Night Eating Syndrome – binge eating in the middle of the night.  Some are aware that they are doing so, and others are not.  The scale will tell.

 Or Fatal Familial Insomnia, a rare genetic prion disease that causes dementia and death.  (For more about FFI, read “The Family That Couldn’t Sleep” by D.T. Max, available at www.amazon.com).

 But wait — my father couldn’t sleep.  Uh oh.