Saturday, July 07, 2012

This, that, and the other

I suffer from insomnia. Lately it has become so bad that I signed up to participate in an online insomnia study. To qualify, I completed a questionnaire and submitted to a telephone interview. Then I kept a sleep diary for two weeks, recording what time I got into bed, what time I tried to go to sleep, how long it took to get to sleep, how many times I woke up during the night, how long I was awake, what time I woke up in the morning, what time I got out of bed, etc. Needless to say, my insomnia was worse while recording all this information.

The "meat" of this study consists of two websites for treating insomnia, to determine which one works best. I must have been assigned to the placebo, as it consists of the same tired advice for insomniacs I have been reading for years. It also isn't clear if I am supposed to actually follow any of this advice as part of the study. I already refrain from vigorous exercise and large meals late in the evening, but I'm not going to give up the simple pleasure of reading in bed or get out of bed if I can't fall asleep. They say to stay up until you are sleepy, but don't take daytime naps even if you are sleepy. Oh, yeah? I just took a twenty minute nap and it was delicious.

The website makes no mention of menopause. Sometimes when I wake up at night, it is because of a hot flash. Nor does it ask about pain - sometimes I can't sleep because my hips or shoulders ache. And it does not ask about stress or worry. Like I said, I must be in the placebo group.

One source of stress for me has been my job. I hate, hate, HATE what I was doing. But I am doing it no more. I still work for the same employer but as of July 1 in a different role. Already I can feel the difference - my shoulders are no longer hunched around my ears and one source of inner chatter has quieted down.

An omnipresent worry I have is growing old. Like most people, I know I will die someday but I can't really imagine my own death. I don't have to imagine growing old, though, because it is already happening. In the past six months or so, my body has crossed some invisible line and I can tell I will never be able to cross back. I'm not infirm by any means, but there is a difference.

I also find myself drawn to reading not just memoir, but memoir of old people (and by "old" I mean "older than me"). I just finished I Feel Bad about my Neck by Nora Ephron, am in the middle of This Is Getting Old by Susan Moon, and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen is in the wings.

So I have something to read in bed before going to sleep.