Tired of being tired.

I mean, how hard is it? Close eyes, breathe rhythmically for eight hours, open eyes, get up. I’ve been doing it since the womb.

But no more, at least not for the last decade. I think it started when I turned forty, this business of waking up at 2 am to pee and wander around and eat some cereal and then go back to bed and stare at the ceiling and think about all things that could be wrong with my body and my bank account and then read some more from a book I only read in the middle of the night and then punch the stupid pillow and flip it over and flip the one under it over and then straighten the sheets and then kick them off again and then ask Jenny in a low voice if she’s awake to which she mutters back something inaudible and flips the other direction so I read some more, and then realize it’s eight o’clock and I am late and feel like someone shagcarpeted my mouth and poured maple sauce into my eye sockets, and my Kindle is wedged under my cheek and has debossed a rectangular frame into my face which will last there till midmorning and there’s not really time for a shower but living without one is inconceivable and the dogs are looking at me like I have committed crimes against caninity by making them wait this long for a walk and I know the day ahead is bound to feel like my head is wrapped in a blanket dunked in plaster, but so it goes. At least, thank God, Nighttime is over.

This lovely experience can be mine for the reliving twice a week. No guarantees, though. Sometimes I can sleep perfectly for six days at a time. At others, I hopscotch through a weeklong minefield of insomnia. My doctor said to try skipping caffeine after breakfast — which doesn’t make any discernible difference. My grandfather, the doctor, lived to be 98 by prescribing himself a valium and a shot of brandy before bed every night. I think my mum does something similar. I am very drug averse (see my essay on my time as a junky) so most nights, I just tough it out, and let the hours tick by in the darkness.

In my twenties, I could easily sleep till mid afternoon but that changed  when Jack was born. Even if he didn’t stir all night, I would still startle awake thinking he was choking or screaming or all too quiet. and then do the whole staring-at-the-ceiling-thinking-about-cancer-and-the-IRS thing. These days, Jack is asleep on the other side of the country, but my sleep pattern is permanently damaged. I fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow, then bounce back at the slightest disturbance.

My neighborhood is an asshole magnet. Assholes visit the bars on West 3rd Street and on MacDougal and Bleecker and then they are drawn to the pavement under my building, to sing songs from the ’90s and fight over where they parked the car. Asshole couples make a point of breaking up on my corner. There must be a Yelp review that recommends it as the place to vomit and cry and scream and catalog slights and infidelities, slap and claw faces, pull hair, key cars, and then have make-up sex. Thumbs up!

Current events inspire the assholes too. Any kind of sporting event (football, rugby, ping pong, darts) needs to be celebrated loudly, late into the night, and, of course, on my corner. Last night, after the defeat of the AHCA, an asshole kept screaming, “Obama is still President!” over and over.  That’s what woke us up at 2:30. “Obama is still President!” Normally that would be a dream come true. Last night it was a fucking nightmare.

Fortunately, it’s Saturday and I am going to take an afternoon nap on the couch. I need to rest up because tonight I’m going out with friends to some other neighborhood and get really, really drunk, scream a lot in the street, throw up, pass out in the gutter and finally catch up on my sleep.


PS Please don’t leave me any helpful suggestions for how to sleep better. They just make me anxious and inflame my hypochondria. Thanks.

19 thoughts on “Tired of being tired.”

  1. OK, this is not a “how to sleep better” suggestion, but it is about something to listen to while you’re awake at night. I have terrible insomnia, but I’ve found the podcast “Sleep With Me” on Feral Audio to be a fine audio companion in the middle of the night when I need to distract my mind from all the “Why can’t I sleep?” questions. It’s quirky, amusing, and strangely effective.

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  2. I’m exhausted reading about those lousy nights – think I will go take a nap! Hope the next week is better!

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  3. No helpful tips as I know how bloody infuriating they can be..but maybe a hopeful comment Danny. I was fourteen years on an average of one and a half to two hours sleep a night..sleep clinics etc no help. No wonder sleep deprivation is used as torture! I was told it is cyclical..and for 2 years now am back to reasonable sleep..so hopefully yours will pass soon too and you’ll having sweet dreams 🙂

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  4. Yep. Only I live in Labrador in a town of five hundred souls and quite a few dogs. So not so many assholes (or at least not the ones found out doors – they’d be asshole-sickles if they tried that in this climate). Because I’m in a tonne of pain as I await my new hip (six sleeps from now) I am on good drugs. Also, I finally dealt with my taxes – so there’s that. But I know when I go off the drugs (two weeks after my operation is my plan) it’ll be back to one night in four of sleep. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting anything. As a long-time meditator, a person who can count (sheep), who has stopped caffeine from time to time, I know better. This is between you and your pillow – mano et fluffo – you’ll have to duke it out alone.

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  5. I’m so sorry…and I soooo relate! I hate how randomly this hits. My sound sleep ended with hot-flashes that didn’t cease after the usual “few years”. Thirteen yrs later, they’ve morphed into night sweats and a baby bladder. Just when I get despairing, I have a few weeks of relief, sleeping well and somehow sleep-walking through the 2am pee break. But after a feast of days or even a few weeks feeling human and alive again, the Sleep Terminator returns….”I’m baaaccccckkkkkk”.

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  6. Obama is President again (yesterday)! I like that!
    I’m just starting that insomnia thing at 75! I thought it was normal older person thing! I know I do myself in by getting on my screen phone in the middle of the night as it’s been proven to disrupt sleep. My bad!
    No tips from me. Wishing us both sweet dreams!

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  7. I can sympathize because after a lifetime of no sleep issues, it all went to hell in November. Not only is that asshole in the White House trying to wreck the country, the anger and anxiety his escapades have awakened in me are fucking with my sleep. If it’s any consolation, your post made me laugh. Hope you get this worked out.

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  8. I draw at night until I get so sleepy, the TV program that’s on makes no sense. Then I can sleep straight through. Don’t know about you but I have to be comfortably warm to fall asleep…

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  9. Manopause? Or it is something parents never lose after the Newborne stage.
    I seem to read books about these obscure researches, a topic I’d never be interested during the day.

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  10. I’am sorry but I had a good laugh reading this post , so recognizable so well discribed , mine just started two years ago , well I’ve excepted it now and see it as “extra” me time .

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  11. I’m also a poor sleeper (as is my other half) and I definitely understand the feeling of “at least, thank God, nighttime is over” so you can try to get on with your day and hopefully tire yourself out for the next night. I was about to have myself a Sunday afternoon nap as well, but sunny days in England are few and far between and the nightlife here has therefore transformed itself into loud and obnoxious “daylife” in the streets outside. I hope you had a nice weekend nonetheless!

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  12. Perhaps of comfort is this: Sleeping in TWO segments with wide-awakefulness in the middle is actually normal. Daniel J Levitin in his book “The Organized Mind” (he also wrote “This Is Your Brain on Music”) says: “Most of us follow a …pattern of sleeping for 6-8 hours followed by staying awake for 16-18. This is a relatively recent invention. For most of human history, our ancestors engaged in two rounds of sleep, called segmented sleep or bimodal sleep, in addition to an afternoon nap. The first round of sleep would occur for four or five hours after dinner, followed by an awake period of one or more hours in the middle of the night, followed by a second period of four or five hours of sleep….Bimodal sleep appears to be a biological norm that was subverted by the invention of artificial light, and there is scientific evidence that the bimodal sleep-plus-nap regime is healthier and promotes greater life satisfaction, efficiency, and performance. To many of us raised with the 6-8 hour, no-nap sleep ideal, this sounds like a bunch of hippie-dippy, flaky foolishness at the fringe of quackery. But it was discovered (or rediscovered, you might say) by Thomas Wehr, a respected scientist at the U.S. National Insititute of Mental Health in a landmark study….”

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  13. My cpap machine has helped a lot with sleep issues. Occasionally it slips and I wake up with air blowing into my open mouth which has become as dry as the sierra desert. I get up, do the pee thing, which the cpap has not helped. That’s a whole other fix with tubing also. What are those people doing in my quiet neighborhood driving around at 3 am? But my cpap lulls me to sleep and before I know it it’s noon and time to get up.

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