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Insomnia

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This is what insomnia looks like.

 

I’ve never had this problem before. I may not be the best at sleeping normally, but I’ve never been not able to sleep at all ever before in my life. I’m the person who can sleep just about anywhere for 12-14 hours at a clip. My cat naps are 4 hours long.

 

This is not to say I get to indulge in this behavior regularly. In the days and weeks leading up to the wedding I was averaging 5 hours or less a night. Therefore, armed with stories of post-wedding exhaustion, I was fully expecting these kinds of bad habits to backfire by the honeymoon. But what I was prepared for was too much sleeping, guilt-ridden lazy days on the beach with lots of naps.

 

Not adrenaline-filled, panic-stricken, lonely insomnia.

 

It started on the third night of the trip, just as I had concluded we’d escaped unscathed from the evil clutches of jetlag. At our secluded little house on a cliff face in a tiny village on the Amalfi Coast, we fell asleep around 10pm, much as we had the night before. Being on a geriatric sleep schedule didn’t bother me, because it meant getting up earlier and doing more during the day! Except then I woke up at 1am, feeling as alert as if I was waking from some kind of enchanted slumber.

 

So I read my book, which was just the kind of edge-of-your-seat-disaster-movie-thrill-ride to render it totally inappropriate for a relaxing honeymoon. And then it was 3am, and I finished my book. (The only one I’d brought with me!) With no TV, and the wine finished too, I started to feel a bit anxious.

 

This is when the noises started getting to me.

 

First it was the church bells which, ringing every fifteen minutes like literal clockwork, reminded me of exactly how long I’d been attempting to sleep. Then it was the remarkably persistent owl. Finally somewhere around 4:30am, after a solid hour of Angry Birds, and some reading of guide books which only deepened my panic about “how are we going to get things done if I’ve only slept 3 hours!, a rooster took over for the owl.

 

A fucking rooster.

 

I was disgusted at myself for being deprived of sleep by such aural monstrosities as church bells, an owl, and a rooster. Even the constant rush of the river down the valley to the ocean had gotten under my skin. (As well as the kids playing soccer and whinnying horses that later bothered me during a daytime nap.) Put me next to a freeway and it serves as a free white noise machine, but play some mountain village noises and I become a city girl losing my shit.

 

This pattern repeated itself on several nights throughout our week there, and as some days we had actual plans, I did wind up running on 3 or 4 hours of sleep. Not a great recipe for a relaxing honeymoon. It’s continued on and off since we got back, leaving me lying awake with racing thoughts about things I *have* to do the next day that aren’t generally all that important anyway.

 

In fact, according to Martha Beck (can I just say that I love Martha Beck) in November’s O Magazine, I have all the symptoms of burnout:

 

Me Pre-Wedding: “Driven: You’re working flat-out, in a non-stop blur of accomplishment. You feel you can go on like this forever! You can’t!”

 

Me Between Wedding and Honeymoon: “Dragging: You’re sucking up sugar and caffeine to fight fatigue…”

 

Me During the Honeymoon: “Losing It: You’re visibly tired, visibly plump (or alarmingly preskeletal), and perpetually grumpy. You lie awake nights, thoughts racing, longing for sleep. At work and at home, you’ve developed a charming habit of biting people’s heads off.

 

Me Post-Honeymoon: “Hitting the wall: You’re racked by aches and pains, gaining or losing weight, prone to temper tantrums or crying jags, hard-pressed to remember things like computer passwords or your children’s names.”

 

I don’t usually take magazine advice seriously, but I think maybe I’ll follow the steps in this one. Not surprisingly, it says to eat better, sleep more, exercise gently, and avoid sources of stress.

 

Anyone else ever take a relaxing vacation that backfired?

2 Comments

  1. When I get frazzled, I too will have trouble sleeping because of racing thoughts about what I have to do the next day. One thing that works for me is to keep a notebook and pen next to my bed so I can write down those thoughts immediately. I think a big part of my stress is about potentially forgetting to take care of whatever it is, and by writing it down I don’t have to worry about that part at least.

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