5 Things Every Insomniac Will Recognize
Acquainted with the night.
You're not alone in being unable to get a little shut-eye. According to the Sleep Foundation, some 48 percent of Americans report occasional insomnia, while a whopping 22 percent report insomnia "every or almost every night."
It's the strangest thing: Insomnia makes it feel like you're too tired to sleep.
Women report insomnia 1.3 times more men.
Since you're up anyway, here's a look at some of the things that every insomniac knows.
1. Listening to the "you know what works for me?" opinions from well-meaning friends.
Herbal remedies? Ambien? Melatonin? NyQuil? Drinking? Counting sheep?
Why, thank you. Never even thought about that.
Of all the suggestions that well-meaning people make, alcohol is the probably the worst: while the National Institute of Health concedes that low doses may be beneficial, it can disrupt REM patterns, reducing the quality of sleep. The result? You're still tired the next day.
Certain classifications of prescription sleep aids have the potential for physical dependence, but if used responsibly can alleviate occasional insomnia.
2. Lying awake, watching the clock.
How can it only be 4:30 a.m.? Wasn't it 4:30 ten minutes ago?
One of the worst things about insomnia is the tyranny that time assumes as you toss and turn.
Stare at your phone. Stare at your watch. Stare at the ceiling. Nothing moves. Time stretches. Your heartbeat pulses in your ears when you close your eyes. Every moment is thick and heavy, blurring the perception of time.
3. Trying to read or work, but finding you’re too tired to do either.
Some of the world's most creative minds worked best at night. French writer Honorè de Balzac, best known for his novel "Père Goriot," slept from 6pm to 1am, then worked through the night.
That's the impulse, sometimes: To get up and use your newly-found hours instead of just lying there feeling helpless. Sometimes it works.
Other times, not so much.
Either way, you probably still have to be at work or in class in the morning and the light of your computer screen isn't going to change the fact that you have to give the appearance of being functional long after you watch the dawn break.
4. Scrolling through your contacts to see who might be awake.
Finding a 4 a.m. friend can be very consoling.
That's one gauge of a friendship: who can you text at 4 a.m. that will reply?
Keep scrolling, there's gotta be one in there somewhere.
5. Sleeping pill-induced shopping and emails.
Certain sleep aids, among them Ambien, have been known to induce a curious side-effect: activity in an amnesiac, hypnotic state. Some people sleepwalk. Others send emails to people. Some sleep-eat. Scarily, some people actually drive.
And others shop.
A writer on In The Mom Light reported buying $400 worth of throw pillows from Pottery Barn.
A woman told Today that she spent $2980 on Anthropologie's website with no recollection of it.
Here's the result of one Redditor's Ambien shopping spree.
These would seem to fall under the side-effects listed on the drug's label as "strange behavior" and "abnormal thinking."
Ever go sleep shopping?
At least one person in our office has actually gone grocery shopping under the effects of sleeping pills and woke up to find multiple containers of Haagen-Dazs left half-empty in the freezer. We won't even talk about their Amazon sprees.
If you can't sleep tonight, come back and try this.
Turn down the light on your screen after you hit play.
It's exactly what you think it is: the sound of raindrops on a tent in a thunderstorm. No, this isn't a Clickhole-style satire. It might just help.
And if not, well, know that there are plenty of us out there watching the seconds turn into hours with you.
Let's try not to do any shopping.