Sunday, November 8, 2009

Talk to me about your sleeping habits

No, I don't mean that.

I'm talking about the actual sleeping part.

I haven't slept since 1996.

Okay, maybe I'm slightly exaggerating. But really, I barely slept in 1996. I remember that clearly. Oh, I'd fall asleep fine. But I always woke up at 2 a.m. and could not fall back asleep until a few minutes before the alarm clock went.

1996 was before Facebook and blogging. I think we had just gotten our e-mail address on AOL. So I would wake up, not be able to fall asleep and watch old I Love Lucy reruns.

(I love I Love Lucy).

I was desperate, and lonely. Isaac, my husband, is one of the most talented sleepers I know. I'm totally jealous of him. "Honey", he'll say. "I'm going to sl---",and he's out cold before his head hits the pillow. And doesn't move until I wake him the next morning. If I hadn't woken him that first morning, he'd probably have slept through the birth of our children, our Aliyah and any of our other major life events.

I fell in love with those little blue pills (no not those, I'm talking about Tylenol PM). I didn't get addicted or anything like that, but I would take them on Friday nights, because I could sleep late on Shabbat. I couldn't take them during the week, because they made me feel woozy in the morning and I was scared to drive under their influence.

I started telling people about my problem and was happy to find out that lots of my friends suffered from the same issue (what can I say, misery loves company). In almost every couple I knew, at least one person was suffering from insomnia.

1996 was the worst year. It's gotten much better since then. I do awaken in the deep, dark night, but now I can usually put myself back to sleep fairly easily. Occasionally, I still have a bad night. I didn't fall asleep Saturday night until 4:30 a.m. (to bad I didn't volunteer to do Haveil Havalim last week). And while it's been fine since, a night like that kills my week.

And so, I'm curious: Do any of you or your partners suffer from sleep disorders? How do they manifest? What tricks do you use to help yourself sleep? How does it affect your life?

Waiting for your answers.



Karen A. said...

My husband and I are very lucky. We don't wake up until the kids sit on our heads. Even then ...
Coincidentally our newborns started sleeping through the night at very young ages. :)

Baila said...


How nice for you.

Fern Chasida said...

I've always had sleep problems but they've changed over the years. I used to have trouble falling asleep in high school and there was nothing like late night TV to knock me out. I continued having problems falling asleep and like your dh, mine too would be asleep before his head hit the pillow. Now, I'm usually so tired I fall asleep (except when I'm stressed, excited, or worried, like now) but I either wake up in the middle of the night, or even if I sleep till morning I NEVER feel well rested.
And on that happy note, I am heading to bed, hopefully to sleep. Sweet dreams.

Leora said...

There's a good sleep clinic here in Central New Jersey. My father has problems sleeping, so they tested him. Most commonly, people have sleep apnea. But he didn't have that. I'm not sure it helped him, the test.

But you can get tested at a sleep clinic. My cousin's father, z"l, was a sleep doctor in Israel. He must have trained people to follow in his footsteps!

Commenter Abbi said...

My mom totally has this. Benedryl is her drug of choice.

Interestingly, I had horrible insomnia in high school, I'm guessing from all the stress of the work and commuting (I went to Ramaz every day from CT). Since then I've never slept that horribly on a regular basis. Po v'sham I've had a bad night, usually because I'm upset about something.

But my mom, she's been doing what you're doing for years. Have you considered a sleep clinic?

OneTiredEma said...

I have been an insomniac for years, at least since high school. People would always tell me to read to get sleepy and I'd wind up staying up until 3:00 am to finish a novel.

My best sleep was actually in college (if you can believe it)-I'd usually not sleep all night one night in the first week of each semester and after that I'd be so tired from getting up at 7 and going to bed at 1 or 2 in the morning that I'd be able to fall asleep easily.

My husband takes a maximum of five minutes to fall asleep, unless something is truly bothering him. I cannot relate to this; *best case* scenario it takes me 15 minutes, usually closer to 60-90 minutes, to fall asleep, and noise or lights really bother me. I never sleep well in a bed that's not my own (hotel, someone else's house). It's a bit of a pain.

I had a dr in the states who recommended going to sleep at approx the same time every night, eating a light snack 30-60 min before (like a cookie and a little milk, or a handful of nuts, etc), and reading in bed for a few minutes before turning off the light. It helped. Why am I not doing that now? I have no idea; I should go back to it.

Remarkably I can function ok on very little sleep (though I get cranky); I have a hard time sleeping in (I am a morning person, even if I only fall asleep at 3 in the morning) and a hard time taking naps. Afternoons after bad nights are very difficult for me though.

My mom, also a longtime insomniac, swears by Tylenol PM. Now that I am not nursing anyone I suppose I'd be free to try it.

Baila said...


It seems like you and I have the same sleep issues.

Leora and Abbi,

I have thought about a sleep clinic. Not sure if or when I'll actually get around to it.


What you describe is so typical. I took myself off caffiene a couple of years ago and it definitely helped. I have slowly allowed caffiene into my life--I should probably get off it again (I'm not a huge drinker, but I think it affects me). I think a cookie and milk is a great idea to help us get to sleep. I'll start implementing that right away.
Tylenol PM is very helpful, but it does give you that woozy feeling in the morning. Use sparingly.

Best sleep I ever had was when I was put under for surgery. I woke up really well rested from that.

Staying Afloat said...

Surgery! Yes! Also, when I fainted after giving blood. I was out for maybe two minutes, but it felt better than a full night's worth.

I was always an insomniac in high school and college. Getting to sleep took about an hour, so I also filled the time with reading and ended up staying up even later. College had the advantage of being able to sleep later.

Once I hit marriage and kids together with grad school, it was a lost cause. For four kids, my husband got up to get the baby for middle of the night feedings and to replace pacifiers, because he could just nod off again as soon as he got back in bed and I'd be up another hour if I so much as stood up. Unfortunately, with the latest baby, the husband doesn't sleep so well anymore. And neither does my baby. But at least I'm tired enough to fall asleep quickly when I actually get to bed. May I refer you to the title of my blog?

Anonymous said...

I had terrible insomnia just like you described. It turned out that I was depressed. I functioned fantastically and was not aware of feeling that was. To make a long story short I finally started to take antidepressants and it changed my life. Once I was no longer depressed, i realized how miserable I had been. The fringe benefit is that I sleep like a baby. Insomnia is a symptom of depression (also of other things).

Anonymous said...

For a person who loves sleeping, i have hard time sleeping through the night. I usually wake up at 3 a.m. for a couple of hours.

Thank god I have friends in different time zones so I can chat with my friends online! Not to mention that Law and order is on all the time on some channel or other!