Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How do I turn off my brain?

Every night it's the same. I go to bed around midnight, sometimes a little later, sometimes a little earlier. All night long I toss and turn, sometimes waking up every hour (I know this, because I look at the clock). Every time I wake up, my brain is going a mile a minute, frequently replaying bits of songs, sometimes repeating Chinese phrases, sometimes just thinking about stuff in general. I don't wake up in a blur, like, "Wha....where am I?" but fully conscious and THINKING. Then usually around 5:00 a.m. I sink into two or three hours of heavier sleep before finally getting out of bed. I feel as if I haven't had a good night's sound sleep since I moved to Taiwan - but it doesn't seem to be affecting me adversely. I'm not run-down during the day, I seem to have the normal amount of energy, and I don't fall asleep while teaching my students. That's good, huh? Huh?

My habit in the US was to get to bed by 10:00 p.m., then get up at 4:45 a.m., so I was only getting 7 hours of sleep on the average. Weekends were another matter, and I could cheerfully snore away for 10 or 11 hours. The house was dark at night, because I lived in the mountains. No streetlights outside, just the moon and stars. We're talking dark here, like can't see anything, just gotta feel your way down the hall to the bathroom if you gotta pee. Then there was the silence factor. Magalia was peaceful at night, barring the occasional barking dog. I didn't need to run the fan to drown out noisy upstairs neighbors, just popped in the earplugs and heard nothing the whole night. And I had the most wonderfully comfortable place to sleep - my couch. Ah, how I miss that couch, and what a joy it was to spend a few nights on it again when I stayed at Weiwei's house. This couch cradled me, hugging my ample curves so gently, and not giving me room to thrash around.

So here I have a double bed that is OK for comfort but comes nowhere close to the bliss of that couch. I have light everywhere, 24-7, with never a completely dark night (well, unless a typhoon knocks the power out for a little while, which is rare). I finally got some dark drapes for the bedroom after more than a year without drapes, and that helps, but it's still quite light in there. Even if I use the sleep mask, light leaks in underneath.

So, what's keeping me from sleep? Is it the light? Is it the noise? Is it the bed? Am I just noticing my sleeplessness more now because it's so incredibly hot and I have to have not only the fan but also the air conditioner on at night, both producing background noise? Am I just a statistic in the annals of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services? "Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men."

Maybe I should go to bed even later than I am, because much of the time I don't feel sleepy when I hit the sack, I just figure it's late and I should hie myself off to bed. Perhaps if I stayed up long enough to feel the sleepies creeping up on me, then I'd sleep better. I dunno.

Suggestions welcome, but don't ask me to drink warm milk. I don't care how much tryptophan it has in it, Taiwan milk is just nasty when heated up. Ewww. Hey, wait......chocolate and peanuts also have tryptophan. AHA! The solution is to eat more peanut M&Ms! Eureka, I have found it!

1 comment:

aetherwellen said...

That sounds like my sleeping patterns when I'm stressed. :( I try to combat it by staying awake and reading until my eyes get heavy.