Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I can't count sheep -- I can't visualize them. I try to visual lights -- sort of create my own version of the "Northern Lights" -- see a red light, then a green, a yellow, but other thoughts creep in.

What? A chore I need to do ... Or names flutter across my mind -- friends who have temporarily disappeared. Gee, I haven't heard from Ann or Roberta ... alas, I have a memory for names, and Facebook friends with whom I've had intense exchanges, sooner or later disappear ...

It's a fact of life, I guess.

I check the clock. Note how many minutes have passed since I last checked it. Time moves very slowly when you are checking a clock.

I review choreography. (I used to rehearse the sequence of steps in "Still Point," a ballet that was created for me, that I performed more than 1000 times, I taught it to one of my dancers -- I didn't want to rehearse it anymore.) Currently, I review the sequence of steps in my daily performance of Vaughan Williams's "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis." but gee -- it wakes me up. Often I'm ready to jump up, race downstairs to my studio, and do it.

I count creatively. I order myself in my mind. I like to use Shakespeare's -- "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care." Then I say "two," and repeat the Shakespeare, then "three," and repeat the Shakespeare phrase again. It's exhausting, very boring, mentally. I can keep going with this until around eighty-something, but then ...

Do I drift off to sleep? No, not unless I take a ____ ?
Benadryl, a/k/a diphenhydramine -- 25 to 75 mg?
Tylenlol )a/k.a acetaminophen -- 500 to 1500 mg?.
Vodka, 1 to 2 oz. with 2 oz. Orange juice?.
Unisom, a/k.a doxyalimine succinate, 25 mg?.
Or Melatonin, Cammomile Tea, Valerian, St. John's Wort?
L-triptophane, Ambian, Darvon, Elavil a/k/a amytriptyline?.

Nothing in the above list works consistently or reliably, Therefore, I count "chimpanzees." Each "chimpaNzee" takes about one second to pronounce.

Using chimpanzees, I put my toes to sleep, then my metatarsals, then my arches, then top of my arches, then my ankles, my Achilles tendon, the back of my legs -- muscle by muscle till I reach the calf -- I do lower, mid, and upper calf, then knees, then above the knees -- I rarely get much beyond them.

I drift -- not off to sleep -- instead, find myself remembering a mixture of things I ought to do blending with things I have done -- good things, bad things, so I go back to my toes. with chimpanzees or Shakespeare.

Often, I get up and head for the kitchen, gaze at some television show for awhile, thinking I should go back to work on my blog. I don't go back to work. I'm too tired. I head BACK to the bedroom and start with the toes again.

If you have any suggestions ...


Carola said...

Listen to the BBC. To keep the room quiet, use one earbud in your ear (let the other one dangle). The BBC can be soothing even through war and disaster. They put me back to sleep even during the Gulf War.

Linda Phillips said...

I spent several years working with Dr. Neil Kavey at the Columbia Presybeterian Sleep Disorders Center.

Spend a half hour or more in another room. Make a list of everything that is on your mind.

Then read, again none of this in the bedroom. Read for an hour or so. Read until you feel you are ready to go to sleep.

Do not go into the bedroom until you are ready to go to sleep!

If you find yourself lying awake for more than 10 minutes, get out of bed and go back to reading in another room.

Try using a special light box that is also meant for SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Use it for a half hour, sitting directly in front of it every morning. It changes the sleep, wake cycle.

Medications are up to you, unless you also see a Sleep Disorder's Specialist like Dr. Kavey.

Good luck! I know only too well what you are going through.