Mad In Pursuit Notebook

sleep not

Sleep Journal

29 Oct 2012 -- I can't fall asleep. Even when my eyes droop shut, my brain looks for more interesting stuff to process. If I don't feed it through my ears -- listening to podcasts or internet radio, for example, then my skin lights up and decides to itch.

This isn't new. It isn't technology- or stress-induced. I rejected falling asleep as an infant. I just can't let go of the world's buzz. And yet I'm not a night-owl. By 10 PM I'm fried as far as meaningful activities go. I'm beat.

In 2006 I discovered the miracle of Ambien. Even though I reduced my dose from 10 mg to 2.5 mg over the years, it remained auntie's little helper -- just strong enough to tip me over the threshold. But in mid-September, I quit.

So sleep is back to being a challenge. I can't have 20 things carooming around in my head, then switch off anymore. I have to be planful. I have to consciously let go. I hate letting go.

When I took a month-long holiday from Ambien while we spent February in Florida, I found a method: (1) Play an audio novel and (2) set the timer for it to turn off in 20 minutes. I would be asleep. If I momentarily stirred when the sound stopped, I could tell myself nevermind and sink back down into the darkness.

That method still works but I don't always use it. I could eat an apple instead of a Klondike bar too. I could savor a glass of cool water instead of wine. And I could keep my bathroom scrubbed...

What's even more puzzling is that for years I slept with my radio on all night. Art Bell kept me company through the nineties -- when I woke up his mysterious voice would be there to calm me and pull me back into darkness. There is a Best of Art Bell station on internet radio, but it doesn't work its magic anymore. It pops me wide awake.

I need to get serious. Last night's method:

Sleep! A solid 8 hours.


How to fall asleep, WikiHow

Pure Water - Poetry of Rumi with Coleman Barks and Eugene Friesen. Available on iTunes.

Sudoku Joy iPhone/iPad app. I fill in the pencil hints on the Intricate level.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki. Available on