Last night was not good….

Last night was not good. Came home pretty exhausted from the convention around 10-ish (had a nice dinner beforehand with Charles Brown and Gary Wolfe and Marina whose last name I didn't catch and Ken Hite -- Carlucci's is pricey but very yum if you're looking for something upscale near the airport). Watched Enterprise but already knew that I was going to have trouble sleeping -- periodic heart racing, sort of a mild panic attack? Not connected to anything I can think of -- I was totally watching the episode, not thinking about anything else, but it still would race occasionally. Extremely unpleasant sensation, very fight-or-flight-ish, and not conducive to sleep.

I took some Benadryl, climbed into bed, and called David; talked for maybe twenty minutes, with this same weird cycling of periodic panic followed by utter normality. In one of the normal periods I got off the phone and managed to fall asleep, and thanks to the Benadryl, slept solidly the rest of the night. But this is no fun, and I don't want to take Benadryl every night. Especially since it might stop working.

I'm going to give this another week or so, see if it gets better, or improves when Kevin comes home on the 22nd. If it continues, I'm going to go see a doctor and try to figure out what's up. Particularly strange because it only seems to happen at night, when I'm thinking about going to bed. Can one develop a complex around falling asleep? I've never felt neurotic before, but I'm definitely feeling it now.

One of the problems with sleeping is that I have a hard time coming up with things to think about that aren't stressful. The book is stressful, since I still feel behind. The other book is stressful because I'm fretting about reviews. DesiLit's festival is stressful since there's so much to do and potentially a lot of money to deal with. The SLF is stressful because I'm behind on a bunch of projects.

David told me to try thinking about other things, like hobbies -- he thinks about baseball to fall asleep. But the problem is that I think I've gotten so goal-oriented in the last decade that I have no hobbies left. I'm so into the productivity that I've forgotten how to have hobbies. Even my crocheting -- I fret that if I don't get back to work on it soon, I won't finish the baby blanket I'm making while the baby is still a baby. Even when I think about taking up yoga or meditation or something like that, I get stressed, because I worry about how I'll find time to fit it into my day, and I worry that I won't be good at it.

You know that book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? I know how to be a highly effective person -- somehow I've figured that out in the last decade. What I don't know is how to be a relaxed highly effective person.


5 thoughts on “Last night was not good….”

  1. I’m right with you on the problems of trying to be both relaxed and sufficiently productive.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a fellow hypothyroid sufferer. When I can’t sleep and have the heart-racing feeling, I ask myself whether I’m also too warm and unusually hungry. If so, I suspect my dose of synthroid is too high and I go get my thyroid levels checked.

  2. A piece of advice I was given years ago, about avoiding nightmares, but I think it also helps get to sleep, was to mentally review the events of the day in my head before I go to sleep.

    That is, don’t think about future plans/needs/pressing deadlines – but instead remember and recall the day – from small moments to big accomplishments. Try to recall a great meal, or a pretty woman (or man I guess), a great image a good song, the smell of dinner as you served it.

    I generally find that as I think about my day, trying to recall little details, at somepoint I find myself drifting off and asleep.

    Another piece of advice, given to me at a moment when I was overly stressed, was to occasionally “go take a walk by the river” – almost meant literally, the person’s point was that sometimes, no matter how many different, simultanously pressing matters were on my plate, I really needed to go spend some quiet time, probably outdoors, and doing something physical, but mostly just walking, relaxing, observing – pointedly not thinking or working or fretting or stressing about anything.

    Very helpful advice. I find on the days when I take it (too rare I’m afraid) it is helpful – calming, relaxing and also a way to be, surprisingly perhaps, more efficient when I get back.

    Another thought – of late your journal has been full mostly of writing and conferences – have you also been exercising? (even if just long walks) Perhaps after having gotten into the habit of some regular exercise your body having missed it (I assume) is signalling you about its lack? Just a thought, I know that Julia gets moodier when she goes a few weeks without exercise.


  3. There’s a really good book called The Woman’s Comfort Book, by Jennifer Loudon, with lots of suggestions for dealing with stress. One of the most helpful suggestions I’ve found in there is to make a list at the end of every day of everything you’ve actually done and accomplished, including absolutely everything–even down to “I walked the dog/I washed the dinner dishes/I didn’t break down during the difficult conversation”–every single achievement, no matter how minor. Making “done” lists has helped me feel better even on evenings when I felt overwhelmed by the amount of chores still waiting for me.

  4. Seriously, yoga is a really good idea for this kind of thing. Find a beginner’s class and try not to worry about not being good at it. I’m very flexible but I still had to come to terms with the fact that in yoga, someone will always be “better” at it than me. And some will always be worse. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is trying it, doing the breathing into stretches and letting your body adjust itself.

    When I’m particularly stressed for no real reason (which I have been lately) I find that yoga or simple stretching before bed works wonders. Don’t break a sweat or anything, but stretch slowly and breathe into each pose while you hold it, feeling your body relax into the stretch. It really helps me let go of silly shit I’m holding onto and I find I fall asleep more easily. Sometimes I just lie on my back in bed and do leg stretches (pull knee up to chest, hold, straighten leg best you can, hold, pull leg to side, hold, bring knee over to other side to stretch your back; repeat other side) so I don’t even have to clear a space on the floor.

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