August 26, 2009
I can’t sleep. It’s been two, maybe three weeks now. Could be more but, thanks to the lack of sleep, I’m not thinking so clearly right now. In fact, I’m pretty sure, given my current state of mind, it would actually be illegal for me to do anything that requires any significant amount of brain power, such as operating heavy farm equipment or deciding which contestant to vote for on “So You Think You Can Dance.” I’m not even sure I should be writing this column. After all, given my exhaustion, I’m liable to write something totally ridiculous and nonsensical monkey poop banana head.
So why can’t I sleep? I have no idea. It’s not like I’m downing an energy drink (label reads: X-Treeeeme 8 Hour Energy Rush! No crash! Made from a proprietary blend!) before bed. On the contrary, I’m simply walking to the bedroom, climbing into bed, closing my eyes, and then, like any insomniac worth his salt, spending the next four hours finding things to worry about.
“What if world peace breaks out? Won’t all those people at the UN be out of jobs?”
“What if Jon and Kate don’t get back together? Oh God, what if they do?!?”
“What if we keep putting off that trip to the Grand Canyon and then, one day, someone comes along, fills the thing up with concrete, and builds a Starbucks?”
Eventually, I stop worrying and realize it’s 3:30 AM. That’s when I:
- begin to calculate how many hours of sleep I’m going to get (if I fall asleep that very second)
- convince myself that I’ll be perfectly fine to function at work the next day.
I’m sure this sort of thing is normal among insomniacs.
NURSE: Doctor, you’ve slept three hours in the past four days. Are you sure you’re up to performing this very difficult and complicated brain surgery?
DOCTOR: Nurse, I’m a professional. Now let’s begin cutting.
NURSE: Doctor, we’re in the cafeteria.
DOCTOR: Hmmm, that would explain the macaroni in my pocket.
Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about saving anyone’s life. As a writer, the worst-case scenario is that I’ll spend eight hours staring at a blank Word document, waiting for inspiration to hit. Then, when it finally does, I’ll type something like “monkey poop banana head.”
“Yep,” I’ll say to myself with a satisfied smile. “I made some real progress today.”
My insomnia has gotten so bad that I actually consulted a sleep expert for help. She gave me some basic pointers on proper sleep hygiene, such as if you’re lying in bed for more than 10 minutes, you need to get out and do something else. I tried this for the first time last night and went into the living room to watch TV. Turns out there’s not much on the tube at 2:45 AM except infomercials. This is probably because the folks at the networks know there’s no way in hell a sane person would pay $19.99 for a Waterproof Electric Razor. A sleep-deprived person, on the other hand, will buy ANYTHING—particularly if that person is me.
Truth is, I cannot be trusted alone with an infomercial and a phone. Not only will I buy whatever they’re selling (“Yoga for Senior Citizens? I’ve GOT to get this!”), I’ll rationalize why we need to buy two or three of that item (“the shipping cost is the same! It’s actually cheaper to buy more!”). Over the years, I estimate my insomnia has cost us around $12,302 in infomercial purchases, a number that barely edges out my SkyMall impulse buys (“Wow! It’s a giant wooden propeller that leans against a bookcase! This’ll go great with our life-size Darth Vader statue and Marshmallow Shooter!”).
So clearly, watching TV is not the answer to my insomnia problem. Other suggested guidelines from the sleep expert include:
- Go to bed at the same time every night.
- The bed is to be used only for sleep or sex or, if you’re really kinky, having sex with someone who’s asleep.
- No water, bright lights, and, whatever you do, absolutely, positively no food after midnight.
As you can see, these are all good rules and should be taken very seriously, particularly the last one which, really, is the only way to prevent your small town from being overtaken by terrifying, violent gremlins who will not only destroy the local toy store but will also explode in your microwave, leaving you with one helluva mess to clean up.
Anyway, I’m rambling now. And, as I look at the clock, it occurs to me that I have to be at work in less than four hours where I’m expected to present an ad campaign to a client. I can only hope the presentation goes smoothly and I’m able to mask the fact that I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in, what seems like, ages monkey poop banana head.