Holy Grail of Insomnia
Commentary by The Spouse of an Insomniac
When I met my partner, going on 17 years ago, it wasn’t until I slept with her that I realized she didn’t sleep. I would fall asleep post coital and wake up hours later to pee. She would be laying there quietly strumming her fingers against the soft folds of the comforter…expressionless and outwardly peaceful. At the time, in the beginnings of our romance, I didn’t think much of this except to smile at her seemingly gentle temperament in the wee hours of the morning.
As the years progressed I became more familiar with her habitual strumming and what now seemed more like a blank and vacant stare while the ticking clock slowly brought her closer to daybreak.
After many sleep therapists, sleep hypnotists and sleep remedies she decided that she wouldn’t go to bed until she was sleepy. Since she wasn’t forcing herself to sleep she began to have a ‘second wind’ at around 11 pm and literally would be hooting and hollering, lights on, action ready. So, she left the quietness of our bed and started wandering around the house. As she became more desperate she began to accumulate all sorts of sleep inducing items to help her break the Holy Grail of Insomnia. Special glasses that induced her melatonin, lucky pajamas, other lucky pajamas when the first pair of lucky pajamas didn’t work, lucky sheets, her lucky pillow and the various sleep objects that would hypnotize her away from her curious fear of sleep. She started eating indiscriminately at the kitchen counter and began to gain weight.
We couldn’t go away on vacation because the room and the bed and the sheets and the pillows wouldn’t be right and she wouldn’t be able to get any sleep. We couldn’t plan ahead for social encounters because she might not get any sleep the night before and then wouldn’t be able to manage anything the next day.
As time wore on I found myself sitting up with her; going to bed later and later, unable to fall asleep unless she had settled down beside me. Nightly rituals began to develop between us: falling asleep together on our double recliner while the TV played on into the wee hours of the morning, night lights in the hallway so she could find her way to our bed in the dark, waking up at 3AM to find her nodded out with the TV blasting and helping her limp back to our bed without waking her up. I have to be very careful that I don’t wake her up…the slightest touch will frighten her out of her slumber as if I was Jack the Ripper.
We have talked a lot about her sleeplessness and what has become glaringly clear is that she has made a striking connection between sleep and death. Of course, in the Buddhist tradition, that connection is very clear. The difference lies in whether we return to the body upon awakening or find our self in another state ready to launch to a new incarnation.
For now, I am taking homeopathic remedies for insomnia and as a last resort rely on my Ambien.