THE BLOG
10/03/2012 05:37 pm ET | Updated Dec 03, 2012

Insomnia and the Questions That Keep Me Up at Night

A hot (no pun intended) topic among my midlife friends is insomnia, which seems to go hand-in-hand with hot flashes, headaches, irritability, weight gain... oh yeah, that's called perimenopause.

But the insomnia seems to be the most debilitating of all of the symptoms. I recently had a conversation with some of my virtual (but very real) friends about sleep, and it went something like this:

"I can't sleep. I play Words with Friends at 2 a.m."
"I fall asleep and then wake up soaked with sweat. I have to turn the air down to 52 degrees to cool off"
"If I don't have a glass of wine or two, I can't sleep at all."
"If I don't take an Ambien, I can't sleep at all."

and the worst of all:

"Once I'm up, my mind starts racing, and I never fall back to sleep."

So what is that keeps me up at night, on those nights when I wake up, wide awake, at 1:43, or 2:17? Or worst of all, 4:30 -- because if I wake up at 4:30, I'm for sure not going back to sleep.

Well, there's these things:

  • Money worries
  • What fatal illness I must have that's keeping me awake
  • What fatal illness I must have that makes me so tired all day (ummm, could be the not sleeping at night?)
  • What to make for dinner tomorrow -- I mean, today
  • Where I put... something I can't find
  • Why I made that bad choice in 1986
  • Why I said that stupid thing in 1992
  • Why I shouldn't have had so much to drink at that party in 1997
  • What it would be like if I lived in (insert city or state here)
  • All the people I used to know who I don't know anymore
  • Whether all the people I used to know that I don't know anymore ever think about me

Then there's these things:

  • All the books in my stack that I want to read
  • The phone call I forgot to return (oh shit)
  • The dentist/gyno/eye doctor appointment I need to make
  • Whether my son will get hurt playing football
  • Whether my kids are happy
  • Whether my husband is happy
  • What does it really mean to be happy
  • Is happiness an illusion
  • Is it all an illusion
  • Or maybe a delusion

You get the picture.

In the dark, in the middle of the night, I think about things that don't cross my mind during the day. I lie in bed, listening to my darling husband snoring, my adorable dog scratching and snuffling, and at least I know this -- I'm safe and sound.

Still, a good night's sleep would be nice.