Another Sleepless Night

About my unfortunate sleeping problem.

I can’t sleep.

It’s Tuesday morning, at around 12:30 AM. I’m wide awake, typing on my PowerBook in front of the TV. The TV is off.

I have a weird sleeping problem. I wake up very early — usually around 5 AM — without any assistance from an alarm clock. I can’t even claim that the sun is waking me, because the sun doesn’t rise these days until nearly 7 AM. I go through my morning routine, which includes making coffee for me and scrambled egg for Alex, my parrot, at a leisurely pace. By 7 AM, I’m ready for work.

The day goes quickly. These days, I’ve been starting my day at the local airport, which I kind of manage. My morning guy went back to work as a pilot and I’m looking for a replacement. Until I find one, I’m the morning guy. I work until about noon, getting lots of paperwork done and spending lots of time talking to the people who come in. Then I usually go to my office, where I spend a few hours catching up on the things I neglected while working on my last big book project — in this case, my Mac OS X Panther book. (Next week, I start another book project — Excel 2003 for Windows.) Around 5 PM, I head home. Mike and I have dinner and usually watch something we’ve “tape” on Dish Network’s version of TIVO. Last night, it was an episode of “Choppers” from Discovery Wings and a “Nova” about string theory. (We don’t watch network TV.) By 8 PM, I can barely keep my eyes open. I go to bed.

I’m dead to the world for the first half of any night’s sleep. You could set off a bomb in my kitchen and I don’t think I’d wake up. After that, things are iffy.

On the worst nights — like tonight — I wake up about four to five hours after I’ve fallen asleep and I’m wide awake. Tonight is worse than usual because I still have a cough, so when I woke up, I spent some time coughing, waking up Mike, too. When I’m like this, I can spend at least two hours wasting time watching TV, reading, or writing. Then, if I’m lucky, I can get back to sleep.

Other nights, I’ll just wake up and snooze and wake up and snooze for the rest of the night. Or I’ll just sleep lightly and wake to the slightest outside sound: dogs barking, coyotes howling, wind, etc. Or be kept awake by the sound of Mike breathing. Since I can’t get him to stop doing that, I’m often in a semi awake stage for hours. These nights are particularly bad if I have a lot on my mind. Then these thoughts parading through my head make it impossible to sleep.

Of course, other nights, I’ll sleep right through.

The sleepless nights usually come in groups. They might be triggered by the moon or by some internal clock that my body keeps winding. So I’ll have a week or more of sleepless nights. Then, one night I’ll sleep right through and wake feeling very pleased and surprised. For a while, the sleepless nights went on for months. It got to the point where I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a good night’s sleep. Then, suddenly, I could sleep straight through again. I was extremely pleased. The thought of never sleeping well again wasn’t sitting well with me.

I don’t believe in taking medicine to help me sleep — unless, of course, I have a cold. I’m a firm believer that when you’re sick, sleep is extremely important. If you don’t get sleep, you won’t get better. So whenever I’m sick, I purposely take over-the-counter remedies that include sleeping aids. Of course, they seldom work because I’m sick and too busy coughing or fighting a runny nose to sleep.

Anyway, tonight is one of those nights. I just spent 20 minutes writing this, sitting on the sofa with my legs tucked up under me and my laptop on my lap. I’ll write something else during the next hour or so. By then, I should be ready to get back to sleep.

I hope.

What do you think?