Sunday, 20 March 2011

An Ode To Insomnia

Woman tossing & turning from insomnia by Stephanie Redmond, via

Why is it that when we most need to sleep, when not sleeping is going to make us sicker, that that's when Insomnia rears it's ugly head??!!??

Sulking Child - Image © Joana Virck-Alevra at

I don't have anywhere near as much of a problem with Insomnia now as I did in the first few years after my relapse ... when I would rarely be able to sleep more than a few hours a night, and would regularly be awake for days at a time. But still, now, on the days when sleeping is most vital, it's like my brain has a hissy fit and refuses to play ball - just sits down in the middle of the court, folds it's arms, and sulks with a vengeance.

I'm trying hard to rest and recover from my visit to the dentist this week, my first outing in over 8 months - something I'll try to talk about over the next few days as I'm able - but my body's on high alert and my mind just won't stop buzzing - little wonder considering how much adrenaline seems to be rushing around my system, and how high my pulse is right now! The physical stress of leaving my bed, never mind the house, and undergoing painful dental work has left my body in a pretty bad way. My pain levels have been fairly stable for the last few months, but now they've suddenly kicked off again with a vengeance, and let me tell you, lying awake in mind-numbing pain is not my idea of a good time!! My M.E. is totally kicking my butt!!

Woman lying in pain on bed

All in all, I feel pretty frustrated right now, & I'm dreading trying to sleep today! I've set some essential oils burning to try to calm myself down physically before settling down to sleep (well, my carer has), hopefully that will help. And thank God for my sleeping tablets, Zolpidem, which not only make me sleepy but also go some way towards dulling the pain for a few hours so I can get to sleep initially, which is often my biggest issue.

I found this poem a while ago, by Liza Rosenberg and I find myself thinking of it now when I'm hit by a bout of insomnia - it always makes me smile because it's so me. :) I thought I'd share it with you guys too. Please do check out
her site, she has some really awesome poetry posted there. :)

Ode to Insomnia

Bleary-eyed and body weak
The lack of sleep begins to wreak
Havoc on my tired soul
Exhaustion starts to take its toll

I try to rid my mind of thought
But sadly it is all for naught
For slumber doesn’t want to come
Despite the brain and body numb

So I sit and try to write
Listening to sounds of night
Feeling just a little punchy
Damn it! Now I’ve got the munchies…

Posted With Permission. :)

Image of Question Mark by Salvatore Vuono at
Reader Questions :

What do you guys do to beat Insomnia?

How do you cope with the emotional side of
not sleeping & the increased symptoms that causes?

Susannah's Signature
I'd love to hear your reply and I know it'll be valued by other readers too! I always try to respond, please just be aware that it can take me some time to find the energy to do so as I've been particularly ill recently and struggling to get online. Thanks for reading! :)



  1. I am trying to have good sleep hygiene. Doesn't that sound organised and 'together'. serioulsy trying no stimulaion after 9;30 pm and no day sleep. day rest but no sleep. Sometimes it works.

    How do i cope with the emotional side of me/cfs. this varies everyday , sometimes I am pragmatic and strong other times everything makes me cry. It is bloody hard to be very sick. I enjoyed reading your blog though. thanks.

    :) Kiwikchat

  2. Hi! Thanks for your comments. :)

    Sounds like you're MUCH more organised that me. I admit to being fairly terrible about the hours before I sleep - though I do try to start settling down a couple of hours before sleeping time.

    It IS bloody hard, you're right!

  3. I took a 12-week pain management course. Some things were helpful, some not. Perhaps least helpful was sleep hygiene. I already knew all that stuff and it had nothing to do with the heartpounding brainhammering musclesearing experience I had when I lay very hygienically down to sleep.

    After more research on ME I understood that what was happening was related to OI and POTS and adrenaline: physical responses of ME to even mild exertion.

    All that has helped me aside from simply doing less and less, is Chinese herbs prescribed by my acupuncturist. My sleep had gotten so shallow I never hit dream sleep. After starting taking those herbs, I've had dreams again.

  4. I don't have ME but I will just mention that sumatriptan (Imitrex) dramatically helps my insomnia. My brain keeps spinning and spinning and no amount of Hygeine or Meditating etc makes a damn bit of difference. But a small amount of SSRI does. After I finally give in and take the stuff I'll experience actual sleep in a half hour. Up until then it's Twitter all the way!!!

  5. Hia Creek! :)

    Yes that's so much my experience too! Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter what I do, my body just isn't having any of it.

    My sleeping in general has become much better over the last couple of years. It's funny - I seem in general to be going through a calmer stage of ME. Still totally bedridden & disabled blah blah, but some things are calmer like I am more often than not managing 10 hours of sleep a night - though it's a struggle most nights to settle my body enough to sleep, and at the worst times the insomnia kicks back in - But I'm rarely totally hypersomniac anymore. Seem to have found a slightly happier medium for a while.

    But gawd it drives me nutty when I can't sleep!!

    Definitely my problem is primarily adrenaline. I'm basically 99% sure I have undiagnosed POTS so perhaps that is contributing to it, too - hadn't thought of that! What process is it with the POTS which is causing you sleep issues, Creek?

    In this new phase of sleep issues, I seem to have hit a stage where I have sort of waking dreams. I'm almost always half aware of what's going on around me, and how my body's feeling - even when I'm dreaming. It's a really odd sensation. Better than full on insomnia but I doubt it's exactly restful sleep!

    Wow I'm rambling!!

    Hi Nellie!
    Sorry you're having problems sleeping hon.
    Sumatripitan as in the migrane med? Never heard of that being used on that kind of basis. I have it for migraines but I find it makes me very dosy the next day whereas zolpidem doesn't. :) Be careful with it ok hon?
    It's horrible when only meds let you sleep properly, I know. I always feel really guilty about it.

  6. Used to take the zolpidem myself. Found that it would act differently depending on the state of my ME. Most times, it would last the normal 4-6 hours. But sometimes, it would hang on for up to 18 hours!

    Don't take it anymore as that infrequnt 18 hours was too problematic.

  7. Yea, funny how different meds affect people so differently. I've been through a few different meds (of all different types) which caused so much drowsiness that in combination with my ME was just really damaging. I can't stand that feeling of being 'drugged up' where you feel so drowsy you can barely keep your eyes open!