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Insomnia and Summer

The summer I was 8 or 9 years old is when I first started having insomnia. We lived in south-east Georgia which is very hot and humid. Our house was out in the middle of nowhere with swamps and creeks all around, and the air-conditioning was very unreliable. It was hot, sticky, and filled with mosquitoes. Sleep was next to impossible unless I was completely exhausted. So I would stay up reading, watching tv, or walking around the yard. My parents never knew as long as I stayed quiet; and even my sister–who was usually my insomnia buddy–seemed to have an easier time getting to sleep than I did.
By the summer I was 10, this pattern was firmly established. Once the weather turned hot I was up til at least 3 A.M. every night. Barbara and I usually had a lot of fun on those nights, and since it was summer we didn’t have to worry about school. But there were a number of nights that I sat alone on the back patio and desperately wished I could sleep.
The years went on, and by my late teens my difficulties sleeping at night had spread to most of the year (except winter, when I want to hibernate), but summer was always the worst. When I had to get up early and consistently I could make myself sleep at night, but it was never easy for me. The summer I was 20 I took my first overnight job. It didn’t last long (we moved), but it gave me a chance to use my sleeplessness.
By the time I was 23 I was working full time on third shift, and going to school full time during the day. In the summers–when I had an especially hard time sleeping–I also did community theater so I was completely exhausted when I did go to bed.
After I moved to Ames my schedule got flip-flopped around so much my insomnia didn’t know what to do. I became tired all the time, but still not able to sleep when I wanted to–which persists to this day. Even after I returned to overnight work I never regained the energy insomnia used to give me.
I eventually finished school and started working a normal schedule for a few years. I had to get up consistently early, so I could sleep at night. I still rarely felt rested, but at least I was maintaining a sleeping pattern. Now I’m unemployed (fairly happily!), and it’s summer. Over the past few weeks it’s become increasingly difficult for me to sleep at night. I go to bed at the same reasonable hour that Sam does, but then I toss and turn or stare at the ceiling for half the night. I try to make myself get up at a consistent, relatively early, time every day; but that’s hard to do when I don’t need to get up at a particular time. I’m fighting the urge to revert to my old summer insomnia schedule. I might sleep better if I did, but I would really prefer to have a schedule that’s compatible with Sam’s. Call me crazy, but I kind of like spending time with the big goof.

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