I have a rather rocky relationship with sleep. We've not really been on good terms for years now. Sleep is a grudging visitor at night, often arriving far too late and then fleeing before I'm ready for it to go. I sleep in fits and starts, and what I do manage to get is often punctuated by disturbing and extremely vivid dreams. Part of my issue with sleep is that my brain simply will not turn off. It doesn't matter how tired my body is. As soon as I climb into bed and turn the light off, it's like my brain decides it's time to drag up every worry or fear I could possibly have and parade them through my head like supermodels on a runway. I've tried everything to stop this. I've faithfully followed every piece of advice on relaxing before bed time, not using the computer or watching TV, letting myself unwind, not eating after a certain time, making sure the room is dark and quiet. I've counted sheep and I've gone through relaxation techniques and I've even tried to force my brain to picture a quiet meadow with wind blowing peacefully through the long grass. The problem with that is I have an overly active imagination that insists on populating the meadow with squirrels and rabbits and deer and creating stories about what they are doing. Eventually I'm obsessively building generations of wild animals that, akin to some Disney movie, live happy little lives until something awful happens. Like a fire.
To stop my brain from either going through the anxiety parade or sending squirrels to a fiery demise I just take OTC sleeping pills, of the sort you can get from any grocery stores.
I have been doing this for..oh..about four years now. Unfortunately they don't really provide me with good sleep. It's better than the no sleep I'd get without them, but I typically wake up feeling groggy and like someone has been beating me with a stick. I'm always exhausted and it takes me a few hours in the morning before I feel even remotely human. Over the years my quality of forced sleep has been getting worse and worse, to the point that I've been having episodes of sleep paralysis. On my list of fun things to personally experience, that one ranks very low indeed.
So this week I am attempting to venture back into the world of natural sleep. Last night was my first foray back into dreamland without the aid of sleeping pills. It went better than I expected, but still not as well as I would like. When I woke up this morning I didn't feel as groggy or sore like I usually do, but it took me so long to fall asleep last night that I spent the entire day yawning and doing my best not to doze off at my desk.
Probably I should finally give in and go to a doctor about it. I just wish I could do what I used to be able to and drift off into a peaceful, natural, deep sleep without my brain being an asshole about things and making it complicated. Sadly, something tells me that those days are probably long behind me. Unless I can find some sort of "off" switch to stop myself from focusing on every wretched little thing when I get into bed, I think I'm probably stuck with some form of assistance in getting myself to sleep.