Insomnia comes from an overactive mind

Published 9:41 am Monday, September 16, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

One of the first things I did this morning, after pouring myself a cup of coffee, was to hunt down my dangling earrings that are red, purple, black and yellow and spell the word “diva” as they dangle. I donned a red shirt and stuck the diva earrings into my ears.

Do I think I am a diva? Absolutely not, but the earrings make me smile when I see them dangling from my ears. A red shirt added a perk me up to my day that had started much too early.

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Do you ever have those kinds of days, the days when you need something to liven you up? I wanted to add toothpicks to my eyelids to help me keep them open, but since I knew that would hurt too much, I had to settle for the vision of toothpicks holding up my eyes to keep me awake.

Sleepless nights, it happens to the best of us. It doesn’t happen to me too often, but for some reason Thursday morning, I woke up at 1 a.m. ready to start the day. I didn’t go to sleep that early. I had managed to keep my eyes open past the 10 p.m. news so Frank and Amelia on WCCO could bring me up to speed on the happenings of the day. Nothing too earth shattering was happening and so I dragged my weary eyes and weary body to bed around 11 p.m.

I wasn’t sure why I woke up. There were no door handles rattling, indicating my kitties were needing me. There was no thunder or lightening. I had not consumed any food, coffee or wine after 6:30 p.m. and I was not particularly worried about anything. So what was I doing wide awake at 1 a.m.?

It appears many of my Facebook and Twitter friends are awake at 1 a.m., too. I spent a little time with my friends on Facebook hoping having fun with them would tire me out. It didn’t. It was now 2 a.m. so I decided to move my unsleeping eyes into my office and work on computers. The next time I looked at the clock it was 4 a.m. Both Boris and Natasha, the night owl cats, were conked out next to me in the office. I snuck out and turned the lights out on them, letting them sleep. I lifted the shades on my windows to see what was going on in the neighborhood. There were other lights on. Other people were having a hard time sleeping too.

I crawled back into bed, spent more time with Facebook folk thinking how nice it was to have insomnia company, and finally fell asleep at 4:30 a.m. The only problem with falling asleep at 4:30 a.m. is that 6:30 a.m., which is the time I usually get up to start my workday, felt like 11 p.m. to my sleepy eyes.

As I write this, I need those toothpicks and a strong dose of coffee to keep my brain awake as I go about my day. I suspect many people spend their day like this, eyes glazed from a night of non-sleep.

Insomnia in America is a big business these days. We have over-the-counter pills to help us sleep, and then we take pills or caffeine to wake us up. We have sleep studies and sleep clinics. We have sleep therapists and sleep devices. Pages and pages of magazines and newspapers every month have helpful tips to help us sleep. TV doctors spend many hours on programs showing us the latest and greatest ways to fall asleep. What ever happened to counting sheep?

For some, sleepless nights are a very real medical condition that we shouldn’t take lightly. If you are a chronic non-sleeper, make sure you are evaluated by a medical professional. I mean in no way to make light of real sleep problems.

Then there are those of us who can’t turn off our brain to let it rest long enough to let ourselves sleep. There is always one more thing to do before we go to bed. There is always one more idea to put down on paper for the creative types. Or there are those of us who toss and turn and worry that we aren’t sleeping because we have to get up and get to work in the morning, which makes us toss and turn even more.

I don’t have any good advice for you. I am rambling. It is those toothpick eyes that froze my brain on ideas for today’s column. I want to take this time to thank all my Facebook and Twitter friends for sharing the night with me, for making me laugh and for keeping my mind off of the fact that I wasn’t sleeping. Thank you, Facebook and Twitter friends, for keeping the fact from me that as I am writing this, you are at home sleeping in your nice warm beds.

I do have to admit I have my most creative ideas in the middle of the night. Perhaps that is because the hubbub of the outside world is silent, my cats are asleep, my husband is tucked away quietly sleeping and I can sit in the silence and hear what the creative part of me inside of myself is saying. Perhaps for many of us our sleepless nights are caused by an over stimulated day, by worry and problems we can’t let go of long enough to allow our bodies to relax and sleep.

Hopefully I won’t have many sleepless nights, but if I do I can rely on my sleepless Facebook friends to keep me company. Or perhaps my cats could teach me an art or two on relaxing sleep as they seem to never have a problem taking a catnap.

“Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many different ailments, but I have never heard of one who suffered from insomnia.” — Joseph Wood Krutch


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at