Freak-Out-Insomnia and How I Beat It 

Posted on

Some years ago, I had a brush with recurring and persistent insomnia. My way of dealing with it may seem a bit unorthodox, but it worked. Before I tell you what I did, here’s what I didn’t do: I didn’t panic. In fact, I was determined not to go down the dark path of Freak-Out-Insomnia.  

The scourge of sleeplessness

I’ve known some insomnia sufferers. The kind who’ll let you know just how much their sleepless suffering has beaten them up. And all it takes is an innocent, how’s-it-going-kind-of-question for the burden of their sleep-debt to fall your way. 

“I didn’t sleep at all last night,” they’ll confide, in semi-hushed tones infused with both resignation and somber desperation. “And it’s the third night in a row… and it’s been going on for weeks.” All spoken with a voice that’s modulated to convey, in full measure, the utter wretchedness of their sleepless existence. 

Sure, I have a heart, I always feel sorry for them, but what are you really supposed to say? What can you really offer? I usually go with something like: “So sorry. That’s just the pits… hang in there and maybe see a doctor.” But no matter what I say the response is always pretty much the same and it’s always delivered with that same wretched voice: “I’ve tried everything… nothing seems to work.” 

These poor souls had fallen into the deep, dark vortex of Freak-Out-Insomnia

One sufferer’s sorry plight. 

One sufferer really impacted me. Her emotional pain was palpable. Her work performance dropped. Her marriage took a hit. Her husband seemed like a cornered animal, agitated to the max by her distress. Her sleeplessness hovered over her like a heavy, lingering cloud, dropping its gray shades over every aspect of her existence. 

“I’ll never let that happen to me,” I vowed

Benadryl bombed.

So back to my brush with the dreaded scourge of persistent insomnia. I was in my 40s and it just happened. On the first night, I tried my bedtime Benadryl trick – it worked in the usual manner. But then it happened the next night, and then some more. There was no way I was going to let myself become diphenhydramine dependent, so I needed another solution. And here’s what I did: Nothing! That’s right; apart from consistently logging in about 8 hours in the sack each night, I did absolutely nothing. 

Battling back.

Determined not to go down the path of Freak-Out-Insomnia, I didn’t let myself panic. I didn’t complain about it (well, not too much). Instead of worrying about it, I embraced it. 

During those long nights, I would laugh to myself over it: “Isn’t this something? I wonder how long it will last.” I used my sleepless hours to think about positive things: the fun I had doing this or that, the fun that was still to come, the blessings in my life, my faith, my family… those kinds of things. 

After a few weeks, it started to go away. The restful nights began to crowd out the sleepless ones and soon things were back to normal. It turned out there really was no need to panic. Will that approach work for every insomnia sufferer? Maybe, maybe not, but maybe it’s worth a try.