I always have sleep problems of one sort or another, but last night's sort is one of my very least favorites. It's only happened about three times before: a situation where just as I start to fall asleep, something that my body is doing as it falls asleep wakes me up.

The first time, many years ago, was a sort of a loud snoring noise that I was making as I fell asleep. I couldn't figure out why this loud noise kept waking me until I finally realized it was coming from me. I was sick and was at a friend's house, and eventually I found this stuff called "NyQuil" in the friend's medicine cabinet and took one and fell asleep immediately. I've been using NyQuil (gel capsules, not liquid) religiously ever since (though it's become less effective for me over time).

The second time, years after the first but still some years back, I was sick and at another friend's house, and some sort of gunk was clogging up my nose and throat in such a way that I couldn't quite breathe when I fell asleep. Various drugs did no good; I spent a few days sleeping sitting up, which seemed to work a little better.

The latest time was a couple days ago. After several hours of drifting off and then waking with a start, every couple of minutes, I finally reached a point where I was awake enough to remember the miracle of NyQuil, and I took one and went to sleep.

And then last night. Two NyQuils and some Valerian made me nicely sleepy, but did nothing to prevent me from jolting awake every time I started to fall asleep, over and over and over. Half my nose is stuffed up, so I was breathing through my mouth; that wouldn't normally be a problem, but I've also got a sore throat, and I think something in my throat was cutting off my air supply every time I drifted off. It wasn't until after 7 a.m. that I thought of trying cough syrup; that actually worked, but only for an hour, and then I was back to jolting awake. So I got about an hour's sleep last night, plus about a hundred 10-second mini-sleeps. On the plus side, during the periods when I decided to stop even trying to sleep, I read several stories from Trampoline, which I recently noticed I had never gotten around to finishing.

I'm remarkably wide awake at the moment, and I can probably apply some caffeine later to stay that way. But I sure hope I can sleep tonight, or I'll be a total wreck tomorrow.

(I suspect that this entry will elicit a flood of advice on how best to get to sleep, so I should reiterate that falling asleep isn't the problem this time around; it's staying asleep. I'm guessing if I can soothe my throat sufficiently before I go to bed, and/or if I can unclog my nose so I can breathe through it, then there won't be a problem. I hope.)

5 Responses to “Sleepless”

  1. Heather Shaw

    No advice, just empathy. That is the worst kind of sleep disorder, and I hate it when that happens!! I hope you get some good rest soon, Jed!

    Ok, a tiny bit of advice (if you haven’t already tried it): try propping yourself up on pillows so you’re at an angle. If you’re stuffed up, this can help keep it from collecting in your head/ throat.

  2. Jed

    Thanks, Heather! Yeah, I forgot to mention the part where I spent part of last night propped up (actually pretty much sitting up, propped on pillows against the walls in the corner where my bed is) hoping to keep nose/throat clearer, but to no avail—the same thing happened as when I was lying down.

  3. Colin


    Two suggestions:

    1. The magic of vicks vapor. They now have a cream instead of the awful vaseline based slop. If that’s not your style, they have a good product called vapomist which is designed to go into a humidifier/steam vaporizer.

    2. Doubtless you aren’t a big football fan, but if you’ve ever seen those funny strips on the players noses in pictures, they actually work. I got a free sample of the Breathe Right strips and was pleasantly surprised to see they did work. If you need help with congestion, why, they make them infused with Vicks as well! (yes I sound like a corporate whore, but the stuff really does work and has helped me through a lot of asthma related sleepless nights.)

  4. Catherine O

    have you ever gone and done a sleep study? It sounds like you might have some trouble with sleep apnea.

  5. SarahP

    While I’m a big fan of The Velvet Hammer (NyQuil), it can do weird things to your sleep, like make you feel really, really sleepy like you’re being sucked down into a dark whirlpool…yet not quite able to fall asleep.


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