This morning when I woke up at five, an hour before the alarm was supposed to go off, my brain was already going a million miles an hour. This happens to me fairly often, and it occurs at different times of the day and night.
Sometimes it will happen when I am driving in my car. I openly admit, and only because it is not illegal and would be difficult to prove if it were, that my daily twenty-five mile commute is done by robo-me. What I mean is that I get in my car, pull out of the driveway, go deep into my head and come to as I’m getting off of the highway thirty minutes later two blocks from work. During that thought-coma, I ponder all of the things that worry me or that I want to change, or I rehash conversations and events that happened recently, or I imagine conversations that I should have had or wish I had had. It’s a little scary when I realize I have arrived and have no recall of actually making the drive. I always say a little prayer of thanks to the gods of auto-pilot and swear I will never do it again.
Often this happens when I am trying to fall asleep late at night, with the six a.m. alarm looming. Just knowing that can make it even worse, since I then get frantic as my brain won’t shut off and the hours of sleep slip away. Occasionally, and this is the worst, my brain will wake me up in the middle of the night and not shut off. I know that at 2 a.m. there is nothing I can do to solve problems, talk to people, complete tasks; but it doesn’t stop those worries from chasing themselves around like my two cats are doing right now. When this happens, I wind up think-yelling at myself: STOPPPPP, STOPPPP, SLEEEEEP, SLEEEEP…and after a while I can usually doze off again.
I have decided that these thoughts are actually fixations. This is me obsessing over the little things in my life that I cannot contemplate while actually living my life; and so they wait on the sidelines not too patiently shoving each other to get to the front of the line and as soon as I lie down or sit down for a quiet moment, BAM! The party starts. Idle hands are the devils’ work? I think this is a cute phrase that means downtime is obsession time. Do I keep myself so busy on purpose, unconsciously so I do not have time or energy to spend on thinking? I do not like the idea of that- the idea that I am running from my thoughts and worries by constantly doing. I prefer the mantra I will sleep when I’m dead to explain how I can still go go go at my age without winding up in a mental institution.
I just wish there were more hours in the day, so I could do everything I want to do and still have lots of downtime to think about it all. Hmm, let me ponder that….
I can relate to this way too much. Once I wake up, I cannot go back to sleep because my mind never stops…ever. I think of things I forgot to do, like you…things I should have said or done, things that I need to do…anything. And when my creative brain wakes me or keeps me awake, I’ve learned to just get up and spill out whatever it is that’s taking up the space in my head.
I knew I wasn’t alone! I am afraid to get up because then I feel like it’s hopeless that I will ever get back to sleep. But maybe I should try it sometime just to see. Sigh
I have to try really hard to not let my mind start clicking away when I wake up in the middle of the night. Otherwise, that’s it for me!
What is your secret??
Sleep dysregulation (which is what is described–difficulty falling off, mid-sleep awakening, waking early) is a symptom of depression/anxiety. It’s also a symptom of fibromyalgia. It’s not normal nor healthy.
Thanks for the tip 🙂