Exhaustion and Insomnia

It’s just after 7pm and I’m worried that I won’t be able to sleep tonight. I’m reasonably tired already, but by the time 9 rolls around, I will have hit a second or third wind. And then I’ll lie awake until well after midnight, unable to wake up for tomorrow’s run, or even early enough to be on time for work tomorrow.

I’m afraid, simply because I dozed off for 15 minutes when I got home from work this evening. I didn’t want to, I tried not to… but I made the mistake of sitting down on the couch, and it happened.

You see, I’ve been exhausted at the end of every work day for several months. The marathon training isn’t to blame, because the exhaustion predates that. Neither is it a matter of not getting enough sleep, because I’m getting a solid 8 hours every night… except for the insomniac nights. Those are the nights, like tonight, when I doze off for brief periods of time upon returning home.

It isn’t that I’m tired during the day. On the contrary, while I’m working I’m fairly invigorated, and my mind is constantly racing, between the code or images I’m working on and thousands of ideas for creative projects or blog posts that I want to begin as soon as I get home. But when I step into the house, my mind is immediately overcome and the overwhelming exhaustion sets in.

I was talking about it with some friends, and one of them suggested that my brain has developed the idea that “being at home equals relaxing”. This would make sense if relaxation was the feeling. But relaxation is sitting down and reading a book, or drawing a picture, or watching a television show. This is something more. If I sit down on anything besides a hard kitchen chair, I will fall asleep. I can’t make it through two pages of a book, or an entire episode of a 30-minute television show.

And when it happens, I am awake until midnight or one in the morning. And waking up at 4 to run before work just isn’t going to happen. Even with the alarm clock on the other side of the bedroom, I practically sleepwalk across the room to snooze, ten to twenty times (three hours) or more.

If I had to guess I’d say the exhaustion started with the kittens. I adopted my cat in February, and she turned out to be pregnant. Suddenly, instead of one cat, I had five. And as they grew, and the people who had volunteered to take them backed out, my house was gradually ceded to their dominion. It wasn’t “home” anymore, it was a house owned by an army of destructive kittens, and my bedroom was the only escape. Rather than “home equals relax”, it was more a matter of “home equals overwhelming stress” and sleep was my only escape. I finally got the kittens all adopted, six months after they were born.

I’ve reclaimed my home, physically, but maybe I just haven’t reclaimed it mentally. So I am making every attempt to stay just as active when at home as I am. Eventually, home will be “home” again. Until then, I will force my brain through the consciousness it seems determined to try to escape.

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