Sleeplessness


When the mind is tired or bored the neural pathways find their own entertainment.

Ekbon syndrome, hereditary acromelalgia, anxietas tibialis, or leg jitters, it sounds neurotic, silly – how can anyone who doesn’t experience restless leg syndrome it take it seriously?

Tensing torture of legs, arms, shoulders, back, an occasional ankle or toe – It’s hard to describe to those who don’t suffer from this affliction. Imagine a network of strings, like those of a marionette, only internal, running between muscle and bone; these strings are relentlessly tightened and released causing an urge to stretch out the afflicted limb to the point of jerking or twitching. It’s not painful as a cramp and others have described the sensation as writhing worms boring into your bones; it’s the unremitting sleep deprivation that is distressing.

They say caffeine makes it worse – I’ve had no coffee for two years with no noticeable improvement.
Exercise helps, but can also exacerbate.
Stress is a contributor, but so is boredom.

Every method of relief that is sworn by for one sufferer, another finds useless. Some medications help some people, but not others. Even those that I’ve found relieving, sometimes aren’t; there seems to be no rhyme or reason for efficacy.

If I’m lucky, a visit to the bathroom, a couple of tablets, a short routine of seated yogic exercises (spinal and hamstring stretches) and snuggle back down to slumber. On a bad night, the exercise becomes more vigorous, leg and arm swings, even rolling around the floor doing sit-ups; eating can help or applying a warm wheat pillow to to the recalcitrant member.

Distraction is also effective; to soothe my rampant limbs, I’ve written some good letters to the local paper on bad nights; getting heated about an issue takes the mind off bodily discomfort.

My nocturnal mania sets in as I hear the gentle rhythmic breathing of my sleeping dogs and occasional staccato spousal snores. The wind blows, rain falls, possum wheezes, hedgehog fossicks: the sounds of night. Across the dark sky clouds billow, stars sparkle, hackneyed words maybe, but exactly appropriate. I look for Orion, the constellation’s passage marks how long I’ve been awake.

Full moon, no moon, months pass through the seasons. Although now It’s mid-summer the nights are already lengthening, dawn no longer at half five but inching past six.  For me the avian calls that welcome the dawn are still hours away.

Awake, digital time rolls over
minute by minute, luminous green;
no seconds ticking by
in metronomic melody
to soothe midnight thoughts
weaving patterns of mental modalities,
nocturnal dalliance on diurnal banalities.

Silent seconds barely pass with each tossing turn.
Focus breath, consciously release
toes, ankles, calves, thighs
belly, arms;
shrug off care’s burden
that on shoulders lies.

Relentlessly tension’s rhapsody reprises:

Jaws clench, brows knit, lips purse,
mind engages.

A blackbird sings,
false herald of a distant dawn.

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