a woman with insomnia laying in her bed and laughing while surrounded by lots of pillows and feathers

My Ridiculous Insomnia Ritual

Last updated: May 2023

We have all heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” In many cases, I believe it to be true. I am going to take it a step further and say that laughing at yourself could quite possibly be the best remedy of them all.

When you are at your wits’ end, a little humor can make a bad situation less intense, more bearable, and actually manageable. As a person living with insomnia, you will take every moment of levity that comes your way.

I must be quite a sight!

My nights are long and filled with a lot of time to think – we are talking hours. A few nights ago, I wandered down a trail of thoughts that ended in a gale of stifled laughter and a few hours of fitful yet welcome sleep.

Sometime after settling into bed, I began to think of what I must look like lying in bed trying to will myself to sleep. What followed was a series of the most ridiculous mental images possible. The longer I thought about it, the more tickled I became.

The pillow fort foolishness

Every night begins the same way. I arrange my pillows in hopes of striking on some magical combination. With 1 pillow under my head and 2 along each side of my body, I start to fluff my nest. At 5 feet 11 inches, I must look like Big Bird tucking himself in. It takes some strategic movements, but eventually, my head sinks into the dent in my orthopedic pillow, not unlike Dracula retiring at dawn.

Once my head is in position, the real work begins. I am 1 of those people who needs to be covered from head to toe in order to fall asleep. I literally leave a sliver of space just big enough for my breath to pass through. I have never measured this space, but I would bet I come within a centimeter of having it the same size every single night. (It takes many years to perfect that kind of obsession.)

In order to achieve optimum coverage, I work with those pillows like a cat circling its napping spot. Over and over, I push, pull, tug, tuck, and even jerk in order to make sure the stack of pillows is high enough to hide 99.9 percent of my face. It’s a job.

Getting a leg up on sleep

There’s also legwork involved in this show. After the pillows are arranged to my satisfaction, I go about the daunting task of finding just the right angle for each leg. There are several different combinations from which to choose, and I never begin and end on the same ones.

It’s rare for me to go with the vampire-style both feet together position. I normally wind up settling with either the right-flamingo or left-flamingo look. (I don’t know that either of those need to be explained – they are exactly as ridiculous as they sound.)

Taking a bite out of insomnia

The final step in creating this spectacle deals with my mouthguard. Yes. You read that correctly. There is also an awkward mouthguard involved in this comedy of errors. The bulky insert is a fairly new addition to my routine and arrived on the scene as a result of a TMJ diagnosis. (Good times.)

Even though I have worn it for a little over 3 months, I’m still not able to just pop it in and feel satisfied. The last thing I do before I think about allowing my body to grow still is to bite down a few times on the wax – like I am chewing the most disappointing piece of gum known to man. Then, and only then, am I ready to face the night.

A little laughter never hurt anyone

It was somewhere between the seventh pull on the pillow fort and the third chomp on the mouthguard that the absurdity hit me. I pictured myself with 1 knee bent, my entire upper body buried under an avalanche of bedding, and my nostrils barely visible between the folds of the pillowcases, and I giggled.

Then, I stifled a chuckle. Before I could stop myself, I was laughing out loud. You know what? It felt good. If you can find the humor in insomnia, you can find a way to cope. And that might just mean starting with laughing at yourself – or at me and my flamingo legs.

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