Sleeping Like a Baby Boomer: Insane Insomnia

Maybe you baby boomers have seen the cartoon of a doctor telling a patient, “Insomnia is very common. Try not to lose any sleep over it.”

Ha,ha. I’m not laughing. Instead I’m begging for mercy from the sleep fairy.


During my worse insomnia laden nights, I’m an expert on infomercials. Just ask me anything about nose hair clippers, egg timers, chopper/shredders, and at-home laser hair removal.

When I give in to exhaustion and turn off the TV – even though I know exhaustion doesn’t equal sleep anymore – the minute my head hits the pillow, I start worrying about stupid stuff that seems downright silly in the light of day.

When I finally fall asleep, an hour later my eyes burst open and I’m wide awake, endlessly fascinated with the internal workings of my digital clock and checking to see if anyone else is miserable and awake like me on Facebook.

I’m not alone. Many baby boomers suffer from insomnia. Some have additional problems that mess with their sleep like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Others find that the simple act of sleeping which they took for granted their whole lives just got a whole lot more complicated for no apparent reason.

Oh, remember the delightful days in our youth when we actually chose to forego sleep? Partying into the wee hours, lacing our shoes for a brisk jog at dawn, or just talking all night on the phone with our best friend? Those were the days. Now that we desperately want to sleep, it’s nowhere to be found.

Which makes us that old stereotypical cranky person the next day. So, if you’re one of those people that still sleeps like a baby – you can just leave now. I’m extremely jealous and we’re not talking. And while I’m on the subject, a note to my hubby who falls asleep the minute his head hits the pillow: I love you, but just so you know, I feel like smacking you silly for blissfully sleeping while I’m subtracting how many hours of sleep I can get if I can just fall asleep NOW. My math skills are improving but I’m feeling awfully irritable. By the way, it’s absolutely true. The one who snores always goes to sleep first.

I first shared some of these thoughts about insomnia as a writer for Hot Flash Daily. Because I always slept like a baby until menopausal madness began. The worst part of menopause was not the hot flashes you hear about it all the time. For me, it was the insomnia.

Six years have passed and I’m officially post menopausal. The insomnia isn’t as constant but it still enjoys visiting me occasionally during tortuous nights. Because it turns out menopause isn’t the only cause for insomnia. Just getting older can do the trick as well.

According to a poll by National Sleep Foundation, older people were more likely to wake up a lot during the night. Wow, you needed a survey to come up with that conclusion?

Now that I think about it, I probably should go easier on hubby, Like many older men, he does have to get up in the middle of the night to pee now. Hee, hee. Sorry, but that does make me feel better. It’s true, misery enjoys company.

In addition, to making us insomniacs cranky the next day, the malady comes with many other blessings as well. Studies show that sleep problems contribute to weight gain. Geez, isn’t it bad enough that getting older and being post menopausal are making me fat? This I don’t need. Oh goody, guess I better run out and buy some more stretch pants.

And let’s not even talk about losing the ability to concentrate. Isn’t age making me forgetful enough? As a freelance writer who needs to think straight and meet deadlines…um, where, was I…? Let’s just say insomnia is not helpful to my career.

Worse yet, I read that people with chronic insomnia have an elevated risk of death. I’m visualizing death by insomnia on my tombstone. Could life be any crueler?

Oh, everyone has a solution for me. Don’t nap during the day. Go to bed at the same time each night. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed. Exercise regularly. Don’t you think I’ve already tried all that?

Sure, warm milk works for me – if it’s laced with Ambien.

Oh, I’ve read the horror stories of people having forgetful sex with the mailman down the street, eating a block of cheese, and driving to Vegas in their sleep after taking the drug. Which made taking my first Ambien extremely scary. Thankfully, I just slept. To my knowledge.

But since I only take Ambien on rare occasions because I don’t want to get addicted, this leaves me many loooooong nights as a sleepless sucker, forever grateful for my midnight hour friends, Netflix, Candy Crush, and Facebook.

If you’re like me and suffer from insomnia, please share your misery in the comments below. As I mentioned before, misery loves company. I’d love to hear all about it. If you don’t have insomnia, why are you still here? Oh, I’m just kidding. Please share your secrets to success. We insomniacs would love to know!

Image courtesy of debspoons at





Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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11 Responses

  1. James Milson says:

    Getting to sleep is seldom a problem here if I avoid a soda or caffeine after dinner. During the evening, I only drink herbal teas and finish with a cup of Chamomile Tea an hour or so before bedtime. It helps me get to sleep. One of my sons says it is all in head, but I just reply “Who cares where it is if it’s working.” Before you grab the baseball bat, my issue is not getting to sleep but staying asleep more than two hours at a time, as pain is 24/7 here and never sleeps. Wake up, change position, and try to start all over again. I too, keep doing the math all night — how many hours til the alarm goes off? And sometimes after 4am or so just throw in the towel and get up. Good luck with it! 🙂

    • juliegorges says:

      Baseball in check – love that you share my sense of humor! Thanks for the tips. Sometimes tea seems to help me as well. And so sorry about all the pain! As we age, that seems to be a big part of the problem with lack of sleep.

  2. Cat MIchaels says:

    Oh my! How torublesome! My dad had trouble sleeping, too. I usually sleep through the night unless I am travelling or have a meeting yje next day; however, I am a night owl, getting by on 6 or 7 hours of sleep. So far, so good. Wishing you sweet dreams, truly!

  3. A lot of us who have introvert brain wiring can relate to this issue, at least when it comes to turning the mind off. I’ve found that turning off all electronic devices at least an hour before going to bed helps. I also sometimes take a homeopathic sleep aid. To stop my own thoughts once I hit the bed, I read gentle literature (Barbara Pym is my favorite author), and when I feel sleepy, I turn out the light and turn on a book-on-cd on low volume (again, gentle literature, such as Alexander McCall Smith) so I can focus on someone else’s thoughts. Music doesn’t work for me; it has to be words.

  4. Oh, sister, I hear ya! Between hot flashes (that are now thankfully subsiding) and hubs wiggling around, I found myself getting very, very cranky about waking up in the middle of the night. I started practicing yoga (with all the meditation that involves), and while I am generally the most sarcastic chick you’ll ever meet (and the least likely yogi), I must admit that it does help. I also started trying to train myself to quit getting pissed off when I wake up! It seemed to make it worse! I reasoned with myself that if I get tired in the day, I’ll take a nap. I keep my e-reader beside my bed, and when I wake up for more than 5 minutes, I just consider it an opportunity to read some more in that great book! The good news – the farther into menopause I get, it seems the insomnia is decreasing. So come on ahead, I’ll go first…

  5. Maddy says:

    Well I am still here and yes, I have suffered chronic insomnia in the past. Could that be why I got fat? No, I think it was the food.
    In later years I sleep pretty well but being semi-retired I don’t really fret if I am up at 3.00am so I don’t call it insomnia any more.

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