Maybe you need a chest.

So I’m sitting up late, normally the case lately. At my computer, it’s 3:23am. I have trouble sleeping. Not just today. Many days. Someone yesterday said: “Oh that’s so lucky, I wish I only needed that little sleep”. I wailed: “But I don’t! I need lots of sleep! I’m perpetually tired and sleep-deprived!”

Though I’ve had sleep problems since I was a teen, there have been phases in my life where I slept just fine thank you very much. There was even a time in the not-so-distant past when I would go to bed as early as 10, be fast asleep by 11, and still suffer to get up at 7. In those days, the waking up part was the toughie. Snooze was the name of the game. I can play that game for hours. I dreamed up strange devices that would force me out of bed, some way to keep me from ignoring the annoying alarm and the rational ‘get up’ thoughts. The inventions in my head included some foot-censor pads in the shower that would ring until your feet actually got on them. Someone should make that. I should make it. Can’t be bothered. Too tired. Reminds me of the Ingrid Michaelson song “… I want to change the world, instead I sleep” (

I also was so impressed when I read about Clocky, that alarm clock that actually jumps off your nightstand, runs away from you, and hides under your bed. Invented by a beautiful grad student at MIT. Who often overslept of course. (

In the absence of my own theoretical shower foot pad invention (yes we need a better name) and of Clocky, I resorted to hiding my alarm in a box, in an attic height closet, so I’d have to get out of bed, get a chair, stand on said chair, open said closet, open said box, get the clock out and turn the alarm off. Sounds like an effective antidote for snoozing doesn’t it? No. I’d just go straight back into my warm and beautiful bed.

Maybe we should install cold-water sprinklers in our bedrooms to wake us up. No one wants to get back into a cold and wet bed. Ew. But the thought is too nightmarish and concentration camp-like, I’d rather suffer the wakeup normally.

Anyway at some point it changed into not being able to fall asleep and not being able to stay asleep. Getting out of bed in the morning is still hard, but nothing compared to the anguish that I know many of you have felt: Lying in the dark in your bed, tired, desperate to sleep. Too tired to even get up and do something constructive. You feel the hours passing and feel how it’s getting closer and closer to morning, and then you see the morning light and you finally just give in to the risibility of the moment. You open your eyes and see people signing into facebook who you know have just woken up for work.

So I researched. I decided to find out about everything sleep-related. I asked a therapist. I asked a psychiatrist. I asked a regular MD. I went to a specialized sleep clinic in a hospital where you spend the night and try to sleep and they stick electrodes on you and watch you through a glass wall. Kinda like being abducted by aliens conducting experiments. They all said sleeplessness would only be in phases, and I’d sleep fine in other phases. At my most desperate point, when I my eyes were closing at work and I felt like I was speaking in slow motion, I asked my friend in New York who also has trouble sleeping what she does when she’s tired at work, and she said she hides in the bathroom and tries to sleep for 15 minutes. I tried so many natural sleep aids that I turned into a Valeriana plant (, and when that didn’t work, I tried (with my physician) three different types of sleep medication (aside from ‘panadol night’- candy) and none worked, and all are bad for you.

And I asked friends and family. And they had loads of advice: Don’t eat late. Exercise (I do). Read boring books. Don’t have a tv in your room (by the way I’d die before I ever got a tv in my bedroom. A bedroom is for sleep, sex, and maybe pets and/or kids jumping up on lazy Sunday mornings). Drink chamomile and yanssoun. Do breathing exercises (will always do). Acupuncture (those needles in my forehead didn’t help me relax). Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon (I’m so afraid of coffee now that the latest I’d ever have one is 9am). Don’t be worried/anxious  (never been more relaxed and worry-free in my life). Keep your bedroom a cool temperature (it always is and that’s the way I like it anyway). Take a cold shower before bed. Take a hot shower before bed. (one alludes to the science that the body needs to drop a degree in temperature in order to sleep, the other alludes to the simple relaxation of a hot bath). Both don’t do sh*t for me. Shower = wide-awake for me. Put lavender essence on your pillow (didn’t help but smells so lovely- thanks Dad).

Tonight as I was leaving a party, the host, B, said: Should I ask you to missed call me when you get home? (a safety precaution we use in Lebanon to make sure people get home safe, not sure it is used elsewhere or that it even has any function, but I like it). But my poor friend was clearly falling asleep and actually leaning on the wall as he showed us out. His wife said to him: “you’ll be asleep as soon as the door is closed, way before any missed call”. We all laughed and I told him he was blessed with such easy sleep. Proceeded to mention my sleep issues, just briefly, and the 5 girls there all gave me versions of the advice listed above. Finally B said: “maybe you need a chest”. All of us went blank and I was thinking: a chest? Why would I want to sleep on a large box? Then little by little we began to laugh as it dawned on each of us that what he meant was a man’s chest. That maybe what I needed to get a night of peaceful respite was to rest my head on someone’s chest. I don’t know if he’s right, but it was wonderful to hear a new idea for once. The girls then discussed the fact that the chest lean is much more uncomfortable than it looks and is only bearable for a couple of minutes, but that’s beside the point, and sleeping positions can be tackled in another post. It’s now 4:10am and I shall try to sleep.


24 thoughts on “Maybe you need a chest.

  1. A suggestion from my signification other, who also has the exact same issues as you – drink wine before you sleep. She usually has these issues sleeping, but every time she has a glass of wine before sleeping, or in the hours to lead to sleeping, she knocks out flat. Nothing wakes her up. Try that perhaps?

    • Thanks so much! So kind of both of you! Yes red wine used to do the trick for me. It still makes me a bit sleepy, but doesn’t quite cut it. But I’ll keep trying. It’ll be your fault if my next problem is alcoholism!!!!! haha

  2. I think your friend B is onto something, Blushing. As terribly co-dependent as it may sound, I never sleep quite as well on my own as I do with someone in my bed. And not just anyone. If it’s a friend I’m often uncomfortable, and I’ll always choose to take a single bed on my own, or sleep on a couch over sharing. If it’s a guy I’m not convinced I like that much or I’m thinking of ending things with, or, conversely, someone I quite like who I’m worried is not that crazy about me, I hardly sleep at all. But if it’s the right person, I can sleep with my head on their chest all night. Besides, as cute as Clocky sounds, who wants to wake up to something that runs away from you?!

  3. Normalmente el cuerpo descansa en el sueño, y la mente descansa en el cuerpo…he llegado a correr tras mis fantasmas nocturnos para buscar ese otro que me aleja de mi realidad, ese que siempre llamo “yo” cuando hablo de mi. Aveces crees que no puedes dormir, pero en realidad estas dormida/o, aunque tus ojos siguen abiertos, los ojos de to “yo” interno se cierran para acercarte de ese lugar que nunca quisiste conocer… “tu”…hubo épocas en las que seguia despierto durante semanas preguntando me como segui aun con vida…luchando contra la oscuridad de la noche para llegar al dia de un dia que tan soo acababa de empezar. Mi vida es tan distinta a la que soli tener una vez, cuando an vivia y disfrutaba de las simples cosas, cuando tu pegabas sobre cartones espina violetas y que las cortina de habitación eran blancas de algodón…

    En mis noches los sueños hacen cola para ser soñados pero aun no llego a conciliar entre mis ojos cerrados….ayuda me a mirar…


    • Eres tan poético … escribes tan bien en español, ya has comentado en francés acqui no? Me encanta la idea de perseguir a los fantasmas de su mismo… y sus sueños que esperan en la esquina de tu mente. Lo que escribiste hace inmediatamente un dibujo en mi cabeza. No una imagen o una foto, pero un dibujo, con garabatos negros…

  4. I love reading your post. It kept me hooked and waiting for the ending (kind of). Well I never had this experience before…I sleep very fast (blushing) and I sleep long hours hehe….Maybe your friend has a point, recently I discovered that you can go to deep sleep when you are sleeping beside your BF/GF, it depends on the body language, scent and harmony….You should try it maybe “The Chest” will be your Doctor hehehe ;)

    • You are lucky! I’m sure my sleeplessness will pass too… There have been so many changes in my life lately, that’s probably why. I like what you said about body language, scent, and harmony :-)

  5. I love the humor! The 1st part of the sleep post made me laugh so hard… then I felt bad in the 2nd part cause I felt how hard it must be not be able to sleep… I went through all the emotions in that post… Love it!

    • I guess it’s a great compliment that it made you go through a range of emotions… and I’m happy you only felt what it’s like not be able to sleep from a blog and not from real life… <3

  6. I have the miracle concoction for sleeplessness! it’s a mixture of chinese mushrooms, camomile, melatonin, and a ton of other natural and herbal extracts! It’s called “Lights Off”!!! serious! (hoping that the promise of sleep will bring you to Cali for a visit… cos it’s only sold here! :P)

  7. Maybe you have words unspoken, and you can’t sleep while having you talking to yourself all the time instead of saying these words to the people who need to hear them (i hope what i’m saying makes sense).
    putting all the advices and theories aside, I really like the way you write and describe things, i almost see the people and the places, it’s a pleasant journey every time i read your posts, i think you write with a paint brush.

    • It makes perfect sense… It’s strange, you’re all helping me and I feel like I’m getting closer to unlocking the secret of my sleep. ‘Writing with a paint brush’ is just about the most beautiful analogy I’ve heard. Is it an analogy or a metaphor? Hmmm.

  8. I’m going to semi-second that last post: if you can’t sleep, maybe you’re feeling restless about something or your mind is talking too much. Think back to when this started and consider how or why it may have started.

    The part about the chest reminded me of an episode I watched of the Tyra Banks show a few years ago. To help women get over breakups, a chest pillow was invented. It consists of an upper torso and an arm that’s bent up and back.

    • You’re right. And I’ve been thinking about it since I wrote the post… I thought that because I didn’t feel anxious or worried, it meant I wasn’t, but a friend helped me realize yesterday that there could be something I’m thinking about without knowing it (sounds obvious I know). That pillow you’re talking about sounds absolutely insane! And pretty scary! But I’d rather have insomnia than sleep on a fake man.

  9. I have other problem, Blushing. I hate going to bed! because that means another day is over!!! (what did I achieve then? Almost nothing! :s ) and even If I went to bed early I will sleep but only for few hours and I find myself up!!

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  11. I’m not sure if I need a chest to sleep – they usually get too warm! I think, I like the idea of my other half being beside me whilst I sleep (he works away – and I always sleep very peacefully when he is home). After years of trial and error I found that a cool temperature room works best for me. And I downloaded a couple of relaxation apps to my phone, which on first listening sound a little creepy/funny – but they do work!

    Good luck Blushing x

    • I also like a cool temperature bedroom. Curious about your phone apps, I should give those a try. Hope you’ll have more and more nights where your better half is home! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Hi there,

    Not sure that people need a pill, a magic potion, a chest or even a treasure to sleep. Not sure it is because you have worries, are stressed or anxious.

    I’d rather think that people just need a heart. Theirs, or somebody else’s.

    A picture to sum up my thoughts.

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