A random nighttime observation

Last night as I was attempting to fall asleep I had an epiphany of sorts. I figured out what it is that makes it difficult to fall asleep and why quiet rooms are really annoying to me. It’s really rather silly that it took me so long to have this epiphany. I guess it goes to show how much the mind can dismiss even the most annoying of things as normal.

You see, I have tinnitus, meaning a ringing in my ear(s). Most people have experienced this a few times in their lifetime, usually after exposure to really loud sounds or music. Some lucky few like myself experience it much more frequently or even continuously. I notice it when it’s quiet, but it’s pretty much always there. Noise that varies in pitch and tone, music or talking, gives me something else to focus on and it recedes to such a low volume that I don’t realize it’s there. More often than not something like reading, writing, or some other endeavor that requires my attention will also distract me from the sound though it isn’t guaranteed. It’s loudest at night when there’s little noise beyond the humming of the fan and maybe the heater or a/c if one is on. Even though I’m used to the sound, it’s still really annoying and does keep me from falling asleep easily. It also may be an explanation for why I have trouble focusing or hearing things in an environment where lots of people are talking. My brain is so used to disregarding noises that are constant, which the hum of talking easily turns into, and the ringing will get really loud in such an environment.

Have I mentioned that I feel really silly for not experiencing this “epiphany” earlier?

Most people who experience it will hear it in one ear or the other, though for people like me who hear it constantly it is more common to be stuck with it in stereo. The chronic version tends to be caused by a head injury, medication side effects or significant damage to the ear drums from frequent exposure to loud and pounding sounds for an extended time. I don’t recall when I started to hear it, so it’s possible to could have been caused either by medication, a frequent culprit being antibiotics, or in high-school from winter drumline, or my time in the army when we were firing weapons, frequently without hearing protection. I’ve had a concussion once or twice, but nothing truly serious (if you can consider a blow to the head “not serious”.)

I’m really not sure what I can do with any of this information. There aren’t many things that can be done for tinnitus. Ear plugs make it worse. White noise is almost as bad as ear plugs. If I fall asleep to music I have a more difficult time waking up to any typical alarm. That’s without considering the fact that it would drive my husband crazy. Ah well. At least I like music for its own sake rather than the added benefit of making this silly ringing a little less annoying.

Who needs sleep?

“Who needs sleep? Well you’re never gonna get it! Who needs sleep? Tell me what’s that for? Be happy with what you’re getting! There’s a guy who’s been awake since the Second World War.”

These are the lyrics that come to mind tonight. I haven’t been falling asleep before 2am for the last… four days? Prior to that I was falling asleep earlier in the night or morning, mainly because there was someone else encouraging me to do so. Even then it was taking me longer to fall asleep and I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night several times over.

Not awesome. Though it does bring to mind a highly amusing and awesome song. That’s always good and makes for good times. Very tired, sort of confused and slow good times, but good times none-the-less.

The song is “Who Needs Sleep” (surprising, I know) by the Barenaked Ladies, just in case you were wondering. It’s a very typical BNL song – bouncy and light and a little odd/weird when you listen to the words. I’m pretty sure they look through the DSM and try to figure out how to make a song about a particular disorder or symptom. Isnomnia (duh), depression, suicide, psychosis, schizophrenia, OCD, addiction, alcohol addiction, fetishes, and probably many others that I am unable to think of at the moment. The funny thing is that most people don’t actually realize how many songs are about such things. Some are obvious, Alcohol is about, well alcohol. Falling for the First Time is OCD, also pretty obvious. Pinch Me and When I Fall are all about depression and suicide which may not be quite as obvious until you actually think about the lyrics.

When I Fall is actually one of my absolute favorite BNL songs. It’s a toss up between The Flag, When I Fall, and Blame it on Me. Blame it on Me has some really great memories from high school when I frequented the choir room and got to watch and help my friends and boyfriend practice and perform an a’capella version of the song. Those were some of my favorite moments. The Flag is almost as pretty but is even darker and reminds me of my relationship with my ex. And When I Fall is another very pretty song but unlike the other two seems to hold a wee bit of hope in that the character is asking for someone to help him. All three mean a lot to me. Though, to be fair, trying to determine which BNL song is a favorite is sort of like asking me to say what my favorite episode of The Big Bang Theory or Doctor Who or Firefly. It’s really not fair.

Anywho, none of this is helping me with falling asleep. Well, beyond letting me vent and process things a bit. Even if I do get some sleep tonight I don’t think it’s going to be quite enough. I’m prepared for just that possibility. Two Starbucks drinks, a Dr. Pepper, chocolate and energy chews are all part of my plan for the morning. They’re already in my car so I can’t forget them. Yep, that desperate for caffeine and I haven’t even gone to bed so I can wake up for it. *sigh*

Anywho, for those of you who haven’t heard the song that inspired this entire post, here it is for your listening pleasure.