Insomnia is an ugly and unpredictable foe. It also is a somewhat recent addition to my life, recent meaning only in the last 15 years or so.
At one point in the not terribly distant past, I prided myself on the ability to sleep in any situation, a handy talent when my job consisted of long hours on call and being paged to the emergency department all all hours. Back in those good ol’ days, I could grab a 5 minute nap in the doctors’ lounge, put my head down briefly on a desk waiting for lab results or callback from insurance, and I could exist quite well or that maladaptive sporadic sleep until I had the opportunity to sleep in an actual bed.
Something happened to me, though. At some point my body rebelled and now, regardless of exhaustion, surroundings, comfort, or sleep hygiene, I lay with eyes wide open, unable to achieve entrance to the land of Nod. My mind refuses to shut down. My brain’s off switch declining to respond to my requests, replays events, catalogues tasks unaccomplished, ruminates and catastrophizes over potential disasters… And I do not sleep.
Often I will drift off only to find myself wide awake, heart racing with a plethora of anxieties in the wee hours. Trusting to my body’s exhaustion to send me back to dreamland is a really bad joke. So there I lay victim to my own racing thoughts.
What I have found to be helpful on occasion is the television. Documentaries or shows that can distract my brain, but not engage enough interest to keep me from drifting back into sleep.
However, what is the bane of my efforts is the prevalence of infomercials that become omnipresent starting at around 4:00 A.M. Sadly I usually see them even if I’m lucky enough to drift back off, because they are at an elevated volume and are way too excited and dramatic in their speech patterns to fade into “white noise”.
I have discovered that the marketing gurus who came up with the evils of infomercials knew exactly what they were doing. Attack people at their most vulnerable times psychologically! The human brain is a curious thing. The ploys and selling strategies that are completely resistible during the light of day have the power of a hypnotist in the wee hours. The worthless and completely useless dust-collecting doo-dads that are laughable in the light of day gain the value and irresistible aspects of breathing by the glow of the television in a darkened room to sleep-deprived eyes.
You think I’m kidding, but I promise you that I am very far from being an impulse buyer. Typically, I am a person who will see something that appeals to me, have to think about it for a considerable amount of time, put it away on a wish list or back burner, wander around for weeks or months to see if I still want it, and then typically decide I can live without it. Believe me! Loved ones have literally had to give me gift cards that will expire to go get myself new wardrobe items because my clothing started to resemble hobo-chic or something from a retro store … and not in a good way. So, needless to say, I’m not one that might generally be supposed to be in danger of the wiles of the late night/early morning infomercial.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
Yes… I found myself listening to the joy and happiness of people eating out of the “perfect bacon bowl” while designing their new fitness program by individualized plan guaranteed to result in phenomenal weight loss in less than a month! I felt compelled to call the people who exclaimed over their silken, tangle-free hair that had all the shine and brilliance without stripping it of the natural oils that keep it healthy. I was astounded and amazed that I had lived so long without the thing that shocks your abs (and other muscle groups), firming and tightening without so much as a droplet of sweat expelled.
As silly and ridiculous as it sounds, all of the products took on a glow and produced a desire in me that I never could have predicted. I felt my hand twitch and reach for the phone on the bedside table. I wanted to immediately rush to the nearest computer to access the website for quick-ordering… because if I ACT NOW, I CAN GET THREE… THAT’S THREE FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!
It was all I could do to resist the pull of those words. It was like my life depended on the acquisition of this item that would only be available for the NEXT TEN MINUTES!!!
Thankfully, the cat demon that likes to sleep in such a way that I am prevented from moving during the night was roused by my physical reaction to the brainwashing attempts from the screen. He wasn’t terribly pleased by all of this and expressed his dissatisfaction by biting my toe. This was enough to awaken me to the sense of what was happening, and I reached not for the phone, but for the remote and silenced the sales patter with one press of the power button.
Thank goodness cats are immune to the perils of late night infomercials or I would be the proud owner of the Shakeweight, Magic Bullet, Flex Belt, Ninja Juicer, or ThighMaster!