Insomnia in a Small Space

Editor’s note: This is a real-time post, so to speak, so all photos were taken in the dark with low lighting. That’s my excuse, anyway.

You guys know I am a terrible sleeper and always have been.

Back when I lived in a house (oh, way back before retirement and the coronavirus and life in this campground—eons ago!), I had particular go-to routines when I couldn’t sleep, activities that would comfort me in the Deep Dark Night (aka DDN; thanks for the term, Sleep with Me Podcast).

Back then I could roam the house, turning on dim lights, clanking around in the kitchen, even making a fire in the fireplace—I really love a cracking fire in a quiet, dark house late at night.

Obviously none of that works here in the Airstream. So what do I do?

Step 1: Get out of Bed

I get out of bed anywat because a) I’m usually tired of spinning my wheels there motionless and b) sleep peeps recommend you disassociate being in bed from wakefulness (and therefore think “sleep” when you are in bed).

Even this first step in navigating insomnia in the trailer is tricky, literally. I need to find my robe and slippers in dark, in the small aisle by my bed, then step around to the foot of the bed and try not to step right on top of Banjo.

Amazingly, she sleeps right through nearly every kind of accidental kick or step-on, at most giving me a concerned look, like, “What are you doing awake? Be smart like me and go back to sleep,” which she promptly does.

By the way, that bunched-up curtain above her is my new attempt to create a border between the bedroom and the rest of the trailer. There’s a built-in accordion-style door you can pull from out of the wall and seal shut, but Banjo’s in the way.

True to form, she will let me pull her bed a foot forward so I can slide the door closed behind her, but then that door is closed, and I have to unlatch it to get back in the bedroom, plus in the morning after our walk when Banj wants to go tell Tracy all about it, she barges under the door to get to him in bed, which bends it and will eventually break it. So, I am trying a curtain. I still have to hem it; hence the bulge.

Back to this insomnia story.

So I step around Banjo and pull the curtain closed, and now what?

Step 2: Cook Something

First, I’d like to make tea, but

  • last night’s dishes are drying on the stove top, so I’d have to put them away, then
  • fill the kettle,
  • light the propane burner (that makes a huge POP!),
  • open the tightly-shut closet/pantry to find the tea, and
  • open the fridge to get the milk—

all of which makes an extraordinary amount of noise in a silent, small space, with Tracy sleeping just a few feet away and only a curtain between us.

He has told me a hundred times, no exaggeration, that I’m not bothering him and that I should do whatever I want with noise and lights, but I just can’t make myself be loud no matter what he says. I’m working on that.

When I am desperate enough to turn on a light and make the noise necessary to cook, along with tea this is my current go-to comfort food.

It’s quick, warm, and low-fat, which is a bargain because my other DDN comfort food is instant mac and cheese. Oddly, my friend Joel also makes mac and cheese in the middle of the night, and we both agree it has to be Kraft and you can’t add actual cheese to it. That befouls the inherent creaminess. Do not add cheese.

Re: the pho though, the bummer is twofold.

1) There are amazingly four packets of ingredients you have to open to assemble this, and each one makes that noise people make in movie theaters when they’re rustling through their candy bags trying to get the last M&M out and you want to stand up and shout at them. When I’m making this in the DDN I want to shout at myself. It’s ridiculous how much noise and extra plastic these things produce.

2) The worst part is that I can only find these at Costco, and we dropped our membership when we moved into the Airstream because we have so little storage here. So my supplies are precious.

This is long-winded—are you still with me?

Step 3: Make a Nest on the Couch

No fireplace, no softly lit candles (I left mine back in the old life), but I do have a comfy couch, and on occasion Banjo feels sympathy for me and jumps up to snuggle.

Here is where I read, or knit, or put in my earbuds and listen to that podcast or to music—or I blog—until I feel sleepy enough to try the bed again.

Which I think I’ll do right now. Wish me luck.

And if you’re awake in the Deep Dark Night tonight, know you’re not alone.

8 thoughts to “Insomnia in a Small Space”

    1. No joke! I slept really well the first week we were here and thought that might be a reason, but now I think I’m just back on cyclical insomnia. I have ZERO on my to-do list today though, so YAY! I would rub it in but it’s Saturday so you’re not working either.

  1. Good morning Shelly! I hope you got a good night sleep after all. If this your night blogging works, great! I just wonder, can you open any windows in your Airstreamer, like to get some fresh air when sleeping? And, what are the conditions out there, like bugs, mosquitos and such? Have they arrived yet?
    Love -Li

    1. Hi Li! Yes, I’m really looking forward to open windows (they almost all open and we have a bunch of them) and to going out to my hammock late at night and falling asleep there. Last night it was right at freezing though – we’re being teased by spring here where it’s warm one day and coat-weather the next. Few bugs for that reason, too. I’ll take the bugs with the warmth when that comes, though, gladly.

  2. As a Sister in Insomnia (and way older than you)…it’s good that you go with the flow and not spin in bed for too long. An important part of dealing with it right? Seems you need quieter comfort foods though. (-; From learning to live in a school bus with another person, I can REALLY relate and I’m observing your transition from home owner to nomadic with interest.

    1. YES! I learned from a book (on cognitive behavioral therapy by a sleep specialist) not to stew in bed, and that has made a huge difference for me.
      Have I told you about my brain stim gadget? If not, I’ll email you.
      What did you used to eat as comfort food when you lived in the bus?