I've been having a hard time sleeping lately. I lie awake for hours in the middle of the night alone with my thoughts, such as, "Could I have Fatal Familial Insomnia?"

That thought stressed me out for a while, until I realized that it is a deadly genetic disease, and none of my relatives have ever died of it. I spent a good couple hours worried though, since I apparently don't do my best thinking while lying in bed at two o'clock in the morning. This was a sign to me that I needed more sleep, and I needed to stop watching Discovery Health before going to bed.

Simply using television as my judge of what is normal and what is not, I can see that I must be a pretty average under-slept Joe.

I see a lot of ads on TV for Tylenol PM, Lunesta, and Advil PM. These ads make me feel better during the night, when I realize that other insomniacs are up with me, watching all the great things television has to offer after regular programming has stopped, like advertisements and infomercials.

I probably sleep enough, but instead of being averaged out in a 24-hour period, my sleep becomes average over the course of a week.

I keep going, day after day, on about three to four hours of sleep, and then crash at the end of the week. By the end of the week, I sleep all day, pick up my son, Silas, force myself to stay awake through dinner and teeth brushing, and then go back to bed when he goes to bed.

In the morning, I haul myself, looking like a zombie dragged from the pits of the earth, out of bed in order to drop Silas off at school. I'm sure I make an amazing impression on the other parents, all of whom appear to have showered, or at least applied deodorant, and then I go home and go back to bed.

I do have a prescription for Ambien. Ambien worked like a charm, or like a dream, for the first week I had it. Popped a pill, fell asleep, and woke up feeling refreshed.

The added bonus to Ambien is that it completely took away any dreams. I don't like to dream. I prefer just to feel like my body has been turned to the off position for a couple hours, and Ambien helped me accomplish this, for an amazing, blissful seven days. And then it stopped. Now I'm back to lying awake staring at the ceiling.

I've seen advertisements for other sleep aids, but a couple things stop me from trying them. Lunesta looks nice. In the advertisements, a giant green moth lightly lands on people and those people then happily drift off to sleep. But, sadly, not only is there no generic form of this drug, all my windows are screened.

In fact, one of the reasons I have screened windows is a fear that a giant moth will fly in and land on me while I'm sleeping.

At this point insomnia has become a lifestyle for me. My neighbors have slowly resigned themselves to the fact that I do my laundry at 3 a.m., and my son, Silas, can recognize that crazed, sleep-deprived look in my eyes, and will make me a cuddly bed on the couch to curl up on.

As for the fact that the way I look while dropping Silas off at school is probably terrifying the other children, I have one word of advice for those parents: Ambien. It takes the nightmares away.

Zoe Abel is trying to take a nap and she currently resembles something dug up from the underground, like a zombie, or possibly a bait worm. You can contact her at

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