Brain Chatter

I haven’t been sleeping well for a couple weeks now.  There’s a combination of factors. Last night, however, it was all brain chatter, and it was classic.  For those of you who have never had brain chatter or who aren’t sure if they have had brain chatter, I’ll try to describe it.  You can take the name at face value.  Have you ever heard a person on a cell phone talking?  And you suddenly realize she (face it, it’s usually a she) hasn’t actually breathed for the last 10 minutes, much less stopped talking and let the person who is presumably on the other end of the cell phone talk?  Keep that in your head.

Then add this.  For those of you who are old enough, remember when you would scroll through radio stations on a dial radio?  There would be the intermittent static with brief snatches of music or voices, nothing really intelligible, but if you pause on the dial, you hear a word or two or a note or two and then move through the static/stations some more.  Keep that in your head.

Then add this.  Have you ever had a song run through your head?  Not the whole song, just a snippet.  Sometimes it’s just a phrase, less than a chorus, sometimes a little more. Over and over, and you can’t move past the phrase to the next stage of the song.  For those of you who are old enough, remember when a record got stuck?  The needle skips on the record and you hear the same thing over and over until you go nudge the needle.  Keep that in your head.

Then add this.  Have you ever laid down in bed and start listing?  You think of the things you have to do the next day or the things you didn’t do that day.  Now imagine the list being on a circuit that repeats.  You know how you repeat something three times to remember it?  Instead, obsessively repeat that thing until it goes through your head without effort. Keep that in your head.

Pour all ingredients into a bowl and fold together gently.  Sometimes you can distinguish the ingredients.  Sometimes they mash together.  Ebb and flow.  Cacophony, endless chaotic noise.

Last night I slept well from 10:00 PM to about 2:00 AM.  At 2:00, it started.  It’s easy to say: calm your mind, meditate, just…stop.  Especially coming out of a deep sleep, rationality and mental cooperation is not exactly a given.  The only real relief I get when the brain chatter takes over like it did last night is to turn on a movie or TV show that I’ve seen before and focus on the dialogue – very bad sleep hygiene.  I can often break the chatter pattern with a little concentration.  Sometimes concentration isn’t possible, however, and the movie/TV show simply adds to the noise.  Yep, I dozed a little from 2:00 AM to about 6:00 AM, and then got another two hours or so of decent sleep.  Fortunately, being Saturday morning I wasn’t required to jump out of bed at 5:00 AM, so I’m feeling okay.

A lot of people are affected by brain chatter. Not everyone who has brain chatter has fibromyalgia, and not everyone with fibromyalgia has brain chatter.  There is a connection, although I’m not sure exactly what.  There is a bit of a chicken and egg question here too.  Fibro, sleep disorder, brain chatter.  Brain chatter, sleep disorder, fibro.  Sleep disorder, brain chatter, fibro… It’s not pretty.

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