I never have trouble falling asleep when I first go to bed, but if I wake up for any reason during the night, I'm doomed. Regardless of how sleepy I think I am, my brain starts going a mile a minute. Song lyrics, memories, random thoughts, you name it. And when it gets going like that (I call it "busy brain"), I know I'm in trouble. People say that I should get up and read, but I can't do that because I can't see! I can't put my contacts back in because they're still soaking, so I'd have to put on my old glasses, which give me a headache, and then my reading glasses on top of them. I've tried, but it's generally not worth it. So instead, I try to corral my busy brain into an organized activity, and that sometimes helps.
Many years ago I started listing the U.S. states in alphabetical order, but I can do that so fast it's not even a challenge, more of a race. Then I added the state capitals, but again, I know them all by heart, so it was just a recitation with no actual thinking involved. Then a few years later I switched it up by doing just the state capitals themselves in alphabetical order (that is, beginning with Albany, Annapolis, etc. rather than Alabama—Montgomery, Alaska—Juneau, etc.). That was fun for a few months, but now it's old hat too.
Two years ago I had a fun summer learning to list all 32 World Cup countries in alphabetical order. That was hard, and fun! I can't do that one anymore—I'd have to look them up. But I can start all over in 2018!
A few months ago it occurred to me that I could try listing all the U.S. presidents in alphabetical order. Adams! Adams! Arthur! Buchanan! I spent weeks on that one, because I refused to look anything up. At first I was shooting for 44, because I know that Obama is the 44th president. But then I remembered that Grover Cleveland was president twice, but not consecutively (he was in fact both the 22nd and 24th president), which means there are only 43 actual people who held that office 44 times. For quite a few weeks I was stuck at 40 (remember, this was alphabetically, not chronologically, which I don't think I could ever do, and it's not something I can check without looking it up). Then one morning I woke up and announced out of nowhere, "McKinley!" (Andy is used to this sort of thing from me.) A few weeks later we were watching the Red Sox, and I suddenly blurted out, "Polk!" Another few weeks went by and someone tweeted something about Warren G. Harding, and that was that.
So now I need something else to list. It has to be finite and something I would know. Lately I've just been naming as many countries as I can beginning with each letter, but there are something like 195 countries (depending on how you define "country"), and I don't think I'll ever be able to do them all alphabetically. Plus the list changes too often! Meanwhile, did you know that there are currently no countries beginning with W or X (Wales doesn't count, because it's part of the UK), and only one each for O, Q, and Y?
Now you know why Andy rarely says, "A penny for your thoughts" to me, especially if he knows I haven't been sleeping well. (In truth, my insomnia has been much worse at other times in my life than it is these days, for which I'm grateful. Not sure what to attribute it to, but I'll take it.)
Do you have insomnia? What do you think of?