Mom-Somnia: Inside The Tumultuous Mind Of A Sleepless Mom


It’s midnight and I’m still awake. I have Mom-Somnia. Which roughly translates to I’m a sleepless mom. 

The lights are off and my husband and dog are both snoring next to me. They fall asleep so easily. Jerks. Wait, do I hear one of my kids stirring? No, not yet. 

I think about what my doctor told me to do for my faux-insomnia: take magnesium, meditate, or journal before bed. One friend recommended herbs, another suggested CBD. A video on Instagram told me it’s just perimenopause so I should relax already. It’ll be over never. A (really good) book I read told me it’s the stress of middle age. Another book told me it’s my unmedicated ADHD singing a never-ending song in my head. The internet told me, well, everything and nothing. My heart told me the whole world was looming like a dense fog. 

I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep. I’m a sleepless mom. Mom Zombie (Mombie?) for life. 

It’s said that biological females experience higher rates of insomnia because of hormones. Is everything hormones with us? Yes, apparently. Hormonal superpowers, baby. Flaunt ‘em if you got ‘em. (Or don’t, because we wouldn’t want to fly into a hormonal rage and topple the patriarchy like we were born to do. No, no, of course not. Wink, wink.)

I’ve dealt with sleep issues on and off for years. Decades. Even as a child, I had a hard time falling asleep because my brain was always going high speed. I don’t have a “monkey mind,” more like a hummingbird on six espressos.

Back then, we didn’t have phones to look at or sleep podcasts to lull us to dreamland. When I luckily got a Walkman as a teenager, I listened to Pink Floyd’s Meddle or my cassingle of More Than Words by Extreme as my white noise. Now I wonder whether I should put those albums on a Spotify sleep playlist while I look through 8.2 billion other lullaby choices until my head explodes. I tried to listen to a sleep podcast, but it was some guy with a creepy monotone voice telling me to imagine a cozy cabin in the woods, which just makes me think about being murdered. Note to self, no more true crime at night. Or ever, probably. 

a tired woman with a pillow on top of her head. sleepless mom
Am I doing this right?

Every night I try to tune out for a bit before bed with a good book. Actually, a bad book is better because a good book will keep me up all night saying one more page until I am a bleary-eyed zombie with grayer skin and worse hair.

Netflix or Instagram are also my go-to’s, even though everyone says to throw your phone out the window before bed. But I’m a human in the world so obviously I’m obsessed with my phone and sleep with it next to my head, insomnia and radiofrequency radiation be damned.

comic of a sleepy brain all day and a wide-awake brain at 3 am.

No matter how chill or exhausted I am before bed, the nighttime always gets me. The second I close my eyes, I start to think of all the things I need to do. Or want to do. Or forgot to do. Then I count down the hours until the alarm rings and I have to actually get up and do all the things. No wonder I’m a sleepless mom.

When I lay down, I start to wonder if I’m a good mom, a bad wife, a terrible housekeeper, or a lunatic. Is my heart beating too fast? Too slow? Why are my feet freezing but my body is sweating? Did I sign that paper for school? Did I leave a load of laundry in the washing machine? Where are my daughters’ snow pants? What’s on the agenda for tomorrow? What was the name of the girl Dylan McKay brought to Baja before Brenda? What sound does a penguin make? Do they quack? Is the world on fire? I mean, like, literally on fire, or just metaphorically? 

How do I turn this thing off for a second? My brain, I mean. Not the world. Or maybe both. I don’t want to be a sleepless mom.

To quiet myself, I mentally replay all the videos I watched that day. The ducklings following their mama duck in the pond. Women screaming over their dead. The most beautiful octopus changing colors to blend in with an underwater rock formation. A bomb destroying a whole building at once. People picking up trash on the beach, only to throw all the garbage into the sea. A woman in a red cap saying she can’t lose again or there’d be real trouble this time. A small knit frog wearing an apron, making a teeny tiny egg in a crocheted pan. 

I wonder if our brains are changing from the way we scroll from one disparate thing to the next, to the next, to the next? Probably, but what can you do? I’m hooked and now I’m wondering where I saw that recipe for gluten-free popovers? I should bake some tomorrow just so my kids will say they hate them. Fun! 

And down the search-and-never-find rabbit hole I go. I guess sleep can wait a little longer. 

Maybe I have trouble sleeping because I don’t put enough effort into having good sleep hygiene. 

I don’t have a proper bedtime skincare routine either. I don’t wind down from the day enough. I have those dang pesky hormones. I’m over forty, which is just like the biggest crime I can commit. Especially when it comes to my lack of sleep. Or maybe it’s none of these things and I’m just trying to live in a world that feels both amazing and inhospitable. 

In all honesty, I don’t know if what I have is true insomnia or just a mind filled with all of the trash and treasure that’s sure to keep anyone up at night. What I do know is that I am a sleepless mom.

Maybe the way the world is structured is meant to keep us awake, hoping, hurting, and always thinking. Or maybe I am just an overwhelmed mom and woman living in the worst timeline. Or maybe no one can sleep soundly anymore, except my husband and my dog. Either way, I know I’ll be up for a bit longer tonight because now one of my kids is awake. I’ll tiptoe to their room and once they are asleep I’ll tiptoe back to bed again. Then I’ll restart the process of trying to sleep from scratch. 

a drawing of a mother's brain mostly filled with the word kids on repeat.
Apparently, mom brains don’t have a sleep function. So that explains Mom-Somnia!

 *Sidenote for my fellow sleepless mom Gen X-ers, READ THIS BOOK: Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun. It explains everything without blame. Instagram should take a hint.

To the other ladies in my over-forty-can’t-sleep club, I see you. We’re probably scrolling the same feeds and Googling similar brands of random stuff, like where is the cast of Saved By The Bell, the Good Morning Miss. Bliss season. Or were there really honey pots in ancient Egyptian tombs? Or are cows and horses friends? Or help I’m a sleepless mom only to start beating ourselves up for the enormous task of living as women and mothers with impossible workloads. We’re friends now, bonded by our delirium. But unlike Motel 6, I won’t leave the light on for you because I’m kinda, sorta trying to sleep.

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Mom-Somnia: Inside The Mind Of A Sleepless Mom

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  1. Yes!!!! So refreshing to read this blog. I’ve been dealing with the same thing since childhood but it has gotten worse during the past year or so. But counting by 7’s seems to work for me…it’s weird but the counting slows down my mind! Have you tried this?

    • Oh, thanks for the tip! Glad it’s working for you, I’ll have to give it a try. No wonder it’s called lucky seven!


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