Call Me if You’ve Slept Thru the Night in the Last Two Years

Comedian Gail Forrest is having trouble sleeping. Is it the 24/7 scary breaking news that is keeping her up? Can the cast of "Friends" help?

“To sleep, perchance to dream”… hold on Hamlet, you wacky Prince of Denmark, if you could fall asleep why can’t I?  I had mother issues also but not as serious as yours.  My Mom wanted to know what I was wearing, where I was going, with whom, and most importantly was he rich, and single. She was also obsessed with the “facial mask” as an important skin tightening beauty routine. She had a point about the mask. You had the Bubonic Plague which I am certain kept you up some nights but I have all the iterations of the Covid virus which makes me afraid to go to sleep as well as wake up. 

Truthfully I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since July 14th my senior year of high school.  I distinctly remember overnights at my friend Barbara’s house where we woke up at noon.  Granted I was 17 but I had stress then also. Was my blue Villager sweater back from the cleaners? Did Roger like me or Joby? I could never figure out my Algebra homework because did x equal y or not? On a more serious note, did my parents notice the car smelled from cigarettes?  Tragedy struck when I wasn’t invited to the Senior Prom but bought a dress. I also developed a freakishly large zit on my cheek that was so embarrassing I almost forgot to apply to college. Those were real sleep busters but regardless I dozed away.  Even when I discovered Roger liked Joby, I slept through the night.

Now my night stand is like a pharmacy. I could be on the Home Shopping Network hawking sleep aids from my bed. “Call now and I will send you Benadryl, CBD oil, THC, Nyquil, ear plugs, Lorazepam, Advil PM, Sleep-ezzz, and ½ of an Ambien all for a ridiculously low price. And if you’re the first to order the Nyquil I will throw in at no extra cost my special recipe for a Nyquil smoothie!  It’s delicious and will keep you asleep for three days.” Naturally I don’t take all those “aids” at once; it’s a mix and match situation. The stockpile brings me comfort but not sleep.  

I’ve come to realize I’m not the only one who tosses and turns all night as sleep articles bombard me on a daily basis. It seems no one in the country is sleeping!  Sleep hygiene is all the rage.  The advice is endless: go to bed at the same time every night, make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and a cool temperature, no computer, smart phone, or TV in sight, no large meals, alcohol, or caffeine before bed, and be certain you exercise hours before you plan to sleep. Whew, that list tires me out, but doesn’t help me fall asleep.  I have tried counting everything from counting Sheep to Golden Retriever puppies. I got a puppy but no rest.

None of my friends are sleeping either. A big source of conversation these days is “did you sleep last night?”  The consistent answer is “no.”  We exchange advice and commiserate but nothing changes. 

“I’m exhausted” is the usual refrain.  

Is it the 24/7 scary breaking news that is keeping me up?  Has the “Twilight Zone” become real life?  I would check under my bed and in my closet for aliens or predators after every episode.  Now I check my temperature and oxygen level instead.  Did I just sneeze?  Does my throat hurt? Do I have a cold or Covid?  Not the best bedtime activity. 

I recently read I can have a celebrity tell me a bedtime story on one of the dozens of sleep apps.  It’s quite an industry.  Like my Mother who read me a fairy tale every night, Matthew McConaughey can bring me sweet dreams. No to Matthew but yes, to James Earl Jones.  His voice is so melodious I don’t care if he read me “Green Eggs and Ham.” This October on “Breathe,” “Cinderella” helped a record amount of people nod off.  Ixnay to Cinderella as it made me believe I was going to grow up and marry a Prince, which didn’t happen so it would just piss me off and keep me up. “Hatch” has in its library “The Velveteen Rabbit” and “Peter Pan” which are nostalgically appealing. LeBron James is “King of the Sleeping City,” albeit I’d prefer Steph Curry. 

I know the sleep “experts” say no electronic devices should be anywhere in sight at bedtime but Rachel, Ross, Monica, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe from “Friends” help me nod off every night regardless. They are the magic elixir in my nighttime routine – in combination with a little help from my bedside pharmacy. They also all had Mother issues like poor Hamlet, but a lot funnier and similar to mine. 

Monica, Rachel, Joey, Ross, Chandler, Phoebe and I wish you a whole night’s sleep.


  1. I hear you!! I have done sleep studies, CBT sleep course, mindfullness meditation, sleep apps and sleep hygiene,
    Natural therapies, over the counter, and prescription. Nearly 30 years of insomnia issues!!! The other night I got up 5 times!!! Help!!!

    • Well I can match those five times , but thankfully not every night. It is horrid. I journal before I go to sleep and keep it next to my bed. Write down all the things that pissed you off during the day or scared you…..stream of consciousness writing. I do that every night now. Give it a shot. Get stuff off your mind and onto the paper before you sleep!

  2. My issues started in 2015-ish. I injured my back in 2018 and found that the Gabapentin they put me on was helping me sleep better, but when I asked my doctor to let me stay on it, he said no and suggested a couple other things that didn’t end up working. I’ve tried several natural therapies with no luck. Finally, a few months ago, I was reading “The Menopause Manifesto” to try to get some help with the sleep issue, and Dr. Jen Gunter mentions that low-dose Gabapentin is regularly prescribed by OBGYNs for sleep disturbances. I don’t remember ever being as angry as I was after I read that. YEARS of dealing with this and it was just fixable the whole time. I made an appointment with a female OGBYN, took the book with me in case I needed to make the argument, and braced for the worst. My new doctor said, no problem, gave me a prescription, and I have been catching up on sleep ever since. Sleep loss is cumulative, so I have a lot of catching up to do! But, I’m feeling so much better.

    • That is great news. I tried Gabapentin a few times for back pain and my doctor said “be prepared for a great night’s sleep.” It really did nothing for me but I know it helps a lot of people. It is not a narcotic so it’s odd your doctor did not let you continue on it. Another doctor of my Dad’s once told me it was great for sleep and safe. Thankfully you found an answer and a doc who understands your sleep issues and helped you with this drug. Yea! And sweet dreams….

      • Sorry to hear it doesn’t work for you, and I hope you find something that does soon.
        It gets to be exhausting just having to advocate for yourself. In case you need to hear it, you deserve to feel good and right agian. And to have a doctor who is invested in helping you. I wish you all the best.

        • My Internist is quite sympathetic as he doesn’t sleep well either and had his own sleep routine. It’s endemic I think especially in these COVID driven times of anxiety. I find a vodka on the rocks at the cocktail hour is relaxing and lasts! It’s a nice start at an rate. Glad you are doing well. And never underestimate the powerful effect menopause has on a woman’s body! arghhh

  3. I love this. I am the worst sleeper in the world and no cornucopia of cocktails/Nyquil/ZZZquil/anyquil works for me. The only time I have slept well in recent years was when the oral surgeon knocked me out to get an implant. What about bedding? Sleep Number? Or the 40K Hastens? 😉

    • Well not buying a new mattress for 40k or 3k for that matter. I like really really soft sheets or I can’t sleep. When I buy new ones I wash them at least 16 times. I take an anti anxiety drug to sleep and try to exhaust myself during the day. It is tough I empathize with you – have you tried vodka? My new cocktail hour drink and it lingers…. less sugar to wake you up like wine. Other than that I’m clueless. Thanks for reading and getting it!

  4. Funny story, Gail. I can relate. My secret weapon: When I go to bed, I put on a boring podcast or interview. It lulls me to sleep, like someone telling me a bedtime story.


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Gail Forresthttp://www.gailforrest.com
Gail Forrest recently started doing standup which she finds is a complete blast. Gonepausal is her blog and she has a book on Amazon by the same name filled with stories of her skewed, funny view on midlife and all its attendant surprises. Humor is the only way forward at this point.


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