Saturday, 8 May 2010

Insomnia... 'A bonewhite light, like death, behind all things'

Dreaded insomnia strikes again. Anyone who romanticizes it and tells you that it's linked to being 'creative' is just lying. I have to be up in four hours for a  rehearsal but even on those nights that I'm not it's hard not to wake up the neighbours with your 3am sudden writing epiphanies and there is nothing creative about a brain dead feeling, eye twitch and zero attention span.

I never used to have problems with sleep but now it feels like the dread of being the lone soul awake as the birds start tweeping at 5am happens more and more often. It's a self fulfilling prophecy perhaps, as the more you worry about not sleeping, the more likely you are to stay awake. I get really bad hallucinations if I get too sleep deprived so there's an added fear factor for me too. I'm not a fan of the black dancing shadows and tides creeping out from under the radiators...

The first hour lying in the dark can be productive - don't get me wrong. It is a great space for unravelling lyrics and trying out metres and patterns in your head as you unleash an imaginary torrent of kick ass payback to all those people who needed a great comeback at the time but it wasn't quite there in the moment. In this hour they all get their verbal tirade and it's the best rehearsal you never did for the all the things you wish you'd ever said.

I wish I could sleep like a normal human being. Any tips or suggestions? These sleeping pills are eating a hole in my brain....


  1. i don't know if it'll work for you but when i lay down i mediate.
    Focus on my breathing etc and then i imagine a room with a big shelving unit in my minds eye.
    i imagine myself packing my thoughts into boxes, labelling them as i go and then placing them on the shelving unit.
    Once i feel that i've collected them all up (or at least as many as i can collect) i imagine myself pulling shutters across the unit and locking it up.

    Finally i imagine myself looking around this room, now empty of my thoughts, and then heading for the door, turning off the light as i go, leaving the room in darkness.
    Then i just go back to focusing on my breathing and NOTHING else.
    i'm not saying it'll work for you, it doesn't always work for me and i still get periods of insomnia, but it may help at least just a little.


  2. I was told to cut caffeine (I failed), do more exercise (somewhat failed) and try and regulate and order my day to a routine (didn't even attempt it). Insomnia is usually symptomatic of something else so take care of yourself :)

  3. I used to suffer terribly from insomnia. It was much more a fear of insomnia (as seems to be the case for you) than the insomnia itself. Once I (truly) recognised that, it was a breakthrough. And it was important - and very useful to me - to realise that frequently the debilitation I was terrified of due to not sleeping was way out of perspective with the reality. Yes, after a sleepless night I'd be fuzzy and wouldn't be at my best -- but I got through, as I think you must be, and there's some strength and confidence to be derived from that, I think.

    The anxiety that builds up as you lie in bed chasing sleep makes it nigh on impossible. It also helped me to get out of bed and do something else (watch brainless TV - there is plenty of it around at that time), just returning to bed when I felt more tired and some of the anxiety had dissipated.

    I started running a couple of months ago, and - trust me - I was *no* runner before that, and staying awake has been the problem since!

    Not for everyone, though.

    I suppose the key thing for me - to conclude - was to realise, and believe, that insomnia is nothing to be scared of.

    Good luck. It's horrible, I know, but you can transcend it. Definitely.

  4. I find white noise such as a fan (sorry not very eco-friendly) helps me drift off.

    I tried what Nala suggests but for someone like myself I would be creating far too much detail within that meditation and before I know it I'm wide awake.

    The secret is to empty your brain of ALL thoughts. Its switching off all the worries, stresses, anxieties and frustrations.

    I'm sorry to say the creativity has to rest as well. I used to jump out of bed scribble away until realising that 4 am is not the best time to be wired on graphite and putty rubber.

    Think empty or a nothing like a black hole. Don't focus on your breathing but try and take deep long breaths. Within a short time you will be relaxed and Wee Willy Winkie will be paying you a visit.