First close your eyes. Nope, they’re not droopy let’s try inhaling and exhaling a few times. Is it dark enough? Turn out the lights. You were so tired on the way home, why are you awake now? Maybe you have some kind of weird Leptin behavior — no don’t think about that, right now we’re sleeping. Focus man, it’s time to rest.
- Deep breath
- Nope deeper.
- Count forwards
- Screw it I lost count let’s try going backwards
- Alright we’re just going to sit here for as long as we can bare it
- Open laptop and check facebook
I’ve heard a lot about sleep hygiene, melatonin, schedules, red lights in the morning, and candles at night. I’m somewhat convinced this is all complete nonsense.
I’m watching the sun rise right now. I tried to sleep for hours. This is part of my daily routine. Somehow I manage to fall asleep by about 6 or 7 most mornings but then I wake up around 8am, feel lethargic and vaguely sleepy. Try going back to sleep. No luck. It’s 11am I need to go to work. Get to work, be excited and energetic every other hour as the caffeine works it’s way through my system. Weekends are nice because I have blackout curtains and I just sleep during the day if I can’t fall asleep at night.
If I follow all the instructions from friends, doctors, and most importantly my Mom, I sometimes manage to wake up and fall asleep at a human(e) time for 3 to 5 days. After those few restful days I return to my routine of staying up all night staring at ceiling tiles or watching people go by outside my window because I know if I read or use my laptop I will be up… always.
The most I’ve ever gone without sleep is 4 days. I think I started to hallucinate or at least fail to properly understand and process things. I slept for 4 hours and went to class the next day.
A lot of people want to blame the modern world, ADD, NYC, or my environment… I think it might just be me. My mother would be the first person to say that I’ve always had trouble sleeping. My friends would further confirm that I’m always the one begging them to get out of bed and go to waffle house at 4 in the morning on a school night. Even when I sleep I wake up frequently and have to force myself not to observe the world. People who have shared my bed have been terrified that I sleep with my eyes open sometimes.
When I was a kid I never slept during nap time or late at night… but if you got me into a car for more than 20 minutes I immediately passed out. Today if you stick me on a plane I have this incredibly useful ability to fall asleep during takeoff and sleepwalk/talk/exist for the remainder of the 10 hour flight. I can fall asleep easily on trains, planes, and automobiles… why not beds? Luckily my job and travel schedule mean I spend quite a bit of time on trains, planes, and automobiles. So let me hone in my thesis here — the modern insomniac has it easy.
What used to be terrible about long nights awake was the isolation. Now we all have friends in every timezone. I’m awake — oh I wonder who’s on IRC in California…? Hawaii — no? Japan? China? Russia? Australia? Berlin? Paris?
I might have insomnia. I don’t think it’s a big deal though. I like the nights. It might be weird but I’ll grab some headphones and wander around the streets of New York for hours if I realize I won’t be sleeping anytime soon. I know there are lots of other people who do the same. Sometimes I’ll program. Sometimes I’ll read or get out of bed and type a blog post. I get my work done, I’m not often late for important meetings, and I don’t fall asleep when inappropriate. If this is the worst part of insomnia… I think I should stop complaining about it.
I would even argue there are some benefits to being a modern insomniac… but that’s a topic for another post.