Insomnia and Other Afflictions of the Mind


Insomnia is a brutish, bloodshot gorilla tied to your back demanding that you fall asleep at 135 decibels.

About once a month I find that I’m completely awake at 3:45 in the morning, having lain on my side for four hours, completely aware that there is nothing I can do that will fix the situation.  I find that these situations arise when I have few good books surrounding my bedside or problematic writing assignments.

It may be that I don’t even suffer from true insomnia, but my night owlishness needs a good flight from the barn to the fields and back again.  The symptoms usually don’t last more than a night, but there’s hell to pay with my sleep schedule.  Do not doubt that.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are the tips and tricks that have helped me through nearly twenty years of sleeplessness:

1 – Acceptance.  You will not fall asleep unless you let the thing out of your head to roam free, so accept that you are not falling asleep at the moment and free yourself to pursue thought.  This is where good reading can help – just not overly good reading that keeps you awake.  Journal writing works very well to resolve issues or work yourself through stances or opinions.  You just have to put yourself in Alice’s shoes and take the breath before you plunge down the rabbit hole.

2 – Wander.  Move about, leave your position, or just sit up.  Once you know your situation, give yourself permission to readjust yourself from the struggle against sleep and pursue the demands of this harassing gorilla.  Cats especially like this phase of nocturnal activity, as it means they can grab warm spots in the bed or harass the afflicted in the kitchen for more food.  If you never leave your bed, or won’t give yourself the freedom of flipping on a bedside lamp, then you will be stuck for hours.

During one episode in college, I tried my hardest to stay in bed and read a book by  the light of the streetlamp outside my window.  The monkeyfist knot in my right shoulder lasted nearly three days.

3 – Muse.  An incubus is a demon that was believed to have lain on top of people, preventing them from sleeping (among other activities).  A muse is a Greek goddess of inspiration, mainly sourcing to literature, science and art.  Are they all that dissimilar?


“Crap! I have levitation class at 25:131. I better set the alarm to ‘cinnamon’.” – XKCD

If you’ve given in to Acceptance, and allowed yourself to Wander, then pursue the Muse and engage your activity.  The biggest step truly is the acceptance that you have to follow this road first before you can be let out.  You are in Alice’s forest and the path behind you is being swept away by a little shaggy beast with a mop-tail.  You can run for the exits or stroll along and learn a few things about your destination.

Sure, this blog-post is one way of handling one of these situations, but its working and passing the time.  Plus, if this doesn’t work for me or anyone else, you can always just look at pictures of cats.

Good luck, fellow sleepless.


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About recalcitrant041

Andrew Babcock has manifest destiny on his mind. The road west is paved with basketball, psychic dreams, passable egg-toast, Dungeons & Dragons, and haiku.

2 responses to “Insomnia and Other Afflictions of the Mind”

  1. Your mother says :

    Well and succinctly put. As a fellow problem-sleeper, I agree with you analysis. Many’s a night I have stayed in bed just hoping for sleep to return by sheer force of will. Never works like that.

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