07 January 2009

Winter Fog

I could not sleep last night. No reason I can think of, just unable to "settle my brain for a long winter's nap," as the poem says. Now it is nearing 6 a.m. and life will resume. I feel sleepier right now than I have all night.

Now insomnia is a lifelong demon of mine. It has been rather tame these last years, meaning rare and easily subdued. But it remains a tender space in my psyche such that I have assembled various rituals and nostrums that embarrass me to admit. After all, to be unable to go to sleep seems to me as stupid as being unable to breathe. It is as if I was essentially incompetent at one of the most simple tasks any human can do. Indeed, since babies do it constantly, that makes me less mature than an infant.

You fellow insomniacs know what I mean. The rest of you will just find this pathetic and silly. But the fundamental experience of insomnia is loneliness. Few understand the weird world we inhabit at night, being asleep of course but also because it is a strange mental space where reality and dreams come very close and neurosis has a field day. And since all we want is to sleep, it's not like we go out and hang around with each other in the wee smalls.

The hardest part, though, is not the inability to sleep but the foggy wakefulness that we drag around during the day. I'll do all right this morning, but by mid afternoon serious mental effort will be like pulling taffy. Sleep deprivation also makes one a little testy, at least it does me, and throws a pall of depression over the day itself.

I am yawning now. But the alarm just went off upstairs so it is time to get to it. Experience teaches me that staying with my usual pattern is best in the long run. So with eyes drooping and moods sinking I am off to the gym in a short while.

Heck, at least I was smart enough to get up around 4 and get some work done. But I sure do miss my dreams.

1 comment:

James Harrington said...

When I can't sleep, my favorite get-back-to-sleep trick is to lie in bed and attempt to stay awake. I can never do it, and sleep covers me like an extra blanket.
The other thing I do is not let it get to me ~ not anymore. Telling myself that it's okay to have a lot on my mind, or telling myself that I am simply not tired enough, I then find in the daytime hours that my restlessness hasn't cast a shadow over my mood.
Mind games... mind games are okay as long as I win.