Wreck This Journal: Insomniac

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Towards the back of Wreck This Journal, there is a page with instructions to sleep with the journal and document the experience.  For a normal person this wouldn’t be a problem, but for an insomniac it’s not an easy task.  My journal ended up being a record of a night spent wide awake, (thanks in part to a sinus infection), which I suppose is far more fitting for me.  The sleepless night with my journal inspired the doodles below as well as some thoughts about coming to terms with insomnia.  For some it’s an enemy, but for me it’s a gift.

Throughout my early childhood and adolescence, I dreaded going to bed because I knew I’d have a fight on my hands.  I’d beg for sleep and it would never answer my pleas.  The game became frustrating and ultimately made my life miserable.  Then I figured out something rather important – I’ve never really been considered normal by anyone, (I’m a nerdy, artsy, creative loner who refuses to see the world with a cookie-cutter perspective), so why would I sleep like a normal person? Once I accepted insomnia as a fact of life, I realized my little disorder gave me something quite precious: Time.

In world where a day slips by faster than ever, my inability to sleep affords me a few extra hours to do the things I love.  It’s why I’m able write so many things at once and why I read so many books within a given month.  There’s time to watch movies, listen to music, and dabble in poetry.  Time to ponder, dream, and map out engaging lesson plans for my students.  Most of all, there is a chance to enjoy a few hours of quiet as the noise of the day fades with the passing of midnight and beyond.

As a writer, those quiet moments allow inspiration to settle in and take over my imagination.  My muse speaks most clearly when the house is silent and my journal is open.  Often, I sit and wait as everything in my mind jostles and spins.  One idea is bound to push its way through and come out of my pen.  Most of everything I write starts in the wee hours of the morning.  For this simple pleasure, I have insomnia to thank.

Its not a perfect relationship by any means.  There are nights where I watch the sun go down and come up again, moments where I’m so tired I can’t remember how to sleep, and times when I think maybe I should ask about Ambien.  Then, I consider what I’d be giving up and honestly I’m not willing to make the trade.  Maybe it would be different if my sleep pattern (or lack thereof) interfered with my daily life, but it doesn’t.  I could easily let insomnia become an inconvenience, but I choose instead to let it be a gift.  All it takes is a little patience and understanding.  Perhaps one day it will grow tired of me, but until then I happily accept its presence.

- – -

Previous Wreck This Journal posts:

Letting Go

Keep Reaching

Ignite The Spark

Be Unpredictable

Embrace Imperfection

Mess

c.b. 2011

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35 thoughts on “Wreck This Journal: Insomniac

  1. I have insomnia on a regular basis, too and am amazed by what i can accomplish in the middle of the night. I remember some of my most effective studying came in in the middle of the night when I was in college. My insomnia bugs the people I live with….but to me, like you, it expands my day. Well said!

    • My sister and I shared a room when we were kids – I’m sure I drove her crazy. And I do remember how handy insomnia was during college. Reading assignments, no matter how large, weren’t a big deal because I always had an extra few hours. :-)

      Cheers to insomniacs everywhere!

  2. I’m an insomniac who has not dealt with it, Ambien is a nightly thing, mostly because I can’t function the next day if I don’t get the regulatory eight hours of sleep a night. Hopefully that will change one day but I have my doubts.
    I can see by adopting your attitude how you get more done. I’m still stuck on needed that sleep so much I’m afraid to get involved in anything.
    You always amaze me how you look at life and make lemonade.

  3. I also have insomnia and do need a good night’s sleep to function the next day. But I have found that those hours between 1:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. when I can’t sleep are perfect for surfing the Internet (with my iPad)…hence, the name of my blog (Undercover Surfer). I think you’ve taken the most sensible approach to dealing with it.

  4. Susanne

    Have you ever written about a character with insomnia? Sounds like that would make for an interesting aspect to one of your characters since you know it first hand. I’ve always been sorta fascinated by people who have trouble sleeping. I have had bouts of insomnia but nothing like you experience and in general I sleep long and sound each night. So it would be interesting to read about someone up all hours of the night and how that affects his or her daily life. Maybe your next novel!

    • No, but maybe I should! The character in my WIP novel isn’t an insomniac, but she does get up every morning in time to see the sun rise. That’s about as close as I’ve come to a sleepless individual. I don’t think I’ve ever done it because insomnia is usually associated with darker stories . . . but maybe I can change that.

      Thanks for the inspiration! :-)

  5. I couldn’t function after a while. I know that for a certain amount of time things work normally, but then there is a crossing point. A point of no return, I need to sleep, otherwise I am the bad mood bear and everyone is in danger.

    There are times that I don’t sleep, and then, like you I just get up and do something. If you get in a tizz over it, then it becomes a problem and it gets worse. For me anyway. So if I am awake, I work on something and use the time. Then next night I sleep the sleep of the damned.

    Before I joined the Air Force, my Dad – an Army man – told me, sleep when you can because you need to be ready for when you can’t. So I can sleep just about anywhere if I need to. Trains, planes, helicopters,boats, machine rooms. Wherever I could grab an hour. Power napping as it is now called.

    Now in civvie street, I still sleep when travelling, if not preoccupied by the scenes passing outside, or driving myself of course. Jane, my wife hates it. When I drive she is awake to keep me company. When she drives I find myself sleeping within minutes.

    So hope you get to catch up,

    Jim

    • I’m in awe of people who can sleep anywhere , any time. I’ve never been able to sleep on a plane (I’ll doze off a little, but I’m always aware of what’s going on). I can, however, grab a little nap after I get home from work. Its weird, though, I always wake up within 20 minutes.

      Perhaps one day, my body will figure itself out and I’ll sleep like a normal person. Until then, I’ll do the best I can with what I have.

      (How I love the phrase “bad mood bear.” Lol!)

      Thanks for reading!

  6. I don’t think I have a full case of insomnia, but my mind is always working. Unlike many who can be asleep within minutes, it takes me an hour or so to fall asleep. Thankfully I’m not an insomniac though, as I have the most amazing dreams. I enjoy them when I’m immersed in them, and remember them fondly when I wake up. At least for a little while, as the memories don’t seem to last long, just long enough to engender a regret at their loss. Great post, thanks!

    • If I try to sleep when my body isn’t ready, then it takes forever to get to sleep. But, if I wait for the right moment, I’m asleep in seconds. It’s the weirdest thing!

      I do envy your ability to dream or at least remember them. Mine are gone to moment I wake up and its as if they never existed. I always wonder what goes on up there during the few hours I’m asleep. ;-) I love how you regard yours as though they are departing friend.

  7. Ohhh how I miss the days when my insomnia was a blessing and not a curse. Hopefully when my baby starts sleeping through the night on a regular basis I won’t be so irritated when my insomnia stops me from getting a couple of hours’ sleep!!

  8. I have this book too! I still have lots of pages to fill out !
    You actually get out of bed when you don’t sleep? I would think your body would at least need the rest of just laying there.
    My co-worker has insomnia (she’s in her 60s), and she never looks happy. You’re too pretty to let that happen to you, however, I don’t like to be on the side of pills either. Mabye just take Benedryl or Nyquil. It’d help your sinuses at least!

    P.S. at least your sister didn’t have to put up with grinding teeth and snoring like mine did.

    • Sometimes I get and move around and sometimes I entertain myself among the pillows and blankets. The iPod has drastically changed my sleepless nights. I can watch movies, TV, or listen to music without bothering anyone else in the house.

      The lack of sleep doesn’t bother me, nor does it affect my mood. I choose to let what it be what it is rather than fight it and that makes a big difference in my outlook. :-)

  9. I have a similar relationship with sleep, except I’ve yet to manage to call it a gift. Without sleep, I simply don’t function as well as I should. I’m envious of you – after all, think how many hours of thinking we waste by sleeping – the fact that you’re able to deal with not sleeping and still function can definitely count as a blessing!

    • I think a lot of it has to do with choice. Mind over matter. I’m an eternal optimist who refuses to be beaten down by anything so I think insomnia realized its a losing battle. ;-)

      However, I’ll be the first to admit there are days when I’m dragging. I’m a light sleeper when I do sleep so its really important to stay asleep for at least three hours. If that gets interrupted then its hard to function. In many respects I’m just like everyone else, except I sleep on a smaller scale.

  10. I got my own Wreck This Journal this weekend while visiting Seattle – it called to me as I was browsing a paper store. I’m excited to get started – you’re making it look like so much fun! :)

  11. To me, this sounds horrible. If I don’t get my seven, eight hours’ sleep each night, I can’t function. I feel sick …the ground is swaying like I was on a ship.
    It does happen … those night when I just cannot fall asleep, and I do understand that you get lots of things done — I get up, I go online et cetera. Usually I stay up for two hours, and then I sleep. But then, I’m not good the day after…

    My brain is like a battery …it needs its charging, I can’t think or function at all without the charge. So … I’m glad you’ve come to terms with your insomnia …quite amazing!

    • My kind of insomnia isn’t something I’d recommend to anyone. It’s not always easy, but I’ve discovered how much power there is in choice – especially when it comes to attitude. I can’t change the problem (without heavy medication and I won’t do that), so the only option left is to choose to see the bright side. :-)

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