Sleeplessness [en]

Have you seen the film Insomnia? If it is showing anywhere near you, it’s worth seeing. I went to see it last night and really enjoyed it.

While I was struggling with my cold and my soundcard, Stephanie asked us to share our experiences with sleeplessness. Though I have never suffered from insomnia so severe as Al Pacino’s in the movie (he goes without sleep night after night because of the midnight sun in Alaska), I have had my share of sleeping problems.

I remember having trouble going to sleep as a child. I remember being afraid to go to sleep, because I might not wake up. I remember the orange flower syrup. I remember going into my parents’ room to tell them I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid that an atomic bomb might fall on the house while I was asleep. I was afraid I would die if I went to sleep.

I remember my mother lying down beside me in my bed, helping me breathe and relax to go to sleep. I must have been seven or eight. I don’t have many memories of my mother.

In my early teens, I discovered the “empty box” method. To try to stop thoughts spinning through my head, I would try to think of nothing, but that was too difficult. So I would think of an empty box.

I also started staying up late. I would read until I almost fell asleep on the book I was reading. I would listen to music or stay up until I dropped. I fell asleep many times with my headphones on my ears, listening to the radio. The years went by, and I recall that by the time I was twenty I was suffering from chronic fatigue.

When I was about fifteen, I started writing. A diary. When things were troubling me and keeping me awake at night, I would write, and write, and write, until there was nothing left to be written and I fell asleep.

During my teenage years, I perfected the “empty box” and in the end stopped needing the box. I would just breathe, think of nothing, and let passing thoughts do just that—pass. I still use this technique today. Some call it “meditation”.

I have got back out of bed at two o’clock in the morning to cook myself spaghetti. I sleep better on a full stomach.

Today? I usually stay up late, and when I go to bed I am just so tired that I drop. If I have trouble going to sleep and something is bothering me, I write it out of my mind—literally, with a pen and paper. Or, I pick up a book and read: that usually takes my mind off whatever it was on, and allows me to relax enough to find sleep.

A few weeks ago, Danielle told me of a trick that Aleika had given her. When you can’t sleep and the hours are ticking, try the following: instead of thinking “Shit, I only have four hours of sleep left!” think “Oh heck, I have four more hours to wait before morning!”

2 thoughts on “Sleeplessness [en]

  1. 🙂

    Felt compelled to write something when I saw this one. You didn’t tell us that you had a cold
    as well … that would have made it easier to know why you were so silent 😉
    Gee, the poor gal gets RSI, sets her up with voice to text … then the soundcard drops then
    her voice drops.

    But that wasn’t what I felt compelled to say, it was about insomnia. Since I write this as a
    response to seeing it on climbtothestars I’ll post here and people will see it when they go
    read yours on Dandruffs site.

    I’ve been having serious trouble with Insomnia for the last three months. But I truly didn’t
    feel it as a negative thing (though rather tiring…) more like lots of processes going on
    inside me that need to be done. Most of it spurred by finally breaking up with my girlfriend
    from almost five years back. Then I fell in love with work again, “found back” to colleagues
    and dear friends. Plus I fell deeply in love with another gal (we’ll see if that leads me
    anywhere…). A true mix of just everything, work, family, emotions and several others.
    Mostly I’d be using a book (the “nightbook”) for all the good work ideas. Jotting them down
    means they leave my mind… unless there’s more to them.
    Never managed to write a diary…

    I’m never too worried about insomnia. I really believe there’s a reason for it and that
    there’s just things that need to happen. To start using medication must be the worst thing,
    and make you crazy as it takes your mind away from neccessary processes. Of course if there
    are external things like too much light they should be solved (but in Insomnia, the movie, I
    don’t thing that’s the main issue…).

    Last month most of my nights have been spent on writing letters to a gal I met who’s bound for
    a silly marriage. She’s muslim and so much of the setup seems culture bound, though there
    might be some reasons of love at the bottom. I do realize it doesn’t have to be totally silly
    … learning slowly … but there are so many things that must be more difficult for a girl in
    her cultural setting. True love seems such a minor thing in it all…

    well… that’s a different subject.

    last comment: the american insomnia movie was based on a Norwegian original 🙂


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