Sunday, 8 November 2009


Sleep is good for you. Sleep is necessary.
Without sleep you stop to function and eventually you die.
Sleep deprivation is a preferred means of torture by those who go in for that sort of thing. However, I am not talking about torture inflicted by others here, but the torture of involuntary sleep deprivation, the torture of insomnia.

Day is over, you’re home from work and, if you are lucky, you have had a pleasant evening. You’ve done the million and one chores that belong in the realm of daylight, your evening has been spent doing a few more, but let’s assume you’ve had a spare moment for the kids, a book, a favourite TV programme, your blog, a chat with a friend. It’s getting late, you are yawning, time for bed.

All is quiet, your bed is comfortable, you’ve had your cocoa, it’s time to turn out the light. Bliss!

Thirty minutes later there’s a band playing snippets of advertising jingles in your brain. Every humiliating conversation you’ve ever had with your boss/ex-partner/
her with the flash car down the road/the ticket collector when you couldn’t find your season ticket/the waiter in the posh restaurant/ that show-off at dinner with friends the other day who knew every word of the latest theatrical adaptation when you thought you could get by with having read the programme notes when you introduced the subject/ is replayed in your head.

Now, at one o’clock, two o’clock, two-thirty, three in the morning, you have that brilliant repartee at your fingertips; you have the perfect, witty, throw-away answer to fling in the face of these nobodies, these hopeless morons, who are not fit to lick your boots.

Now you are firing on all cylinders. Your blog pops into your head; you can’t believe how many fantastic and fascinating ideas for blogposts you have; you start composing them, they are easy, effortless works of art to astound every blogging-buddy you’ve ever had. There is no doubt about it, you will be a Blogger Of Note within days.

And why stop there. Your creative urges are at their peak around three-thirty in the morning; you can barely process these urges fast enough to accommodate their inventiveness and sheer intellectual brilliance. Before long, you have a short story, the synopsis for a novel, in your head. And the jingles play on in-between.

Unfortunately, you have also grown several unnecessary, extra limbs by this time, all of them causing you great discomfort. St Vitus’ dance has got hold of your legs, your shoulders ache with tension, that damned headache is back and there’s a ton of grit sitting behind your eyelids.

You’ve been up and down, have drunk enough water to float a battle ship and now, in desperation, you stumble to the bathroom to take a couple of paracetamol.

Why on earth didn’t you think of that earlier, but no, you had to finish grinding those morons into the dust, you had to complete the second draft of that wonderful post in your head.

The next thing you know is the shrill screech of the alarm going off at seven. You drag yourself out of bed, what there is left in your head of the night’s furious literary efforts makes damn-all sense in the grey light of morning. You feel exhausted; the only thing that keeps you going during the day is the thought of a nice early night tonight.

None of that ever happens to me.

Image: Insomnia


  1. You are right on with this blog!! I love it, Friko and I love the statement "none of this ever happens to me".

  2. And then there are those of us who snore causing us to wake up temporarily every few minutes or so. Same result. Sleep apnea = sleep deprivation. Exhausted. The only soluton I know of is a 20-minute nap now and again in the daytime! Very well-written post, Friko. You really got me laughing. And it's true; you're never as witty than at 3:30 am.

  3. all of which is made worse of course if one is married to someone who is happily skilled at, and frequently does, sleep for hours, and hours and hours and hours.....

  4. A couple days ago I stayed up later than I should because there was something I wanted to do. I told myself, 'you'll sleep when you're dead.' The next day I told myself, 'yeah, but not getting sleep will kill you.'

    A word of advice: cut out the cocoa - or any other stimulant - before bed.

  5. Sigh, I actually thought that retirement would free me of the nighttime horror. But it didn't.
    That is a beautiful, if incomplete, description of the phenomenon, however.

  6. Friko

    I think a notepad on the bedside cabinet would eventually pay dividends.

  7. I can relate to this. All of the above used to happen constantly in my working days but not so much now.

  8. A great description of the torture of it. I went through a short phase while I was training to be a teacher - fear kept me awake night after night. But things have settled down. Now I know that being frightened is just part of the job and I can sleep.

  9. Just off to bed now, hope I sleep well, I usually sleep like a log but sometimes I experience just what you describe. Trouble is I am a night owl and feel more tired during the day.

  10. How well I remember those nights, when words came floating through my mind and I thought about getting them written down tomorrow morning, desperately searching them in morning light...can't wait to become night again, maybe they'll return and if not, there's luckily your site, worth to be read at about 02.20 local time.
    A wonderful week for you.

  11. A tour de force!
    Especially as you are "inventing" all this LOL!

    Aloha, Friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  12. Think we have probably all been there at some point :-) I actually do get my best ideas in the early hours of the fact just this morning at about 3 I solved a problem with one of my little felted animals....nothing serious I know but I'm sure it will be a lot easier today now :-) A x

  13. Clearly we have all been there and done that. I do it less now that I am retired, but I also worry about it less...unless I am babysitting the next day and have to be high energy and alert! You were so inside my head with this one.

  14. I had no idea you had a webcam that could not only see into my bedroom but also into my mind. You should patent it!

  15. Normally I can sleep for my country. I used to get frantic nights having woken from a deep sleep when I was working and under stress, everything I had to do whirling round in my head. Now I have occasional nights when I can't get to sleep and yes indeed, I do write some cracking blogs in my head before I eventually go under!

  16. Lucy - of course it doesn't!

    Margaret - catnaps are good; can the apnea be treated? my s-i-l' s was. Successfully

    her at home - don't I know it, I insist on a room of my own now.

    Mark Kerstetter - what, no cocoa?

    Lane Savant - I am asking you a question or two over at yours

    Bonnie - I've torn it up, it wasn't any good

    MartinH - I have, the stuff is still no good, although this sleep idea came from it

    Alaine - ah, a fellow sufferer

    Fran Hill - Lucky you, you've become hardened

    Cait - me too, that's why I don't go to bed till late anyway

    robert - you are always so kind, but I chose to believe you anyway

    cloudia - of course, I am

    Wipso - I hope you get enough sleep, seeing how hard you work

    Tabor - glad you're back. I wouldn't worry too much either if the side effects weren't so nasty

    Edward - It's the creative mind, that's what it is!

    20th century woman - go on, have a nap

    elizabethm - lucky you, you must have a very clear conscience; or is it all that country air?

  17. This looks like a great blog.

    Yes, I know, too well about insomnia. I could write a book. In fact I did write a book-- It's called (what else?) INSOMNIAC. It's a first-person account of living with insomnia, for, well, probably longer than you've been alive. It will, at least, make you feel not alone, and may even give you some ideas about dealing with it. It's been a help to readers, or so they write me...

  18. How did you get inside my head like that??

    Excellent post, Friko.

  19. I sympathie with the sufferer. I have had similar moments but they don't last long and since they're usually work-related, I just block work out. I would recommend breathing yoga exercises, they work a treat with me when I am feeling under pressure, or even go the whole hog and delve into this millennary discipline.

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  20. Just too tired to comment.
    Props to 20th Century Woman.

  21. dandelion coffee - from Lydham shop - works wonders! :-)

  22. Gayle Green - thank you - I checked out your site, really useful

    the laughing housewife - sorry, you too, eh?

    A Cuban in London - Millenary discipline? must check out what that means

    Prospero - not another one?

    Snailbeachshepherdess - really? perhaps I'll buy some next time I go.

  23. All my friends are insomniacs! We have Facebook "parties" at 3:00 in the morning. I look out our window in the middle of the night and see several lamp lights still on. It's like Night of the Living Dead. No rest for the weary...and we are getting wearyer. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I enjoy yours.

  24. About 15 years ago, about the time I began to combat a rare autoimmune desease (CIDP), I entered into that nether-land of insomnia. Your synopsis is very accurate. I rise early for work, like 3am, and try to get to sleep at 8pm, and have been doing so for years now. Those sleepless nights used to hit twice a week or more. Now months can go by without the brain in overdrive while listening to the refrigerator run, or the furnace, or nearby traffic, or trains, or the clock ticking, or water dripping somewhere. I have tried to rise and read or watch an old film, but it wakes me up even more. And yes, the only answer is to pop off to bed early the following night after slogging through a nightmare at the office, and nearly falling asleep while driving home. Maybe there is a poem somewhere in all this?


  25. Truer words were never blogged! I get this a lot!


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