I suffer from chronic insomnia. What I mean by that is quite simple: just about every night, when I go to sleep, I don’t go to sleep. I usually toss and turn. And my mind races 100 miles per hour.
This happens probably five days out of the week on average. Sometimes I’ll go 10 or so days without a good night’s sleep. When I tell anyone about this, they recommend a variety of cures. Supplements, drugs, doctors, even changes in diets. All to make me go to sleep better.
But there’s something else: I actually enjoy the insomnia sometimes.
Not all the time, mind you. If I have a job interview first thing in the morning, the insomnia can be maddening. Also, it makes getting on a set schedule extremely frustrating.
However, some of my best thinking is done when I’m suffering from insomnia. And I’m inspired to write, what I think is, some really fantastic music.
I think about life, philosophy, the world, colors, music and what I really am. I think about failed relationships, lost opportunities, bad decisions and the direction of my life.
I think about love and imaginary wars. I think how wonderful it would be to write a symphony and how odd it is that I’m essentially daydreaming while attempting to go to sleep so that I can have real dreams.
Not only this, but the idea behind insomnia intrigues me. What the hell is going on in my head that makes it so hard to sleep? How come on some nights I can go right into a dream world, but on most nights I will be lucky to be asleep before sunrise?
Is it possible that I’ve been battling some form of depression for years and just never realized it? I suppose so, but I don’t think that I feel sad most of the time. Just can’t sleep, that’s all.
And if I could get to the root of the problem, will knowing what the problem truly is help to make it disappear, or will any efforts be in vain?
In fact, much of my thinking when I have insomnia is actually about insomnia. How meta is that?
The last time I can remember sleeping through the night on a regular basis is when I was in elementary school—and I’ve been a mostly functioning human being since that time. So I don’t have the heightened sense of urgency to remove this insomnia from my life.
Sometimes I’ll be lying in bed, and a riff will get stuck in my head. Or maybe a few words. And I have to get up and grab a notebook and/or my acoustic guitar and figure it out. Invariably, my best work comes from this kind of thinking.
So perhaps I’ll find myself at a crossroads sometime in the near future. Do I value the time when my best thinking seems to occur, or would I rather have the stability and health that can be provided from a consistent sleep schedule?
For now, I’m going to bask in the insomnia. Once you get used to it, it ceases to be a great hurdle in your life. Instead, it becomes something that I almost look forward to. I know that if I come to a brick wall in my songwriting, all it takes is a flash of brilliance in a sleepless night.
The good news? If you need something at 3 a.m., I’ll be around.
“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”– W.C. Fields