Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic and a dyslexic?" "I give." "You get someone who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there's a dog.
I've got a bad case of the 3:00 am guilts - you know, when you lie in bed awake and replay all those things you didn't do right? Because, as we all know, nothing solves insomnia like a nice warm glass of regret, depression and self-loathing.
That's the advantage of insomnia. People who go to be early always complain that the night is too short, but for those of us who stay up all night, it can feel as long as a lifetime. You get a lot done
I've crossed some kind of invisible line. I feel as if I've come to a place I never thought I'd have to come to. And I don't know how I got here. It's a strange place. It's a place where a little harmless dreaming and then some sleepy, early-morning talk has led me into considerations of death and annihilation.
It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.
Insomnia is a variant of Tourette's--the waking brain races, sampling the world after the world has turned away, touching it everywhere, refusing to settle, to join the collective nod. The insomniac brain is a sort of conspiracy theorist as well, believing too much in its own paranoiac importance--as though if it were to blink, then doze, the world might be overrun by some encroaching calamity, which its obsessive musings are somehow fending off.
Oh God, midnight’s not bad, you wake and go back to sleep, one or two’s not bad, you toss but sleep again. Five or six in the morning, there’s hope, for dawn’s just under the horizon. But three, now, Christ, three A.M.! Doctors say the body’s at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You’re the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had strength to rouse up, you’d slaughter your half-dreams with buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that’s burned dry. The moon rolls by to look at you down there, with its idiot face. It’s a long way back to sunset, a far way on to dawn, so you summon all the fool things of your life, the stupid lovely things done with people known so very well who are now so very dead – And wasn’t it true, had he read somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3 A.M. than at any other time...
But [Pooh] couldn't sleep. The more he tried to sleep the more he couldn't. He tried counting Sheep, which is sometimes a good way of getting to sleep, and, as that was no good, he tried counting Heffalumps. And that was worse. Because every Heffalump that he counted was making straight for a pot of Pooh's honey, and eating it all. For some minutes he lay there miserably, but when the five hundred and eighty-seventh Heffalump was licking its jaws, and saying to itself, "Very good honey this, I don't know when I've tasted better," Pooh could bear it no longer.
I am strongly of the opinion that, after the age of twenty-one, a man ought not to be out of bed and awake at four in the morning. The hour breeds thought. At twenty-one, life being all future, it may be examined with impunity. But, at thirty, having become an uncomfortable mixture of future and past, it is a thing to be looked at only when the sun is high and the world full of warmth and optimism.
Insomnia I cannot get to sleep tonight. I toss and turn and flop. I try to count some fluffy sheep while o'er a fence they hop. I try to think of pleasant dreams of places really cool. I don't know why I cannot sleep - I slept just fine at school.
When the black thing was at its worst, when the illicit cocktails and the ten-mile runs stopped working, I would feel numb as if dead to the world. I moved unconsciously, with heavy limbs, like a zombie from a horror film. I felt a pain so fierce and persistent deep inside me, I was tempted to take the chopping knife in the kitchen and cut the black thing out I would lie on my bed staring at the ceiling thinking about that knife and using all my limited powers of self-control to stop myself from going downstairs to get it.
There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public. There are worse things than these miniature betrayals, committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things than not being able to sleep for thinking about them. It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse and worse.
The seasonal urge is strong in poets. Milton wrote chiefly in winter. Keats looked for spring to wake him up (as it did in the miraculous months of April and May, 1819). Burns chose autumn. Longfellow liked the month of September. Shelley flourished in the hot months. Some poets, like Wordsworth, have gone outdoors to work. Others, like Auden, keep to the curtained room. Schiller needed the smell of rotten apples about him to make a poem. Tennyson and Walter de la Mare had to smoke. Auden drinks lots of tea, Spender coffee; Hart Crane drank alcohol. Pope, Byron, and William Morris were creative late at night. And so it goes.
Here, from her ashes you lay. A broken girl so lost in despondency that you know that even if she does find her way out of this labyrinth in hell, that she will never see, feel, taste, or touch life the same again.
Women can go mad with insomnia. The sleep-deprived roam houses that have lost their familiarity. With tea mugs in hand, we wander rooms, looking on shelves for something we will recognize: a book title, a photograph, the teak-carved bird -- a souvenir from what place? A memory almost rises when our eyes rest on a painting's grey sweep of cloud, or the curve of a wooden leg in a corner. Fingertips faintly recall the raised pattern on a chair cushion, but we wonder how these things have come to be here, in this stranger's home. Lost women drift in places where time has collapsed. We look into our thoughts and hearts for what has been forgotten, for what has gone missing. What did we once care about? Whom did we love? We are emptied. We are remote. Like night lilies, we open in the dark, breathe in the shadowy world. Our soliloquies are heard by no one.