4 in the morning, crapped out, yawning...

Sam Hart

2007-08-25 08:33:42

I really dislike my insomnia. Technically, I'm not even sure if you can call it insomnia though.

For one, I just don't get tired. In spite of the Paul Simon reference for the title to this post, I don't feel "crapped out" and I certainly haven't yawned tonight/this-morning.

For another, whenever I try to lay down and rest that's when my brain really starts going. Laying there in the dark with the complete and total lack of stimuli my thoughts consume me. I think about projects I'm working on, try to solve problems I've encountered, even worry about silly things.

So what do I do? Well, I try to read, but that never works. Even the most dry material is fascinating enough to keep me awake.

Other times I get up and play video games or watch TV, even though I know this will suppress melatonin production in my brain (which helps regulate the so called "biological clock") and make it even harder to sleep.

Sometimes I get so determined to have sleep that I take sleeping pills. I've tried everything from over the counter medicines like Unisom, to herbal remedies like Kava, to prescription drugs like Lunesta and Ambien. Nothing works. None of them make me the least bit sleepy, and most give me severe hang-overs the next day.

And some nights I just don't fight it. On nights like these I may start out in bed but then eventually get up after a few hours of laying there in the dark with my eyes wide open. When I get up I may play video games, read, or (as I did tonight) work on stuff. Tonight in particular I've been wrestling with Swarm and doing a fairly massive rewrite of clogged.

The logic of just not fighting it is that, eventually, you should just get tired and fall asleep naturally... At least, that's the aim.

But all that goes out the window when you glance at the clock and see that it's 4am and you're still going strong with no sign of exhaustion whatsoever. In 4 hours it will be 8am... and damnit if your body wont spring awake at 8am no matter how recently you fell asleep. I'm well aware of things like polyphasic sleep patterns, and the well documented cases of people (usually scientists or highly intelligent/creative peoples) operating on small periods of sleep per day. The problem is, I fret an awful lot about my lack of sleep and I worry that maybe it's doing me substantial harm.

Anyway... all of this ruminating on the topic of being wide awake at 4am reminded me of the following TED video: