ToingToing! Perchance to dream

Being an insomniac is an affliction, it’s also enraging, frustrating, debilitating, depressing, useful and exhilarating, it may, however, be inspiring and empowering — to quote a few of the adjectives thrown at the ever-awake crowd online. As an insomniac, I find the idea that I need to sleep 10 hours each night a bit heavy going. I am satisfied with my 5-6/24 ratio, thank you.

Seventeen famous insomniacs:

Alexandre Dumas, Amy Lowell, Benjamin Franklin, Carey Grant, Catherine the Great, Charles Dickens, Franz Kafka, Groucho Marx, Judy Garland, Marcel Proust, Margaret Thatcher, Marilyn Monroe, Mark Twain, Napoleon Bonaparte, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh and W.C. Fields.

‘Cures’ and ‘treatments’:

There are many – mostly underwhelming – suggested ‘cures’ and ‘treatments’ for insomnia online. One of these is a list entitled “78 things to do when you can’t sleep & struggle with insomnia.” It includes “Give yourself a manicure.”, “Practice self-hypnosis.” and “Make soup”.

Groucho had another trick – “When I can’t sleep” he said “I phone people up in the middle of the night and insult them.” Recent studies found that behavioral changes are more effective than drugs.

Another device that I found to be very useful is “White Noise” producers (aka UBN or “Unfocussed Background Noise”,) fans, PC hard drives and even the radio static help. There are various applications that generate UBN, which can be recorded and played on your MP3 player. Those with somewhat deeper pockets should consider a White Noise Sleep Machine.

Another famous insomniac, not mentioned above, is writer F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote:

“As I said, I think of that night, two years ago, as the beginning of my sleeplessness-because it gave me the sense of how sleep can be spoiled by one infinitesimal incalculable element. It made me, in the now archaic phraseology, “sleep-conscious.” I worried whether or not it was going to be allowed me . . . I was drinking, intermittently but generously, and on the nights when I took no liquor the problem of whether or not sleep was specified began to haunt me long before bedtime.”

From Sleeping and waking, by F. Scott Fitzgerald