Sleep is personal, sleep is interwoven into the fabric of our deepest beings. It’s not surprising, then, that we work out ways of dealing with sleep that are as individual and distinctive as we ourselves are.
What things have you found that help?
Foods you’ve found that help?
Techniques do you use to get to sleep? To get back to sleep after you’ve awakened in the middle of the night?
Hormone replacement therapy: does it help your sleep?
Your experience going on hormone replacement therapy? coming off it?
Findings are equivocal: some studies say that it helps sleep, some that it doesn’t, and a recent survey of the literature concludes that there’s evidence both ways.
Progesterone: have you found it to be effective with sleep?
The babbling mind—
“We talk to ourselves all the time,” writes Allan Hobson; “We cannot imagine thinking without telling ourselves things; plans for the day, reactions to people, abstract analyses… fantasies.” Hobson is not, to my knowledge, an insomniac, but novelist Anne Lamott is: “Left to its own devices, my mind spends much of its time having conversations with people who aren’t there. I walk along defending myself to people, or exchanging repartee with them, or rationalizing my behavior, or seducing them with gossip, or pretending I’m on their TV talk show or whatever.” In her novel Unless, Carol Shields describes “the lifelong dialogue that goes on in a person’s head, the longest conversation any of us has. O hello, it’s me again. And again. The most interesting conversation we’ll ever know, and the most circular and repetitive and insane. Please, not that woman again! Doesn’t she ever shut up?”
Maybe it’s louder in some people than in others (loudest in writers?), but I bet it comes with the territory of being human. Man, the speaking animal, the babbling animal. No other creature is like this. Language is what makes us human. Language enables thought, the kind of thought that leads to further thought, that propels us forward to conceptualize, reflect. It serves us well, in most respects, pushing us to higher-order activities of abstraction and imagination, but then it gets out of control, it won’t shut up, to the point that we can be sitting on an idyllic beach, and we go on babbling. The Buddhists call this the chattering monkey that scrambles from thought to thought. Anne Lamott compares her mind to a spider monkey on acid: “I wish I could leave it in the fridge when I go out, but it likes to come with me.” …
Is this clamor louder in writers than in other people? So many writers are insomniacs— Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Mark Twain, Alexander Dumas, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jorge Luis Borges, Rudyard Kipling, Victor Hugo, Edgar Allen Poe, Vladimir Nabokov, Charles Dickens, Joyce Carol Oates, Jacqueline Susan, Rick Bragg, Ann Lamott, maybe even Shakespeare—that it’s practically an occupational hazard. For all I know, I came by my insomnia just by hanging around this illustrious lot. Do people who deal with words all day long sleep worse than people who deal with visuals—do artists have less insomnia than writers? —Insomniac
How to get the mind to shut up?
Anybody but me see a connection between wakefulness and words, and visual imagery and sleep?
Visualization techniques you’ve found that work?
Why are so many writers insomniacs? Are more writers insomniacs than artists?
Books you’ve read that have helped?
Things people have said that have helped?
What is the smartest, most helpful think a doctor has ever told you?
What is the dumbest, least helpful thing a doctor ever told you?
The up side to insomnia?