Insomnia’s an utter bastard, even if it only gets you sometimes. It’ll go for you when you’re most in need, that knowledge that you need sleep is enough to focus a brain away from the lulled and relaxed waves that will coax you down.
But that’s not the question.
Hypersomnia brings it’s own set of problems. I tend to find the days I feel worst are not the ones where I’ve barely slept, but the ones after those. Three days of barely anything, then one ten-twelve hour collapse, and I’ll wake up feeling like fudge encrusted death.
And also sleeping too much goes hand in hand with depression. Duvets are ideal hiding places, fortress of comfort and loneliness. Self imposed tiredness provides every escape you need. Private solitary space.
Not to mention the lack of productivity. Beyond a certain point, if you are asleep, you are simply not doing anything useful. You get a lot of problem solving, restoration and processing done as you sleep, but after a point, you’re just delaying the day ahead.
And you’ve got to do things. We live in a weird and fucked up world, and if you do things, then things happen.
Sleep isn’t going to get us much further forward (though we’d all fall apart with out it).
It’s a balancing act. Sleep enough to stay sane and functional, but not so much that you haze through days without ever properly waking up.
I think it’s all about matching the patterns of sunlight. Finding harmony with the weird hormonal cycles of our inner chemistries. I’m often tempted by the notion of following the sunlight more strictly. Sleeping longer in the winter and less in the summer. Using the sun as my guide.
It’s certainly attractive, if entirely incompatible with modern life. (‘Sorry boss, can’t come in for another hour, sun’s not up’.) I optimistically imagine I’d function fine on four hours sleep in the midsummer, and missing just about every cultural event that takes place. Who needs nightlife?
Yeah. It’s a silly idea. But then, I think it would make a lot of people function better.
But it’s idle hippy speculation (maybe this project needs a new subtitle).
And the night time is the right time.
I have a problem, in that I love sunshine, but I am clearly at my best in the middle of the night. I feel I’ve shut down a huge part of my creative brain in order to fit in with a 9-5 work scheme.
But there’s swings and roundabouts. The 9-5 has given me a regular enough pattern that my sleeping is a million times better than it used to be. So many less nights spent worrying about not sleeping (which is even more tiring than simply not sleeping).
The world works on some weird and arbitrary schedules. But the body is quite good at keeping up, as long as it knows what the plan is.
Habit can be okay.
And it’s probably time to get up.
Illustration by Adam.