Tuesday, October 19, 2004

fake awake

it was only going to be a matter of time before i wrote this post. its 3:40 am and i've woken up restless and my mind is buzzing. i'm awake but i dont feel properly alive....

yes folks, welcome to another bout of my irrepressible insomnia

as long as i can remember i've had problems sleeping.
-- age 8 disturbing my parent's dinner parties by coming downstairs repeatedly asking for a glass of water
-- being a child with exzema - sitting scratching on the floor in the doorway of my bedroom
-- stage whispering to friends staying over "are you awake yet?" until they were.
-- coaxing my light on a timeswitch to just come on already at 6:45am shabbat morning.

[maybe its genetic -- i dont think my father has ever slept later than 5am... except of course for shavuot tikun leil (all-night learning marathon) where nothing beats the rabbi's lectures for heavenly hypnotic powers]

i dont recall much about my sleeping patterns at university but since i started my working life sleeplessness is normally a sign that somethings up. worries, fears, ill ease, apprehension can all affect my body's ability to rest whether the feelings are renting space in my conscious or subconscious. (even happy events can take their toll... in the lead up to my sisters wedding when i was staying in a suite in a 5 star hotel i averaged at 4 hours sleep a night -- it took a good 2-3 days, a posh massage and my futon until i returned to regular sleep patterns)

its a viscious circle -- i'm unhappy/worried/concerned -- need all my energy to cope with the problem and then i cant sleep. (i normally wake up in the middle of the night rather than not fall asleep). after a night of insomnia i have no energy which puts me on a downer for the day -- makes me more worried/concerned/not happy and my mind buzzes even more. and while i cant sleep it doesnt mean i dont feel tired. theres nothing worse than facing a challenging day ahead with a subtle headache twinned with dull aching all over your body and eyelids that feel like they're being kept open by sky hooks.

nerves are also a major culprit in the no sleep crime. weeks before a performance when i need every ounce of energy to fuel my comic genius i find myself counting more sheep than punchlines.

occasionally its just a case of too much sleep the night before -- you'd think if i had too much sleep then as long as i sleep the required remainder the next night i'd feel fine in the morning but sadly this never balances out. no, it doesnt work like that -- there's no credit carry over and inevitably a miscalculation on shabbat afternoon kips can bugger up any new week.

of course over the years i've learned good coping techniques - dont fight it, get up and do somethingelse for an hour or so. often thats enough and the benefit gained from whatever i've done instead is worth the sleep deficit (my nightmare is to have slept too much before Yom Kippur and to wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to read, watch TV or eat...) but when its down to matters of the mind i am reminded why sleep deprivation isnt just like chinese torture -- it is chinese torture! its like some psycho has locked me in a cinema from hell and is subjecting me to repeat screenings of "I know what you did last summer (and this is what you should have done or maybe this instead or how about that or why didnt you think of the other).

on such nights any sleep i do get is very sketchy and i'm never too sure if i've actually slept until i realize that i couldnt have got to work this morning (in Jerusalem) just in my underwear via Euston Square station and anyway the Metropolitan line doesnt go via the Alps or anywhere underwater and why would the Makolet man be on my train anyway? (While I have problems sleeping, once asleep my dream are vivid, in technicolor and highly memorable)

1998 (i think) saw my first prescription for a valium derivative sleeping pill. and its probably been a two or three years since they've stopped having any kind of effect. a general fear of chemical dependence coupled with laziness prevents me from getting anything stronger. besides i didnt wait for this article to realize that somethings are better talked through than pill-popped. instead i've discovered a homeopathic cure -- lavendar oil. i sprinkle a few drops on my pillow and unless things are really stressful i can conk out for the night. its actually really good and if the price i pay is waking up smelling like grandma, then so be it. only problem is, it works best when i can pre-empt it (eg i will most probably use it tomorrow night) but it doesnt work so well on the spot as it were.

ok, its 5:00 am now and i seemed to have distracted myself from thinking about the burning issue (and the strategically placed mosquito bites) that woke me up, for over an hour and a half. plus i've managed to check something off my to do list (update blog). life could be worse.

i'm going to attempt to go back to sleep (the little thats left). if you're still awake maybe you should check out this site

good night!