Friday, November 19, 2010

Sleepless in Devon

It is 02.57 and I've given up on trying to get to sleep. I suffer from periods of insomnia that may last for two or three nights and sometimes for several weeks; they end as unexpectedly as they begin.  Tonight, or rather this morning, I thought I would look up what other people have said about insomnia and discovered dozens of quotations. I'll post a few here and maybe I'll find an unexpected remedy!

A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky -
I've thought of all by turns, and still I lie
~William Wordsworth, "To Sleep"

The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Nothing cures insomnia like the realization that it's time to get up.  ~Author Unknown 

O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my sense in forgetfulness?
~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I

Even thus last night, and two nights more I lay,
And could not win thee, Sleep, by any stealth:
So do not let me wear to-night away.
Without thee what is all the morning's wealth?
Come, blessed barrier between day and day,
Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!
~William Wordsworth, "To Sleep"

Sleeplessness is a desert without vegetation or inhabitants.  ~Jessamyn West

I find sleeplessness frustrating and so cannot agree with this writer:
It's at night, when perhaps we should be dreaming, that the mind is most clear, that we are most able to hold all our life in the palm of our skull.  I don't know if anyone has ever pointed out that great attraction of insomnia before, but it is so; the night seems to release a little more of our vast backward inheritance of instincts and feelings; as with the dawn, a little honey is allowed to ooze between the lips of the sandwich, a little of the stuff of dreams to drip into the waking mind.  I wish I believed, as J. B. Priestley did, that consciousness continues after disembodiment or death, not forever, but for a long while.  Three score years and ten is such a stingy ration of time, when there is so much time around.  Perhaps that's why some of us are insomniacs; night is so precious that it would be pusillanimous to sleep all through it!  A "bad night" is not always a bad thing.
  ~Brian W. Aldiss

I'm far more in tune with Dorothy Parker:
How do people go to sleep?  I'm afraid I've lost the knack.  I might try busting myself smartly over the temple with the night-light.  I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things. 

If anyone has a cure for insomnia, please let me know. Meanwhile I'm going back to bed to try again ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.


  1. Hello there
    No cure for insomnia but will admit to suffering quite badly at one time years ago. Dear Doctor said it was hormonal (in other words due to the 'change' lol)
    Have to say I agree wwith Wordworth on sleep being the Mother of fresh thoughts and joyous thoughts. If I have a late night or am finding it hard to sleep I can't think straight and certainly feel horrible!
    Must look that poem up as I'd never heard of it before
    Take care

  2. I don't have a cure for insomnia, but I don't sleep very well a lot of the time and find it's always better to get up and do something, even just make a cup of tea, and try again a bit later. Someone told me once that falling asleep is like surfing, if you miss one wave you need to wait for the next... you can't force it. Love the quotes!! Tabitha

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  4. Try Melatonin. It's not a sleeping pill, but it does get you in the mood for sleep. A darkened room is also suggested. All those digital lights on our gadgets are not sleep friendly.

    BTW - I've been meaning to mention The Perfect Health Diet site which has terrific information about how proper diet can be useful for dementia and other diseases. I've modified our diet to some degree and it's proved beneficial.

  5. Cathy and Tabitha

    Fellow sufferers, I see. Sometimes I get up and have some chamomile tea and/or read for a while. I know it works better than simply tossing and turning but I don't always remember that in the middle of the night. I like the surfing analogy, I'll visualise the waves next time (I do hope that won't be tonight!).

    I didn't come across the Wordsworth poem when I was studying him either, Cathy. Google is very useful, isn't it?

  6. e

    Thanks for the recommendation, I'll see if our health food shops stock Melatonin. Will also explore the website you mention. I think we have to do all we can to stay healthy in mind and body.

  7. When it happens to me there is something on my mind - a worry or concern. The absolute best thing for me is to read. If I end up reading all night, then it is time well spent. My Kindle is the 'book' upstairs. Easy to hold and pleasant to read. The other thing that keeps me awake is oregano. I know, it's unbelievable, but for me it gives a speedy/trippy sort of effect. When we go out to an Italian restaurant, I can pretty much count on a delirious night to follow.

  8. An mp3 player stuffed under my pillow with radio shows or talking books on (nothing very exciting though)The other night it was Rosemary Leech reading 4.50 from Paddington and last night it was Nevil Shute's No Highway read by Robin Bailey

  9. I was going to suggest Melatonin as well. I also find a warm bath with lots of lavender oil helpful. I've had bouts of insomnia off-an-on since I was a child, and sadly, two of my children suffer with it as well. We sent our son to a sleep-study clinic when he was a teen, and they said the cause was his brain not producing enough melatonin; so they suggested the tablets.

  10. I can attest to the sleep-inducing qualities of the pink bedroom at 60 Going on 16 Towers, M. Well, most guests seem to sleep like a log when installed there. So, you must come to stay again very soon!

  11. I feel your pain, Maureen. I get a lot of Sudoku puzzles done at night. I also disagree with Mr. Aldiss and his praise for insomnia. It is no fun to be awake when you should be asleep having life played out on the curtains of squinched up eyelids. I can think of nothing worse. Well, maybe those eyelids being poked by something. That would be much worse.
    As for a cure- a hot bath in lavender salts and sipping some warm milk followed by reading a very boring book help me. :)

  12. Thjank you all for sharing your sympathy, empathy and tips. I knew I was in very good company on those sleepless nights. I've slept very well for the last few nights but next time I have a bad one I'll think about all of you, wondering if you are awake too. And, of course, I'll be trying those suggestyed remedies.

    I will definitely be taking up the offer of the respite care at 60 Going On 16 Towers!


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