Insomnia (3)

Insomnia is, to judge by the other folks in the Sleep Clinic's insomnia workshop, is pretty universal. Some of us can't fall asleep, others fall asleep, but wake up after too few hours and don't go back to sleep. We all panic (a word I was pleased to hear a man use last week) when this becomes chronic and the pattern gets hard to break.

So the Sleep Clinic's very sensible solution is to deprive us even further of sleep. And if that seems counter-intuitive, it nonetheless makes a good deal of sleep--oops, I mean sense. It makes a good deal of sense. In my case, as in everyone else's, they decided, looking at my sleep logs, that I was spending too much time in bed for the amount of sleep I claimed to be getting (assuming my reporting was accurate). My assignment for this week was 1) to get up no later than 7 am; 2) not to go to bed before I was feeling sleepy (as opposed to "tired") and not, in any case, before midnight. 

Eventually this is supposed to break my pattern of falling asleep, waking up, stewing in anxiety, perhaps (perhaps not) falling asleep again. Last night it worked: I went to bed at midnight and slept through to 6:30. No stewing. I feel great.

But maybe tonight, more energised by more sleep, I will resist falling asleep. Who is this "I" that resists falling asleep? "I" want nothing better than to fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow. Instead "I" starts worrying about not falling asleep and how lethargic, not to say depressed, I am going to be the following morning, how little I will feel like doing anything beyond waiting till I can unembarressedly go back to bed and try to sleep. (Rule No 1: Don'ttry to sleep! Tell me, how can you not try to sleep?) It's a little like Kafka in The Castle. I am judge and consenting victim all rolled up into one. I make my own misery. It's perverse.