How to survive the seemingly unsurvivable

July 26, 2007

Part one:

Sleep, if you can. It has been well documented that lack of sleep and insomnia drains the body’s physical resources and sends the brain’s mental faculties on a joy ride. On top of this, there’s what the young playwright Sarah Kane called 4.48 psychosis, which though referring to a specific experience of psychosis, is also that witching hour when in my darkest hours I have found myself waking up, night after night. Wide awake, alert and feeling constantly drained.

Take or do something to help you sleep. Now, that may be a time-honoured remedy, say hot milk with a splash of brandy, or a hot bath – a shower is not the same – or even one of mother’s little helpers. It may even mean getting back into bed and pulling out a great read, a light read or an easy read. However, in these moments, even reading becomes difficult. Usually, one’s brain is on a collision course, and if trying to get to sleep is a mental joy ride, when it feels as though your mind has, literally, been carjacked and is being driven recklessly, then waking up is like a stock-car rally for Learner drivers. Your head is full of incapacitating thoughts, racing through over and over, and back over again.

And still nothing works. There’s nothing left but to wait it out. Eventually, everything runs out of fuel, and so do thoughts if they are not fed. But there’s an art to this and it means trying all those meditation techniques gathered from books, courses and well-meant advice from friends. Imagining that they are horses racing through your mind and gently pushing them away, focusing on one’s breath, in and out, relaxing from your feet up, or even counting sheep.

If you have a friend living in the southern hemisphere, you could always call as it is not the middle of the night, and a chat can do wonders.

If you have a pet, a cat or a dog, then a cuddle and a stroke, can work wonders. If not, perhaps a cuddly toy will suffice, or a favourite blanket. In new-age speak, it’s called nurturing your inner child. Listen to it, then your emotions, your thoughts, your body and your spirit.

And if sleep is still elusive, take to having mid-morning or early afternoon naps to try and make up the lost time.

Or if all else fails,

Log in, log on and log out.

Any other suggestions are welcome as I am compiling a How To suggestion list….


2 Responses to “How to survive the seemingly unsurvivable”

  1. Nigel said

    “…Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
    The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
    Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
    Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”

    Ah, to dream, perchance of sleep? I truly don’t recall the last time I got “8 hours” – an uninterrupted 4 would be nice. I go to bed; I read, do a crossword or fiendish Sudokus until my eyes break the matchsticks holding them open. I kill the light, lie back and wake right up, brain a-buzzin’ with jumbled nonsense!

    Mmm, hot chocolate – nice… zzz … 2 hours kip & the loo beckons! Doh! Thirsty again – nice cuppa & read another chapter. Ok, NOW I fall asleep with the light on until the radio wakes me & though there’s nothing I need to get up for, that’s it for another yawn-filled day.

    Enough alcohol works & I get many more memorable dreams under its baneful influence. But it’s expensive – in many ways – so it’s a rare treat these days.

    Sheep make me laugh too much, & alphabetical lists of say, singers or groups, drinks, foods, animals etc are fine until “X” – irritation does not induce slumber!

    The TM learned some 30 years ago no longer seems to work – lack of practice or the Universe having yet another laugh?

    On occasion, learning random speeches from Shakespeare until mentally drained has worked for me; otherwise I’m in the “wait it out” section of the serried ranks of the sleepless. Sorry for not adding to the list – unless reading this has made you drowsy?

    Looking forward to Part 2,
    Love, Nigel! xx

    “Hey! Mr Tambourine Man,play a song for me.
    I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.”

  2. Neat list. I need to keep better track of what my kids are reading. Thanks for sharing. Click

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