It was about 4am, that time when the desperation at not being able to sleep slowly dissipates and becomes acceptance of the inevitability of another day of somnambulism at the office.

There are degrees of insomnia but these can ever be fully appreciated until one has tracked up and down the spectrum a couple of times without any personal choice in the matter.

Simply put, insomnia is the inability to actually switch the mind off and drift in dreamland. One can shut one’s eyes and pretend but that is just going to make matters worse and antagonise the normally peaceful and law abiding self.

As for counting sheep it’s a question of how many sheep there are potentially in the universe multiplied by 10 to the power of whatever…

Sharing the drama and burden with friends is a precipitous slope into being identified as either a victim or a martyr and risking being deleted from the guest list or even being banished to the basement office.

Some people read, some sit drinking tea and watching TV while others meditate and some still drink themselves to sleep but only achieve a light sleep without REM and wake up worse than if they had not slept at all.

Sleeping tablets are an ever present possible solution but are addictive and set a routine that doesn’t always enjoy being altered for things like late parties, movies or romantic dinners to say nothing of working on a last minute deadline.

When a friend asked me recently whether my insomnia was fixed I had to say that it wasn’t and when she said why don’t I talk about it I had to admit that I could not risk losing more friends to my catatonia.

These days I write and write and then write some more. Some good but mostly just a method of passing the time and watching the horizon slowly lighten up.



  1. pursuethewolf · · Reply

    i don’t get insomnia, but i understand the inability to switch off. hope it gets better man.

    1. Richard Clarke · · Reply

      thanks, man.

  2. I really suffered from worrying about work between 2000 and 2003, slept little, and became incredibly depressed and eventually suicidal. Went to see a shrink, received lots of antidepressants and sleeping pills. I am afraid that these just made things worse. I ditched the medication and walked away from the job – best medicine ever.

    1. Richard Clarke · · Reply

      Went through some similar situations over the years. Sleep deprivation can be paralysing but I find paradoxically that some of my best writing comes on or just over the edge of total frustration at being unable to sleep. I walked away from a couple of jobs over the years and lost financially but gained a life and my soul.

  3. I’m lucky (touch wood). I sleep. But when I don’t, on those very rare occasions, I can’t imagine how the insomniacs cope. Sleep is such sweet refuge. On the upside, yay for the writing, right?

    1. Richard Clarke · · Reply

      Sleep is sweet refuge, Dolce, but I get a load of writing done. Not all good in fact mostly banal and repetitive but it’s important to write lots so as to get the bad stuff out of the way and into the good percentages. 🙂

  4. Content Advisor/Editor-in-Chief: Carrie B · · Reply

    Well-written, obviously by a veteran of the “eyes wide open” club. I say this at 4:22am having had two hours of sleep and a full day ahead of me. Nothing helps an insomniac more than another insomniac, so thank you for making this evening less lonely.

    1. Richard Clarke · · Reply

      Yes, I am a veteran of the “eyes wide open club” and agreed insomniacs should share more often. Hope you make it through the day. 🙂

  5. It’s a sporadic thing with me. 01:30 and I can find myself working on plans to construct log walls for washerwomen in croc infested rivers, at low tide, (if it’s fed tidally, which I am not sure of since my Geo knowledge is sketchy) because it’s SO important at that I solve the design and material challenges NOW. Mind you, that’s the kind of thing that actually interests me, so perhaps the insomnia is just a period that my brain waits for… until the hours filled with mundane daily demands are over. I just wish it wouldn’t be so eager to dump all the good stuff on me at once.

  6. Richard Clarke · · Reply

    Sporadic is mine as well as it comes in waves. It is in quite an acute stage at the moment. I lived for some time in the Transkei which is quite wild and rivers play a big role in the daily lives of people there. Log walls formed part of one of my , so unfinished. My brain gets a download of good stuff when the insomnia reaches a critical mass. Fully understood and thanks for commenting.

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