Thursday, December 2, 2010


Sleep rolled in very late last night. Of course, I had to wait up. Thoughtless. We may need to have the talk with words like curfew and responsibility.

My good fortune was that I could go back to sleep after I took care of early morning tasks. I read somewhere yesterday, I think a catalog of self-improvement CDs, that one night of insufficient sleep is, pfft, nothing, really. They insisted the human body would somehow take up the slack, be focused, purposeful, energetic. To which I say, some other human body.

Several of my friends have experienced years of insomnia, one of the most debilitating states, and without the luxury of sleeping in to catch up. I feel marginally crazed if I am two hours short.

I am conscious, it may be Thanksgiving's influence, of taking very little for granted right now, watching when my mind seeks its little worry blanket with the picked-at binding and shocking holes where the wool has been fretted through.

What a wonder, night after night, that restorative draught and the dreams it guides us through. A gift of no slight proportion. Be welcome, know your value. Please call if circumstances delay you. I'll be working the crossword puzzle.


Sultan said...

Sadly insomnia is an eternal state.

Artist and Geek said...

Sleep, highly undervalued in modern society.

Before I offer any scientific insight, thought I should ask for permission first. :) Marylinn, I can only go where my mind spends most of its time...

Elisabeth said...

I'm a lucky soul who rarely suffers insomnia, but I know how awful it can be from the odd occasion on which I could not get to sleep for far too long.

May we all sleep well tonight.

Claire Beynon said...

Dear Marylinn
I've been 'having the talk' with sleep lately, too - not so much cajoling or reprimanding as probing. 'I'd like to understand you better.' I'm trying to more-or-less surrender to whatever comes, from the miraculous 'restorative draught' to the scratchy termites' nest I call BHS (Busy Head Syndrome). Sometimes those wakeful hours in the very early morning turn out to be unusually clarifying or productive and sometimes they're a maddening fray of coiled sheets and burny eyes. Either way, something's being communicated, I suspect - though the puzzle of it can range from compelling to confounding.

To echo Elisabeth's words - may we all sleep well tonight ; )


Kass said...

I wrote this poem about my insomnia last April:

In the evening,
the sinister curl of his lips
forms the first of many
smarmy solicitations
to lie with him.
Holding me flush against the sheets,
he presses.

He authors consternated, greedy love-making,
giving up the plot right away,
submitting endless revisions,
bookmarking me for tomorrow.
Gathering courage, I grab his face,
hold it close to mine.
I scream - I am alive,
not carrion -
I suggest there are others
he could plunder.

With hostile indifference
he reveals his promiscuous need
to drive minions
through his slavish sluices.
He taunts me, tells me
wallowing is all I will ever know.

At dawn,
sated by his manic insistence and with
plagiarized grace,
he grants a partial spasmodic respite,
in which I dream intensely
of wakefulness.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - I am so grateful that it not a frequent one here. There have been bouts but not an eternal state. To function in spite of lack of sleep seems miraculous.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - It is not undervalued at this entity with best-friend status. Whatever your mind wishes to offer is, of course, welcome. Because I find its existence, its bliss, so profound, I think my take on sleep is more as a nearly magical state, something overseen by the does not always get a seat at the table.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Elisabeth - Thank you on behalf of all of us...may we all sleep well tonight. The more I hear from those who are plagued with insomnia, the more grateful I am for not having to know it quite so well.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Claire - The dreaded busy head in times that haven't arrived, borrowing trouble, pressing painfully on unhealed sores or just yammering. Sometimes accompanied by pounding heart syndrome. I can't say that those waking hours have been a source of clarification for me, unless the message is to become still and not be hijacked by the puzzle.

I wonder if we, the human race in the industrialized world, experience sleeplessness more from simple overload and uncertainty.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Thank you so much for sharing your poem, in which insomnia's true nature becomes so clear. Smarmy solicitations, indeed.

Perhaps it is more true of poets than prose writers, I can't say, but those of you I have met here bring such a gift for turning any challenge, any adversity, into art, as though we are being introduced afresh to our own devils, named in a way that allows us to see them differently.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I am one of those who suffer severe insomnia and worrying about it keeps me up all night.

Seriously, it's a chronic problem; my ability to fall into sleep seems to have nothing to do with drowsiness nor fatigue. I am left the remainder of the day in a state of sleep deprivation "hangover". Napping is useless in that I am unable to sleep when I attempt to nap.

Some medications are effective but mostly it is through various forms of relaxation and dumb luck.

A sleep study was done and I was found to have Apnea. An expensive CPAP machine was put into my service which only kept me awake longer.

However, my wife also has apnea and snores rather horribly. Short story - SHE ended up with the CPAP machine and her restful and QUIET slumber is quite conducive to mine. Non-conventional treatment, but it seems to work for now.

Artist and Geek said...

Marylinn :). One of my best friends too and one who rarely abandons me. For that I am grateful. My condolences to insomniacs, science is still in the dark on how to treat.

Not getting enough is a modern epidemic and the age of electricity and globalization a major culprit. Others include nutrition, lack of exercise and yes noise, light and environmental even bad news pollution.

Years ago, I came across an anthropology paper in which they described how our ancestors spent their time: only 20 hours devoted to "work" (hunting and gathering), most of the time was spent dozing, sleeping, playing and laughing. Remote tribes still do the same. Sounds civilized to me.

The purpose, still unknown, but an increasing consensus that it is a time for repair, mind and body alike. Production of neurochemicals that are necessary to function and a recent very interesting study, which found that just one night lost takes two weeks to make up for.

As to lack of sleep, memory impairment, loss of ability to concentrate and in those predisposed it can trigger depression.

So, whenever I can, I leave things undone for the magic of 8 hours. Ode to sleep...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - Unconventional treatment is often better than the other choice. I hope it will prove to be a long-term solution to a state that so erodes our quality of life. Being attached to confining devices would not, I'm sure, make sleep any more accessible. My limited experience with sleep-inducing medication was the cure which made the affliction seem welcome. To quote Elisabeth once more, may we all sleep well tonight...and each night hereafter.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Dozing, sleeping, playing, laughing...why, we would be healthy and whole. And way less likely to be taken in by the flim-flammers. I believe they know how troubled our slumber can be and take full advantage of our depleted states.

Wasn't it Shakespeare who had sleep "knitting up the raveled, careworn sleeve of time..." or something close to that? It does feel like restoration to me, essential as oxygen.

I will gladly leave it all undone for a proper, refueling sleep.

Donna B. said...

How I wish I could have you read to me before I slip away to my slumber...oh, what wonderful dreams I would dream...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Donna - Wishing you sweet dreams, my friend. Thank you. xoxo

Anonymous said...

take to your bed... everything will be better in the morning...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - Such is usually the case. :-)