Sunday, August 4, 2013


Well, it's been a while.  Not because I haven't had anything to say, but because when I start writing, I really don't know where to start and when to stop with everything that has been going on lately.

August is my last month in the USA, and a difficult time in many ways as I know some pretty big challenges and changes lie ahead; so I am going to try to blog more, daily if I can manage it, to update things, help me focus on the positives, and to help me keep things a bit more organised inside my head...

However, as usual, it is 3.17 am, I am not asleep and it is this time when it feels like my brain comes alive.  I have  journal called "I can't sleep" (It's from this company HERE.

(Inside the journal the copyright states that "brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews" can be used without pre-obtained permission; so I intend this to be considered a review and critical article that discusses the journal, journaling, and insomnia.)

This is the journal:

Personally, I think it is fantastic.  My mum got me it for my birthday.  It is also filled with famous quotes (and now many of my own thoughts) from famous writers, philosophers, world leaders and others, many relating to sleep.... or rather, the lack of it.

Tonight I have picked my very favourite quote, from Dostoyevsky: "To be too conscious is an illness - a real thoroughgoing illness." I think I might take that page to my doctor.... I am definitely "too conscious"!

One of my favourite Scottish authors,  Alexander McCall Smith, often writes on his own facebook page. He gets up in the middle of the night to write, then goes back to bed when the sun comes up. This made me think about him:

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." - Saul Bellow, a nobel-prize winning novelist.

Personally, I love this next one, as it conjures up ideas in my mind of all these thoughts simply floating about, looking for a conscious mind in which to enter and be realised: "Nighttime is the best time to work.  All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep." - Catherine O'Hara

Att the beginning of the journal, there is some information about insomnia and it says "we sleep only when we need to and are awake when we're most productive."  Well, I sure as hell am not productive during the day!  So I'll definitely take being productive in the middle of the night.... it has to happen at some time - right?!  And lying in my bed writing definitely counts!

It also goes on to say that Marcel Proust and William Shakespeare wrote when they couldn't sleep and that Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte were famous for "conducting their affairs in a sleep-deprived state." I have also read in various places that Margaret Thatcher never slept for more than 5 hours when she was prime minister of the UK.  

As my insomnia as plagued me over the past few years, I have read more about it and discovered the world of chronobiology - the study of sleep and circadian rhythms which currently holds that we all operate on our own body's natural cycle - some of us are naturally night owls, some are larks (morning people); some of us may have a 24 hour cycle, but others may have a cycle that veers entirely away from what we, culturally, consider to be 'normal'.  Another 'listen to your body' piece of advice.  Funny how that makes so much sense in every context...

It also says "journaling" is highly beneficial and claims studies have proven that "physical benefits include stress management, strengthened immune systems, fewer doctor visits and improvement in chronic illnesses such as asthma..."

I wonder if blogging counts as a form of journaling... I do both, and have kept a journal or a diary since I was a child.  The intro also says journaling, "forces us to transform the ruminations cluttering our minds into coherent stories..."   Not only do I love the idea, but it's such a beautiful and eloquent way of wording it.  Plus 'ruminations' is definitely one of my favourite words.

It goes on to further explore the idea that writing your thoughts in a journal when you can't sleep "can be seen as a way of organizing the conscious stuff floating around your brain..."

Personally, I quite like the part that says insomnia "could just mean you are smarter than the blithely snoozing masses and have more to say than they do"!  I doubt anyone would disagree that I talk way too much!  It also goes on to say that apparently "studies have found that night owls are, in fact, more intelligent and have better memories than early risers."  

Perhaps this is just to make all the readers feel better about their lack of sleep... But perhaps I should not complain about my insomnia and embrace my enhanced creativity and capture all those ideas that seem to appear out of the darkness - in all honesty, the only reason it bothers me is because everyone else seems to operate on a different schedule!

I often tell people (really, I mean doctors) I don't have a problem actually sleeping, it's more the falling asleep and waking up (at a specified time) that cause me problems.  Sleeping when my body wants to sleep is very peaceful!  However, having given up my sleeping tablets, as my tolerance increased and they were not working as they should have; forcing sleep is close to impossible, and so as daylight appears and the birds start to sing, I usually begin to feel sleepy... ear plugs and an eye mask a necessity.

And now, as the cicadas have gone quiet and the birds are beginning to sing, I will quote the last quote in the book and hope sleep is soon forthcoming: "... and so to bed." - Samuel Pepys.

Good night!

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