by fffunction

18 Mar 2014

Insomnia creeps up on you

The first few nights can be explained away — a sound that wakes you in the middle of the night, some dehydration from one too many glasses of wine. It’s not until you’ve hardly slept for a couple of weeks that you realise you might have a problem here.

Eight years ago I suddenly got tinnitus — that constant ringing in your ears that you get after a loud gig. Except this didn’t happen when I was rocking out to Deerhoof, it just switched on as I was walking down the street. The first few days of this I was positive it would drive me mad. To have that ringing sounding all the time. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

To my relief I adjusted within a few days, and it seemed to go away. But it’s never really gone, just submerged below other sounds; you tune out of it without realising.

Well, it’s back now. I’ve been waking up after a couple of hours sleep, and it’s like a switch being flicked. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

It’s not the ringing in my ears that’s keeping me awake though. It’s my busy brain trying to solve the checklist of work issues that suddenly occur to me in the middle of the night. 

Some I know I’m going to get fixed, others are bolts from the blue that kick in a dose of adrenaline. The fight or flight response. That’s useful at three in the morning isn’t it?

You know what brain? How’s about letting me sleep until a reasonable hour, and letting me deal with this when I’ve had some rest?

These work issues that wake me up during the night, they accumulate, start to gain a kind of weight, so that I’m already worried I won’t sleep each time I go to bed. 

It doesn’t have to be like this. A problem that seems absolutely critical in the dark gloom of the lounge — where I have retired to avoid waking my long-suffering partner with my thrashings — once the morning has arrived, it again seems manageable, a regular problem that will be solved by going to work and getting it done. So what changed? 

I need to remember that I’m surrounded by talented and able friends at fffunction. That we get this stuff done, all the time. But my brain seems to forget that every night, and starts racking up the issues into some orderly queue. What about this. And this. Have you thought of that?

Well, I’m glad to say that the insomnia has decreased in the last month. I’m still waking up around three or four most nights, but I’m finding I’m able to sleep again. These things come in waves, I tell myself. Work is either too boring, or too stressful. Finding that sweet spot right in the middle is the holy grail.

I’m lucky that I have that sweet spot more than most. I’m thankful I’ve been supported through my insomnia by friends and family. I hope that by writing this I’ll have worked it out of my system a little.

And maybe it’ll help if you ever have this. Because it does get better.

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