There are few things I love more than sleep, especially in times of stress. My tired, worried brain is always on board for the moments during the day when it doesn’t have any connection to reality.
Of course, the times when I am most stressed (and handling things worst) are inevitably when my brain decides lying awake and worrying is the best way to cope.
Here are some irrational things my exhausted brain has tried to deal with sleepless nights–none of which have particularly worked. Perhaps, at the very least, these thoughts will leave you with the comfort that you’re not the only one with a strange, questionably functional mind.
Time travel sci-fi TV with an Occupy Wall Street theme
You know how certain shows seem to jump from one streaming service to another before suddenly disappearing altogether? I made the unfortunate discovery this fate had befallen the Canadian time travel show Continuum, which was so great and (like so much sci-fi) incredibly underrated. And, as stubborn insomniac brains are wont to do, my brain decided re-watching the show in the night’s wee hours was the only thing that would help me magically drift off to sleep–and, naturally, paid to stream all 4 seasons. Who could have guessed the explosions, terrorist plots, machine gun fire, and hostage situations happening regularly on the show wouldn’t be particularly conducive to a restful sleep?
New wave pop of the 1980s
Aztec Camera has been stuck in my head since “Somewhere in My Heart” was unexpectedly featured in the first film of Shark Month 2020, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. Since then, my brain has decided the soundtrack of 2:00 A.M. includes The Jam, Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Eurythmics, Madness, and the Smiths (ugh Morrissey, I know). So perhaps not so much new wave as British artists with a lot of feelings and suspiciously upbeat rhythms masking angry social commentary?
I’ve tried the free versions of both Calm and Headspace within the past month and realized how strange the world of relaxation/meditation apps truly is. Calm is oddly committed to celebrity performances, including Stephen Fry narrating a stroll through the lavender fields of Provence and John McEnroe reading the rules of tennis. It also features a playlist of rain falling on leaves that’s been curated by LeBron James? Whatever the fuck that means. Headspace has its share of surreal experiences too, such as a soothing visit to an antiques shop that is home to a dog who trusts you intrinsically.
Video game playthroughs
Obviously it’s incredibly soothing to listen to the gentle sounds of fictional dragons burning other animals alive and occasionally pushing them from cliffs. Though, honestly, I’m talking about the late ’90s/early ’00s Spyro games for PS1, so there is actually an innocent charm to all of this. And if it makes you feel any better, the creatures in the original game were actually gems that had been transformed to give the illusion of being alive…or something like that. Also making my insomnia playlist are the choice-based games Life Is Strange and The Wolf Among Us, which both involve difficult ethical dilemmas with some terrible unintended consequences. Friends tell me there are also marble racing competitions and Tetris world championships available on YouTube.
Honestly, this is the biggest crock I’ve ever bought into, and I want to light the rest of the box on fire. Not only does this tea taste absolutely awful, but it also has zero effect on my ability to sleep. In fact, the only thing this tea is good for is making you get up to pee like 6 times in the night. Fuck the lying fucking bear on the box’s art who was probably already in hibernation mode before drinking this goddamn tea in the first place.
With all of this being said, I have to count myself lucky. Along with my friends and family, I’m in good health. And I have been able to continue working from home (knock on wood). I’m sure there’s part of my brain that knows this and is trying to do its bit by taking worrying into hyperdrive. So, on the one hand, you may say all I’m doing is needlessly losing sleep by sitting around and stressing about the state of the world. But to you I say I’m a goddamn hero right now, doing my part to prevent the spread of a deadly virus for which there is no cure.
And yeah, not sleeping.