Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A hypothesis about insomnia

I haven’t been able to get the stars to align for another run, mostly because I haven’t been sleeping that well. “Insomnia” is probably too strong a word for what I have, though. Last night, for example, I slept from 10 to 4:30, woke up to go to the bathroom, and then tossed and turned until the alarm went off.

So that’s annoying, but it’s not like I’m suffering badly here on 6½ solid hours of sleep. I am wondering, though, why I just can’t get my brain to shut off when I would rather be unconscious. Of course I blame the political “landscape,” Twitter getting me even more riled up about it, and the underlying fear that the world has only about 30 years left even if we don’t blow ourselves up this month. But all that is also peppered with minor concerns about the kids…work…other people’s problems…an annoying thing someone did…an annoying thing someone said…. I hate that stuff like keeps me awake.

It made me think of a podcast I heard recently (“The Importance of Boredom”), which argued that our brains and bodies need downtime to deal with the things that happen to us. It wasn’t talking about sleeping specifically, but about the fact that we fill every spare moment with some sort of entertainment—Facebook, computer games, television, or, in my particular case, podcasts on my phone literally every time I’m doing any kind of housework or yardwork. The point was that all this robs us of the times of boredom/inactivity that we need to process our emotions and tend to our spiritual lives.

If that’s true, then lying in bed might be darn near the only downtime I ever give my brain—and no wonder it starts jumping around to every worry I ever had the minute it stops being occupied. I think I’m going to start being very deliberate for a while about not entertaining myself constantly—and maybe taking more quiet walks without the phone—to see if that helps.

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