Sloane Crosley: 'It’s difficult to escape insomnia'

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There are so many good ways to avoid insomnia. As I've grown older and my serotonin levels have dropped and my to-do lists have increased, I have learnt not to take long naps on Sunday if I want to be asleep before midnight. I have learnt not to drink three cups of espresso over the course of a day, only to find myself staring at the ceiling that night, punching my fist into the air, wondering why my brain is terrorising me with consciousness. I have learnt that, when it comes to sleep, the heavy consumption of alcohol is the equivalent of impulse-buying a puppy. At first there's nothing more joyous, but then your body wakes at dawn, whimpering.

Unfortunately, once you're in the grips of insomnia, it's difficult to escape it. True, there are pills that will knock you out, but who wants to get a 3am start on drug use? So you try everything. Warm milk. An eye mask. A turn of the pillow. A move from the bed to the sofa and back. It's not working, is it?

The only psychological trick I know is self-developed and I'm happy to share it now: lie very still, your upper back propped up by a stack of pillows. Pretend you are on an aeroplane and have been in this position for several hours. Now imagine that a flight attendant has inexplicably informed you that you've been upgraded to first class. And not just any first class but "private pod" first class. Remove pillows, lie flat on your back and dream of roasted nuts and hot towels. That feeling of relief, however manufactured, usually does it for me. Just not tonight.

Insomniacs tend to fall into two general categories – those who give up and those who don't. I don't. I refuse to admit defeat by turning on the light. I will not try to read or watch a movie, thank you. Productivity is a crutch of the weak. I will lie there as long as it takes, waiting for the birds and the light and sound of garbage trucks on the street below.

Alas, my resolve has failed me tonight. Some time ago, I left my bed, turned on my computer, which makes a sound that's almost like the "Fasten your seatbelt" sound on an aeroplane. Almost.



Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)

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