“I've always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.”
― David Benioff, City of Thieves
MY PERSONAL STRUGGLE WITH SLEEP
It was 2005, I was 26 and living in shared house in Adelaide. It was an old bluestone house with high ceilings and creaking floors. I shared it with two other professionals and except for the occasional communal house party, we lead busy lives and kept mostly to ourselves.
At that time I worked in hospitality pulling 10-hour shifts on a 24-hour rotating roster. Those of you who've worked in hospitality know the futility in attempting to go straight sleep after your shift. You're too wired and full of adrenalin from the shift; the faced paced, high energy atmosphere of the pub, club or in my case a Casino.
It made no difference if I arrived home from work at 10 am, 4 pm or 10 pm; my insomnia-tic ritual would inevitably play itself out like a nightmarish version of Groundhog Day. Let me know if any of this sounds familiar:
- Lying in bed wide awake
- Staring at the ceiling
- Staring at the wall
- Tossing and turning till my bed sheets threaten to suffocate me
- Watching movies
- Reading books
- Listening to music
- Googling around the net
- Any distraction I can think of in an attempt to lure myself to slumber
It was common for me to go 3 sometimes 4 days with as little as 2 hours sleep in total. In those days I was constantly on edge, never fully awake and never fully asleep, the world is a surreal, cold and hostile place when you live always in the space between night and day.
Desperate, I managed to convince my doctor to prescribe sleeping pills, grudgingly he obliged, but only a mild dose and only a 7-day prescription to assist establish a sleep pattern. "...But I'm a rotating shift worker!!! there is no sleep pattern!"
I remember feeling a combination of relief, excitement and anticipation as I arrived home from the pharmacy. I took a hot shower, relishing the thought of the long oblivion that would soon engulf me. I went to my room, hung a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my door knob and crawled into bed.
A groggy haze fell over me... It was wonderful... I drifted off to sleep. Two hours later I was AWAKE! With no hope of getting back to sleep. This was the pattern of the six remaining days of my prescription. Each day after work I took the little white pill in the hope it would gift me eight solid hours sleep. But each time I woke after 2 hours and could not get back to sleep.
MY PERSONAL SLEEP SOLUTION
I was desperate. I reached for my laptop and started searching for a permanent solution. What I found was a never ending trail of lists advising me too; cut out caffeine, cut out sugar, have a warm shower before bed, burn lavender oil etc... All great advice, but all things I was currently doing to no avail...
I stumbled across a website talking about meditation technology proven to alter brain wave patterns as you listen to recordings. I've always been interested in holistic solutions PROVIDED THEY WORK. I practised a variety of meditation techniques in the past, but I found I was too WIRED after a shift I wasn't able to get myself into a meditative state, only resulting in more frustration.
I ordered the recording online, however, was sceptical about the results I would get. After all, curing insomnia was not listed as the main benefit of this product, only a side effect of it. Five agonising days later I received the demo. When my shift finished that night I went home, hopped into bed, put on my headphones and pressed Play...
I woke up 7 hours later. And the next night, another 7 solid hours of sleep... This continued every night for a week. I felt clearer and more energised than I'd felt in years. My memory was better, my mood was better and I looked like a normal human being again. I went back and ordered the next level recording to ensure the longevity of the results I was receiving.
Twelve years later and I've not suffered from insomnia since. Every now and again I might have a night where I struggle to get to sleep (I finished my treatment years ago) all I do is plug into the recording and by the time the track is finished I'm asleep.