No, You Can’t Die From Insomnia

Tyler HurstBlog6 Comments

I haven’t slept more than four hours in a row in over a month, save for once when I followed cider with eggnog and rum — but that’s not real sleep.

I’m talking about restful, pleasant sleep. Without vivid dreams. Without having to take NyQuil at 2am. Without having to mix Percocet (prescription, I had my toenails removed and one got infected) and nighttime Alka Seltzer.

I’ve seen Fight Club. I know insomnia can’t kill you, a doctor told the narrator that. But he apparently forgot the part about driving and nearly nodding off, walking down a street and forgetting to look both ways when crossing it, or bashing through automatic doors you forgot were supposed to open on their own.

I know what’s causing part of it: I haven’t been able to run in over three weeks. Hell, I haven’t been able to SWEAT in over three weeks. Thanks to my now-removed toenails and the subsequent complications, my normal method of tiring myself out hasn’t been an option.

And it’s not like I don’t sleep, I just do it in shifts. Four hours from 3 to 7am. Maybe a 90-minute nap in the afternoon. Perhaps a two-hour nap at 5pm that was supposed to be 30 minutes.

I know what you’re thinking: Tyler, you’re an idiot. Stop taking those naps, lay off the caffeine, and you’ll be fine. Except I’m not. You see, I can’t work when I’m not rested. I’m terrible at my job. I can’t keep track of anything, my ideas suck, and the world just won’t adjust to my schedule, no matter how much I’d like it to.

I cope with Guayaki and the occasional latte or cup of coffee. I don’t have it regularly, only when falling asleep would be a detriment to my physical health or professional responsibilities. I eat regular, healthy meals composed mainly of non-processed, healthy foods. I go to bed at the same time every night. I tried sleeping aids, but the grogginess is just as bad as being tired.

I read a lot. I’ve probably read 90% of the internet right now. I’ve surely read everyone’s tweets and Facebook updates. I’ve answered all my client’s page questions. None of that makes me tired.

I read books, too. Read half of George Takei’s latest last night, then watched the Daily Show, then read some of Die Empty, then listened to classical music, then a podcast back in bed. Then I got up again.

I’d love to say this lack of sleep has given me super powers. I’d love to say I now have more time to more stuff. But nothing works for me when I sleep. If my brain never gets a chance to shut down, it can’t refuel.

I know I can’t die from insomnia, but sometimes it feels like it.

Tyler HurstNo, You Can’t Die From Insomnia

6 Comments on “No, You Can’t Die From Insomnia”

  1. Bjorn Karlman

    Tyler, just came across your blog. What an intro post! As a writer, have you tried doing some long-term travel while doing freelance writing to pay for it? Travel definitely isn’t a cure-all (jet-lag definitely won’t help with the sleep) but relocating to somewhere cheap for a while (SE Asia is great for this) might allow you some space to deconstruct and get away from some of the causes of current sources of stress. At worst, it could be a very low cost experiment. My rent in Thailand right now (with utilities and wifi) is less than $200/month and lowered financial pressures have allowed for all kinds of growth and experimentation in my life.

    1. Tyler Hurst

      I definitely have, though I’d really miss spending time with my wife. Need to figure out something that works, and I’ve heard that traveling does. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Joe

    That sounds terrible.

    Have you tried other exercise that doesn’t involve using your feet such as weigh training? It might tire you out enough to sleep a bit better?

    Good luck!

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