Insomnia is a terrible thing. I’ve suffered from it my entire life, as well as nightmares, night sweats, night terrors, and sleepwalking.
Somnambulism (walking in one’s sleep) is of course, the most dangerous of the above mentioned afflictions. The first time I remember it occurring in my own life, I was around five years of age. I woke, completely disoriented, in the middle of a crosswalk with an elderly neighbour, still in her robe, curlers, and facial cream trying desperately to pull me out of the street and into safety. It wouldn’t be the last time, nor even the most perilous to my health or someone else’s.
The problem, I think, is that my brain (such as it is) is running all the time. I’m always thinking of something or someone, and my thoughts are more often than not worrisome.
When I do get a good sleep, it’s one of the most pleasurable experiences I can think of. I’ve envied Rip Van Winkle my entire life.
On the other hand, there are some upsides to insomnia. And even nightmares. Nightmares, as horrible as they can be, are a sign that you are still alive, that you still care, that you’re still struggling toward something. Same thing goes for insomnia.
Walking in one’s sleep is a different matter entirely. If you actually suffer from somnambulism, in the strictest medical sense, I’d advise you to seek help from a medical professional. If you can find one.
But if you spend your waking life walking in your sleep, unaware to the events around you, be they personal, professional, or political, then you have a very serious problem indeed. One that only you can solve. Some home remedies that I can recommend involve becoming engaged in your family life, your community, and yes, though it may cause insomnia, the political world that seemingly determines the fate of not only yourself but the aforementioned state of your family and community. The thing to remember is that, while engaged in such matters, is that it’s all just a bad dream. You have to have bad dreams; we all have them. We just don’t have to live them. We can make our own dreams; good ones. We can make them come true.
There is a Buddhist tale about a man walking down a country road when he crosses paths with Buddha himself. The man realises there is something special about his fellow traveller; something supernatural, perhaps. And so he asks him “Are you a man?”
“No,” the Buddha replies.
“Are you a wizard?”
“Are you a god?”
“Then what are you?”
And then Buddha replies…
“I am awake.”
The song Taimse Mo Chodladh is not actually about sleeping, it’s about death and the peace that (hopefully) comes with it. That’s my interpretation, anyway. It’s a beautiful song. Sometimes, listening to it even helps my insomnia and other sleep issues.
But if it’s a choice between a good sleep and being awake and aware, well then…
I’ll sleep when I’m dead.