As any insomniac knows, sleeplessness is a special kind of torture. It’s not just being tired the next day. It’s the hours you spend awake at night trying to fill the time, anxiously trying idea after idea about how to get to sleep. Well-meaning friends and doctors are full of suggestions, but sometimes nothing works.

Here’s one insomniac’s journey through a sleepless night to help you feel less alone when you’re awake in the middle of the night.


10:00 p.m. After an exhausting day, which followed a sleepless night, it’s time to think about trying to go to sleep again. Time to enjoy some valerian root tea to see if that does the trick. Hey, the articles said it would … maybe I’ll catch an episode of John Oliver to relax.

11:00 p.m. I’m so exhausted, and my eyelids feel heavy. I turn off the light and hope I fall asleep soon …

11:15 p.m. Still wide awake. I probably shouldn’t have watched anything after all. They say no screens an hour before bedtime … but who really follows that advice?

11:45 p.m. OK, this isn’t working. Time to grab a really boring book. I never did understand the difference between DNA and RNA, so now’s the time to catch up on some biology. I pull it off the shelf of my desk before I remember that you’re not supposed to have a workspace in your bedroom if you have insomnia. Congrats to all the insomniacs out there who can afford additional office space.

12:15 a.m. Knowing nothing more about genetics than I did 30 minutes ago, I decide to turn off the light.

1:00 a.m. Was I asleep for a few minutes, or have I been awake this whole time? My back is sore and my bed is uncomfortable. Time to take a shower to relax.

1:30 a.m. OK, now my hair is wet and my back doesn’t feel better, but time to try to go to sleep again. I turn on the space heater and close my eyes.

1:45 a.m. I’ve never been one for counting sheep, but I try a meditation exercise I learned in which I picture myself on a warm beach.

1:55 a.m. OK, I’m not on a warm beach, or anywhere like that. I’m here in my bed, with my insomnia striking in full force.

2:10 a.m. Maybe I’m hungry? I go downstairs and make scrambled eggs.

2:30 a.m. Back in bed, and I shouldn’t have eaten. Now I’m even more energized than I was before.

2:45 a.m. Why, why, why? I spot the time on my clock and realize I have to wake up for work in a little over three hours. I mutter a few curse words at it. Then I unplug it.

3:15 a.m. I know it’s not a good idea for insomniacs, but I pick up my phone and check social media. No new likes on the witty one-liner I posted earlier. Did no one like it? Or are they all just asleep? Either way, not cool, guys.

3:30 a.m. I read somewhere that if you can’t sleep, resting can still be beneficial. So I try to enjoy the warmth and comfort of my bed before I have to get out of it in two and a half hours.

6:00 a.m. My alarm goes off. Did I sleep? I guess, because otherwise I wouldn’t be waking up now. I’m going to need some serious coffee to make it through today … but not so much that I’m awake all night again.