I’ve been prone to fits of insomnia for nearly as long as I can remember. As a kid, I’d wake up and use the red glow of my digital alarm clock to read whatever book I had handy on my bedside table until my eyelids would once again become heavy with the need for sleep.
This has continued as my usual routine as an adult, but I’ve made it a bit easier to read when I wake with the acquisition of both my fancy phone and my ereader.
For the most part this routine worked pretty well. It meant more time to read and sometimes write uninterrupted in the middle of the night and that always seemed like a gift.
For a while though, those routine 45 – 60 minutes in the middle of the night turned into 2 or 3 hour hand-wringing bouts of insomnia a few days a week. One could try to blame stress, but these events seemed to have little connection to whatever else was going on in my life. I was wide awake and exhausted and fearful of being the wild-eyed over-caffeinated grouch I knew I’d be if sleep didn’t come soon.
And then it stopped.
I was put on medication to help me better prevent my migraines and one of the side effects was that it almost completely eradicated any sleeplessness I had experienced before. I’d descend into a deep sleep quickly and barely be able to shake the cobwebs from my brain by the end of first period the next morning after two cups of coffee.
I certainly missed my wide-awake-at-4am brain for a long time…until it started to come back without aid of an alarm clock.
And so is my usually brief middle-of-the-night interlude.
Right now it feels like welcoming back an old friend.
As I’ve been scribbling with our Young Writers this week, I have found myself revisiting this idea of routines, of what we expect and what we accept for ourselves as “normal,” but until I was up in this morning’s wee small hours with an imagination that is stuck in overdrive, I hadn’t made a connection to my own sleep habits. (Some of my visions of my characters are shifting as I am writing this post.)
What I do know is that writing breeds the need for more writing and imagination, once sparked, continues to fuel itself.
Even when the rest of the world is fast asleep.