Insomnia is a recursive antipattern. I can’t fall asleep for whatever butterfly effect reason, but I want to solve the problem so I try to isolate the particular butterfly. This gets my brain working (not conducive to sleep).
I can’t solve it so I feel inadequate for trying, setting off off a tinge of guilt for trying, and meanwhile a self-feeding anxiety that I still can’t sleep. I begin to recite scoldy Mayo Clinic-type statements about how important and obvious and underrated is the need for 8 or 6 or 9 or whatever integer of sleep hours logged is more than I’m going to get. I wonder what the consequences will be and if they’ll be tomorrow or when I’m sixty while down in another hemisphere the guilt tinge I’ve been tickling with a screwdriver is beginning to approach demon core criticality.
Solution: give up, give in. You just won a free all-nighter.
Get up. Grab phone from charger.¹ Prop iPad on chest. Grab headphones from nightstand charger. Procure notebook and pen. Sit up a few picas and grab a book. Administer headache/gastric/sleep aid/chamomile-type medication as needed.
Draft the next morning’s email. Loaten to the midnight Chapo drop. Look up what
antipattern means, again. Write this essay.
The splendidly ironic butt of the joke is usually after about ten to forty minutes you will crash asleep and in 2–5 hours find your phone stuck to your sweaty back.
And if not, free productive all-nighter. Sleep will find you when it’s needed.
If this is chronic: probably look into it medically as you can access and afford. But a sleepless night every fortnight or two is now—to me—a half-decent writing session, one or two notches below having a Guinness alone, relaxed and confident, at Swift.
¹ Nighttime iOS tip: Reduce White Point. Crank that to 100% and you now have an astronomer-grade iris-relaxing screen. I have this mapped to triple-clicking the side button for easy toggling.