Insomnia: The Good, The Bad, And The Horrific

For me, insomnia is more than just a Stephen King novel. At the start of the pandemic, it became clear that sleep is not something that comes easy for me. I thought it was just the increased stress, but the more I thought about it, the more I remembered all of the other times in my life I’ve struggled to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. And although my doctor had me on sleep medication for a little while last year, the only times I truly have a restful sleep are when my stress levels are low and my usual routine remains uninterrupted.

With the sudden change in my routine and the extra stress that came from temporarily losing my part time job, the worst of the sleep issues that I fought off last year have returned with a vengeance. I’m struggling to sleep through the night, my energy levels during the day are nowhere near what I’m used to. And factor in the fact that the stress and sleeplessness makes my IBS flare up… Which, in turn, makes my stress, sleep problems, and energy levels worse. It’s a vicious cycle that I hope to break once I’m back at work and back to my usual routine and work/life balance.

But there is a bonus that comes along with all of this. Thanks to my restless nights, I’m more aware of my nightmares. Yes, you read that right. The nightmares are the good part. Ever since I was a child, I can remember having some really vivid and horrific nightmares. And yes, the worst of them can be considered horror.

As an adult, I have learned to use those nightmares as inspiration for my writing. “The Screams”, one of the stories in They See Me, was born out of a particularly rough night during the first year of the pandemic. I am also working on a cosmic horror novel titled The Tunnel which is inspired by another pandemic induced nightmare involving how sound (and lack thereof) can be used as a form of torture. And when I joined another AutoCrit writing challenge and needed an idea for a story, I turned to my most recent late-night flash of inspiration. But more on that story in a later blog post.

So, the recurring sleep issues aren’t all that bad. And given that I’m such a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, I really love the fact that I’ve been able to get some good story ideas out of my dreams and nightmares. Now, if only I had enough energy during the day after these semi-sleepless nights to be able to write everything down.

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