Monday, June 19, 2017

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM

There's nothing like a Monday morning after a night of insomnia. If I had a “regular” job, I’d be disturbed knowing I would experience a non-productive day. However, even in my retirement jobs, lack of restorative sleep during “night shifts,” gives me pause. I don’t feel comforted knowing that half of us humans have insomnia at some time during a given year. And the fact that 40% of women in the U.S. experience nocturnal awakenings doesn’t lessen my dismay over lack of sleep.

There’s a lot of information about overcoming insomnia circulating in the world of information today, including threats of health problems if the condition persists.  Counting sheep isn’t one of the cures for sleeplessness, but treatment includes use of drugs, ingesting plant potions such as lavender and chamomile, abstaining from alcohol and caffeine but no permanent “fix” has proven useful for insomniacs.

People are often reluctant to talk about their insomnia because a stock answer from good sleepers is: “You must have a bad conscience.” In the soliloquy by Hamlet in Shakespeare’s drama, Hamlet, Prince Hamlet, who laments his mental and moral anguish in the phrase, “To sleep, perchance to dream,” expresses his longing for dreamless sleep but questions whether he’ll find peace even after death. And sometimes when insomniacs long for a night of peaceful sleep, they wonder if they’ll ever achieve that state where dreams and nightmares won’t interrupt tranquil snoozing.

In 2014 I published a volume of poems entitled Night Offices in which I explored the uses and cures for insomnia, famous characters who have suffered from this malady such as W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, and Thomas Edison, and wrote that “four vigils of the night you wake/with desolation for a pillow,/phantom crucifixions hover:/monsters that pull your soul from sleep/peer over the edge of a ceiling fan…” and commented that no matter where I closed my eyes, “shadows still played on the ceiling, /memories walked in on crutches/long past their curfew,/ a lightship lowered its anchor in the room…”

Well, that bit of serious deliberation about lack of sleep should awaken insomniacs! Actually, at a book sale showcasing all of my poetry books, I ran out of Night Offices because so many insomniac readers appeared. Anyway, the sun is out, predicted rain hasn’t fallen, and here’s hoping you got a good night’s sleep and didn't get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!

PS: I know the character above appeared in this blog earlier, but she did change the color of her outfit overnight and her suffering posture doesn't indicate that she consumed chocolate this time.




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