OPINION: Last week I wrote about my wife's insomnia, a condition I wouldn't wish upon anybody. I'm pleased to report she has slept well for the past few nights. Sleep results in a different person sitting across from me at the breakfast table, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to face the world.
Being a world-champion sleeper myself, I wasn't aware of how many people suffer from insomnia. But judging by the responses I received after last week's column, my wife's not the only one lying awake all night.
I've written about a bunch of topics since I started this columnist gig, but last week's article surprised me with the most feedback I've ever received. It seems insomniacs are an even larger group than Catholics who were quick to mobilise when I wrote some pro-Pope stuff.
People emailed, phoned, commented and snail-mailed me with various cures. Non-sleepers cut across a wide swath of society; it doesn't matter if you're a CEO or a minimum-wage labourer, it will sneak up on you and before you know it you're getting out of bed in a worse state than you got into it.
The only demographic that didn't contact me were teenagers, who seem to be able to sleep no matter what. Maybe we need to extract something from teenagers' blood to inject into old folks so that they can share in the blissful slumber. Even if the side effects included pimples, oily skin, a bad attitude towards your parents and a vocabulary that consists of grunts and sighs, sleep-deprived adults would be lined up around the block for their daily dose of teenage-sleep-juice.
I have compiled all of the solutions which I can supply to anyone that's desperate enough. A short summation includes: Don't drink, avoid caffeine, ingest magnesium, turn lights off early, white noise, wear rose-tinted glasses in the evening, have sex, never use the word "fartsack" again, don't have sex, sleep facing north or west, take drugs, never take drugs, clean the bathroom floor and leave your husband if he's a dropkick who writes about your problems in the paper.
During my correspondence with strangers I've learned that insomnia can be dangerous. It can kill you if you don't sleep eventually. I explained this to my wife and it just gave her another thing to worry about as she lay awake.
I've also learned that a discussion on insomnia can be the nicest moderator on the press.co.nz comment section. Normally I avoid this part of the website as it just makes me anxious and uptight and causes me to lie awake worrying about offending people for the 10 minutes between when I climb into bed and fall asleep.
But this week it was full of people being kind to my wife and to one other. Maybe more kindness to one another wouldn't hurt us as a town. I don't know if it would cure the collective insomnia, but it would make the place a bit nicer.
With all the advice it's hard to pick which option to try. But my favourite was an email I received from a man named Malcolm who said: "They've discovered a cure for insomnia. Get some sleep."
- The Press