Credit Jason Zuckerman

Insomnia Stream of Consciousness

I have seen others do this and have always found it interesting. Saturday night I was again thrust into the misery of insomnia. It didn’t last as long as those endless nights in July, but it was accompanied by repeated cyclic anxiety attacks. It was uncomfortable and I found myself wishing I could find a way to explain what it felt like. I began to narrate a stream of consciousness in my head, and the following day I sat down to capture the feelings and sensations of a restless night.

What follows is grammatical gibberish. Is it free form poetry? I have used this as a baseline to begin writing an actual poem. I have never written a poem with actual rhythm or meter. I thought I would give it a try. If it actually gets finished I will share it here if folks promise to be gentle. So here it is, a collage of thought and feeling…


When I lay down I say it won’t happen tonight.

That’s the innate defense mechanism that lets the human race function

That idea that it won’t happen to me. In a world with death being the only certainty

If we believe in its imminence we would be unable to function

For some that natural system doesn’t work quite right.

The danger alarm is too sensitive. Awareness is always raised.

It’s the voice that sneaks in and overrides


My mind won’t stop. One side saying it won’t happen

The other side completely scattered and racing.

Trying to Sleep, but you can’t sleep if you try

The clock becomes a presence in the room

I shouldn’t look but I do. The numbers glow red. Evil.

Calculating the hours left, considering the fatigue


I can suddenly feel my heart rate increasing

Can almost hear the thump. Thump. Thump

A sense of unease settles over me. I know what is next

Pimples of moisture appear on my skin.

It is cold in the room but I am hot

The covers are pushed off, my brow is wet


I try not to move but I am uncomfortable

A once subtle urge to flee is now building

Deep breaths. In. Hold. Release. In. Hold. Release.

“There is no Bear.” “There is no Bear.”

The fear is false but real.


Minutes tick past. 10. 15. 20.

Slowly the tension eases.

Heart slows. Sweat stops.

The moisture leaves me chilled, Sheets are clammy

Find a new position. Pull cover up. Warmth.

Will Sleep come now? Maybe. Maybe Not



Late Night Gives way to early morning.

Calculating. Shouldn’t have looked.

The respite ends. Heat is building again

Restlessness and palpitations Increase

I know what is coming. Quiet in my misery I feel the fear build


Again the minutes tick buy.

It feels like forever but I find some peace in knowing it is not.

Waiting for it to pass. I know it has when I can pull the quilt over again.

The tightness s easing. I yawn. Will sleep come now?

Maybe. Maybe Not. Tick. Tock. Tick Tock.


*Credit for the Painting at the top of this post goes to Jason Zuckerman


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