Small (sleep) talks: when others begin to discuss their sleep
I’m writing this letter from an old and very modest hotel just below the beautiful mountain Matterhorn.
To get here, you need to park your car in the town and take a cable car. The cable car works until around 4pm so most of the hotel guests spend their whole trip up at the hotel: skiing until 4pm and then trying to invent indoor activities to fill the rest of the day.
They usually end up hanging out in the main hall by fireplace talking and drinking beer.
Today in the hall I heard the group of people talking about how they sleep.
Thinking about my previous insomnia days, I would definitely get tensed if someone was to open this topic. I would dread hearing or speaking about sleep because it would only remind me how “weird and unique” my problem was compared to others.
I feel like sleep is one of those small talk topics – a pretty meaningless exchange without a particular goal. Like, when you don’t know what to talk about, you talk about the weather… or sleep.
And you can often hear people saying phrases like:
“I had a terrible night! Spent half of it tossing and turning“
“Ugh, I feel like train hit me today“
“It always takes me ages to fall asleep“
“My partner snored the whole time, I didn’t sleep at all“
And it’s funny how rare people talk about the good experience: “I slept wonderfully! I can always get amazing sleep!“
So hearing people discussing (and complaining) about their sleep got me thinking about two things:
1. They usually take crappy nights lightly…
… because a crappy night doesn’t mean much to them. A sleepless night isn’t perceived the same way people with insomnia perceive such nights.
Of course they might not feel their best, but in the way they speak about their nights there isn’t that deep emotional attachment. They have a bumpy night, complain about it to someone (or not) and then go on with their day, unaffected.
That said, in no way am I minimizing anyone’s suffering! Things can get really tough and frustrating when we feel nothing but dread on a sleepless night. I’ve been there and I know that at times it can get pretty damn dark.
But if we can normalize having an occasional crappy night – because it is so normal for non-insomniacs too – then the pressure to have a better night can go down which can lead to having less struggle with sleep itself! You are not any less of a person just because last night happened to be not ideal.
In fact, looking at how “good“ sleepers react to their sleepless nights can teach us a lot about how we can end our struggles too. Of course, that isn’t always easy and smooth, but to me, observing “good” sleepers was like a blueprint for my recovery.
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2. They can complain about a crappy night…
… and so can you! I know that sometimes we talk about how not letting the night to impact our day can be beneficial in the long run. But I often notice people feel this enormous pressure because they think they can’t complain and vent.
People feel like they have to stay positive – but does trying to be positive always leads to becoming positive? Not really, in fact it can do the opposite of that! So let’s learn from those without insomnia: it’s okay to complain, especially if it helps us feel like normal human beings. 🙂 You don’t have to censor yourself at all times. Sometimes letting the frustration out can be so relieving and freeing.
I hope this short letter was useful in any way. Wishing you a lovely day ❤️