U up?

Welcome to Insomnia Club. It’s the worst place online and you’re invited

I know I’ve written about this already, but I am a notably bad sleeper. Always have been. It’s not the falling asleep that’s the issue, but the staying asleep. Sometimes I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and I stay up until dawn and then pass back out again; other times I sleep solidly from 11 pm until 4:30 am and then that’s it, I’m just awake for the day. 

This used to happen to me once or twice a week in the Before Era, but now it’s almost a nightly occurrence. I am trying/have tried everything short of actual sleeping pills—meditation, limiting screentime, a sleep mask, melatonin, myriad CBD and THC products—and sometimes they work but usually they don’t. I spent all winter trying to knock myself out with edibles but then I got too dependent on them so I stopped. 

In normal times I just suffer quietly, turning on an episode of 30 Rock or listening to a podcast to try to lull myself back to sleep or spending an hour scrolling through Twitter aimlessly. Again, it sometimes works, but usually it doesn’t. But it became apparent during my middle-of-the-night Twitter scrolling a few weeks ago that the timeline was certainly more awake than it usually is at 3:30 in the morning, so I tweeted into the void.

A couple dozen people tweeted back. A couple hundred liked it, just to check in, I guess. A few DMed me. It was kind of nice, or at least reassuring, to find myself not entirely alone online. I had some conversations with friends and Twitter strangers and eventually fell asleep. So I did it again the next night. And the night after. And the night after that.

I slept soundly one night and my check-in tweets were evidently missed—by one person, anyway—but I followed up in the morning.

Every time I’d tweet, some returning (and new!) people would message me, or say hi, or check in on me. People in other time zones, in California or England or Hong Kong, would say hello because they were awake and seeing my tweets at the normal time when they should have been awake. We became a pseudo-community of stress-induced insomniacs and friends-of-insomniacs. Insomnia Club, if you will.

Here’s the thing about Insomnia Club. It’s not really like, a fun community to be a part of. We’re all stressed out and that stress manifests in us not being able to sleep. It’s nothing like the excitement of staying up too late at a slumber party. People are very candid in the middle of the night when you ask them how they’re doing. Insomnia Club members who I talk to at 3:30 in the morning are anxious about losing their jobs or having their salaries reduced; their friends and families are sick; they’re generally fearful about the state of the world. Some of them have been up all night self-medicating with alcohol or playing video games. They DM me to tell me this, and I tell them about my concerns, but mostly I try to be a sounding board. I’m so used to being awake and by myself in the middle of the night. It’s comforting just to talk to someone else instead of being alone with my thoughts.

For a while last month I woke up every night in the middle of the night; more recently I’ve just been waking up really early, unable to sleep again, begrudgingly getting up and starting my day once the sun rises. I did sleep better for a week or so after the first week of Insomnia Club. I think I was just so fatigued from the stress of the whole global public health crisis we’re dealing with that my body finally just shut down and let me rest. More recently, though, I’ve been back at it again, and given the seemingly interminable state of things, I don’t really think I’ll stop anytime soon. If you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, you should feel free to join us. Insomnia Club is the worst place online in the middle of the night, and we’re all hanging out there together.

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