Insomnia, that dreaded word which drives most people out of their minds, is a common phenomenon today. People keep wondering why is it that they’re unable to sleep after a hard day’s work. Plenty of research, and whatever else that researchers do on these kinds of subjects, has been done. The most common result of these researches says that insomnia is the result of today’s fast-paced, stressful lifestyle led by most adults. All of these results, research and findings were of no consequence to me at all. I would just skip through these kinds of articles while reading newspapers because for me falling asleep was no problem at all. And I’ve never been able to relate to people who find it hard to go to sleep. One of the many wonderful things of being a swimmer is that you never have to worry about falling asleep (but we sure have to worry about falling asleep at all the wrong places!). Just give us a pillow, or most would agree with me when I say even that is not necessary, and we’re off on to another world within a snap of your fingers.

However, lately, I’ve been facing a problem that I’d never thought of as a problem in the first place. Yes, that dreaded disease called insomnia had struck me too! Due to my injury, I had been advised complete bed-rest by my doctor. This meant that I’d gone from spending hours at the pool doing gruelling workouts to just lying on the bed all day long. Initially, I must admit this diktat by the doctor of complete rest was very appealing. When you work your body day in and out beyond its limits, it craves for rest, which I was giving in ample amounts now. I kept sleeping and my body and mind just kept soaking in all the rest that it had been craving for all these months.

But there finally came a time point when my body had rested enough and it started craving to go back to its daily regimen of exercise. That, my friends, is when the entire problem began. No workout meant no physical exertion which meant no exhaustion which meant no sleepy feeling which in turn meant sleepless nights. In spite of having spent the whole day wide awake trying to do whatever limited activities I was permitted to do, the problem persisted- I could not sleep at night. Here on, I found a new goal for myself. I set upon a mission to make myself fall asleep.

I asked around a little, I googled falling asleep methods and here’s a peek into some of the methods tried by me to fall asleep-

  • Meditation
  • Counting sheep
  • Deep breathing
  • Listening to soft music
  • Chanting some mantras

There are a lot more ways on the list but its pretty long and some I’d just rather not mention it here. I’d like to say here that all of these above mentioned methods and the rest on my list are complete crap. They do not work. These websites that I’d googled never advertised the fact that there was a very good possibility their solutions might not work. They did nothing to bring back my sleep to me. It still evaded me. I worried that I’d turned into one of those nocturnal creatures who have shaped their lives around staying awake at night. I was almost on the verge of singing, “O bring back O bring back O bring back my sleep to me, to me”. I’m not trying to be funny here. I was that desperate.

And the more I worried, the more sleep evaded me. So I finally gave up. I just let myself be. Let my sleep be wherever it is. I decided to let it come back to me whenever it was ready to do so. And guess what happened next?! Nope, there was no dramatic Bollywood movie-style change of heart experienced by my sleep. It still refuses to come back. I’m still an insomniac. It’s just not ready to return, I guess. And so I continue to spend sleepless and restless nights only to get up feeling groggy and with a pounding head in the morning. But the only difference now is that I’ve stopped trying to fight it and I’ve made peace with my sleepless-ness. In fact, as I’m typing this its 2 a.m. in the morning. I can watch my parents and sister sleep, hear their snores, feel the calmness of the night, listen to its silence and yet here I sit in front of my laptop writing this article.

I do not know how many of you out there will be able to relate to this experience of mine. I realize that I’m currently in a no man’s land- neither am I living a swimmer’s life nor a regular person’s life. Still I hope that if ever any of you come across this problem, you’ll remember my experience and not try to fight it, for sleep is very precious that needs to be earned. On this note, I’ll say ciao.

-Lekha Kamat

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