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The trouble with insomnia is that it functions as a positive feedback loop.  I distinctly remember learning about such loops in grade 9 science, back when I was taking classes instead of teaching them (although I’m not doing either right now), and I remember thinking at the time that it was such a brilliantly positive term for such a nasty phenomenon (also applicable for global warming and certain viral outbreaks).

If you’ve never had the pleasure of a solid bout of insomnia, it can go something like this:

  1. You know that you have to get up in decent time the next morning, so you try to go to bed before midnight.
  2. But you can’t get to sleep right away, so you start to worry about how little sleep you’ll ultimately get.
  3. You then worry that this will be one of those nights where you don’t get to sleep at all, a full-blown insomnia night, and that freaks you out.
  4. “What if I can never get to sleep again?” you ask yourself, staring at the digital clock by your bed.  The numbers slowly crawl into the wee hours of the night.
  5. You get up and wander downstairs.  Everything on television features the late Billy Mays.
  6. You check Facebook.  It tells you that no one is available to chat.  There are no updates.  It snickers at you.
  7. You’re starting to get hungry, so you have bowl of cereal, an act that seems to signal to your body that it is, in fact, morning.  You fight the urge to shower and shave because it’s still only 4:15.
  8. Thinking that you can still be productive, you attempt to do some writing.  But your state of quasi-consciousness leads you to make a number of series continuity errors.  On reflection the next day, you wonder why you thought it a good idea for your character to acquire a talking wallaby in the third act.
  9. You watch the sun rise.
  10. By 10:00 AM you have achieved a state of zombie-like undeath.  Any hope of doing anything useful over the course of the day is shot through by an unnerving desire to mutter “Brains…” over and over again.