Insomnia sucks. Luckily I don’t suffer from it right now, but a friend is.
We talked recently and he told me how bad it really is: He has had severe insomnia for about 3 years. Sometimes he can’t sleep at all, on a good night he’ll lay in bed for 2 or 3 hours and get around 4 to 6 hours of sleep. I don’t even know how he’s still alive with how little sleep he’s been getting.
If something sucks this much, your whole life will end up revolving around it, and he’s admitted to having suicidal thoughts when being severely underslept.
I had told him about books like Why we Sleep,The Sleep Solution or The Power of Now – but yeah, it’s almost insulting to give these types of recommendations to someone who is struggling this much. He’s been going to therapy for a while, which he says doesn’t help. Sleeping pills, even the strong ones, don’t work reliably.
It’s obvious that his job is stressing him out. The insomnia goes away when he’s on vacation, for the most part. He works in a demanding field, his bosses are unfair to him (or so he says) and he worries about his upcoming meetings and deliverables every day. He changed jobs, but his insomnia didn’t improve.
I have a lot of compassion for his plight and try to help him wherever I can, but I also find it quite fascinating as to how powerful and crippling our minds can be. Here are some of my preliminary thoughts and lessons learned that I wanted to share (I’m not claiming that these are 100% correct):
- The psychological stresses that a high number of white collar “knowledge workers” experience shouldn’t be trivialised. Unfulfilling, repetitive work where you mustn’t make mistakes, being scrutinized all the time, sitting all day, bullying colleagues and bosses, a lack of meaning and purpose and all that stuff can be really soul-crushing
- Intellectualizing doesn’t help much: He keeps on looking for reasons why he can’t sleep. That only makes it worse. It’s easy for an outsider to recognize that he’s a prisoner to that overthinking, time-travelling brain, but not for him
- Our thoughts are incredibly powerful: I don’t really believe in the “whatever you think about will become your reality” thing in the sense of becoming a millionaire-happy-person, but for becoming depressed, this strategy works really well, unfortunately: Overthink and worry about your inadequacies and fears and failures all the time and you’ll live in hell, that’s pretty much guaranteed
- His insomnia goes hand in hand with his general pessimism, neuroticism and feelings of regret (he talks about his struggles in dating quite a bit, how he shouldn’t have left his college girlfriend and so on…)
- Being smart doesn’t help, it probably makes it worse (he’s really smart, he has a Physics degree of one of the countries’ top schools and develops machine learning algorithms)
- Genetics matter, unfortunately: His older brother still lives at home at 40 and is very antisocial. His sister is highly neurotic, too. He always thought he was the “normal one” in the family – oh well…
- I recommended he try some intense physical workout and breathing exercises to “get into his body”. But this possibly won’t be enough. Some of you might dislike this, but I told him he should try antidepressants (which he has been reluctant to take). And a magic mushroom trip under supervision could be a possibility to escape his mental prison, but he’ll likely be too scared to try it
We humans are strange creatures, and this world we built might be even stranger… I hope he’ll make it through.
😴 What might help you find calm
Intentional ASMR Picks:
Let’s start with FemaleASMR showing her tattoos – I enjoyed her German accent, the nice tattoos and the gentle glove sounds
- Maybe it’s a bit low-effort, but Beaux ASMR’s negative energy plucking video and the mouth sounds she made were surprisingly relaxing!
- If you want something different, here’s a nice (no talking) ASMR Shoeshine by Angel Shoeshine
- Madi ASMR’s Brain Tingling Massage is simple but effective – her voice, the gloves and the squishy massage sounds work well together
- I didn’t know that Goodnight Moon’s boyfriend is ASMR Marno .. but it makes so much sense, what a cute couple! They did a wholesome video together here (Marno being the “prop”)
💎 Hidden Gem: Sarah Lavender started about 8 months ago, she’s doing a great job! I like ther medical exams best, like this one.
Unintentional ASMR Picks:
- Great Depression Cooking: Clara (rest in peace) is the star of this show, a close to 100-year old women who will show you simple, affordable recipes and tell stories from the Great Depression era
- Soba Master Tatsuru Rai demonstrating his craft (I love the pasta cutting sounds)
- Aden films has beautiful videos of high-end Japanese cuisine (e.g. this personal chef making sizzling Kobe beef)
- Korean cooking channels like Cooking Tree, Tasty Travel or HANSE (they’re visually beautiful too)
💜 What I’ve enjoyed
I played a really chill game called Townscaper (here’s a video on me building my first little island-city, with ASMR commentary:)