Tag: insomnia

The theory that only brainy people can’t sleep…

…isĀ  clearly a load of rubbish. That’s my weird thought of last night, at about 11.30pm.

I’m married to someone who is really brainy. He’s super brainy. His brains are off the scale. He has never had a B in his life. He has A Level maths, further maths, pure maths, super pure maths and even more difficult maths, oh and physics. He has a law degree and even though that was 20 years ago, he still churns law stuff on request. He is able to learn things after reading about them once. He rarely gets lost. He is very able to put forward a very well-thought through argument and come out the winner and he knows a lot about computer code. He is Clever. He is Very Clever.

Yet, contradicting what the Internet might predict, he is often asleep before he has pulled the covers up to his chin. He can sleep anywhere and in any position. He sleeps soundly and solidly. At 11pm he’s gone, at 5am he’s back. As far as I am aware, he has never been kept awake by intrusive thoughts such as those which I get: why are we here? Why did so-and-so say such-and-such to me today? What shall I do next? Does this person like me? Did I say the right thing to that person? Why can’t we see colour in the dark? What is colour? What is red? Why do people want to vote leave? Oh no, I forgot to do that Important Thing today. What shall I wear tomorrow? Why do I watch Big Brother? What is Big Brother really about? What can I draw next? These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night.

My night-time thoughts resemble this painting by a friend of mine from Wolverhampton:

My brain at 11pm

My brain at 11pm

Can you see now why I struggle to fall asleep?

My husband’s thoughts at night resemble this painting by Kazimir Malevich:

I wish these were my thoughts at 11pm

I wish these were my thoughts at 11pm

According to the Internet, I must be more brainy than him. But that simply isn’t true. I know what a C is (GCSE English Literature and English Language). I also know what a D is (A Level General Studies). I couldn’t pass a GCSE in further pure applied maths never mind an A Level. I scraped a 2.1 in Economics and Politics and I spent most of my three years in Exeter in the library (I think I got 60.5% so just over the line). I get lost All The Time. I lose the car All The Time. I sometimes lose the carpark.

At least if I could explain my insomnia with intelligence I’d feel better about it and I’d just live with it. Sadly, I think it is just that I don’t have the skills necessary to shut down at night. My off switch is faulty.

My off switch is faulty

My off switch is faulty

People who think a lot sleep badly

This is a weird thought I had at 5am this morning when I couldn’t get back to sleep. I found myself early this morning lying in bed engaged in, rather than sleeping soundly, thinking, thinking, and more thinking. I thought about work, art, artists, philosophy, food, coffee, chocolate, my children, my week to come, parents’ evening (what I was going to attend this evening), Zumba (another activity of today), the cat, science, religion and the sea.

The most chilled cat in Shrewsbury - she doesn't think much

The most chilled cat in Shrewsbury – she doesn’t think much

After an hour of constant thinking I gave up and made myself a coffee and an egg buttie so I could think and eat at the same time, and read my book (a book about philosophy).

I’ve been plagued sporadically with insomnia all my life. Even as a child and a teenager I can remember lying in bed thinking and not sleeping. Luckily, I am generally only plagued by sleeplessness about once a month, but when the plague hits me, it hits me hard.

Is he just thinking too much?

Is he just thinking too much?

So my weird thought is: do people who think a lot sleep badly? Do we all spend the same amount of time thinking? Do I think as much as the man stood next to me in the Post Office queue, as David Cameron, as the milkman, as my eldest child? Is thinking a constant for everyone? I suspect not. I think people who think too much can’t sleep.

Interestingly, if you google ‘high IQ and insomnia’ you get some interesting results that claims that on average, people who suffer from insomnia may have a higher IQ. However, my theory is not based on intelligence. It is based on thinking. I don’t think you need to have a high IQ in order to be a thinker. I’m sure there are some very chilled people with a very high IQ who sleep like babies – I’m married to such a person. Equally, I think there are some very clever people who don’t bother their brain with thinking too much.

I've never known this person to suffer from insomnia

I’ve never known this person to suffer from insomnia

This article claims that night owls are likely to be more intelligent than morning larks. Poppy cock I reckon. But then I would say that, I’m a morning lark. This article thinks that ‘creative geniuses’ are plagued with sleep issues. Of course that must be true, I say.

However, whether sleeplessness is related to cognitive ability I couldn’t possibly say, but I do believe that those who suffer from excessive thinking are more likely to be lying awake at 2am.