If you sometimes find yourself dealing with insomnia, you’re not alone. People have been struggling with insomnia for a long time, especially in this day in age, with so much stress and pressure to be “productive”. Artists, in particular, have a long history of using art as a way to cope with sleepless nights, and many have created their most famous works while enduring insomnia.
And this is our secret weapon. We artists are lucky to have art by our side. And we should take advantage of that every chance we get. Even when we can’t sleep.
These are some tips that might help mitigate insomnia, and maybe make some good art in the process.
Have a sketchbook on your nightstand
If you lay awake for some time and realize you just can’t fall asleep, having a sketchbook and a pen on your nightstand is a great way to set your mind off whatever you’re ruminating about. Even if you can’t turn those thoughts off, you can draw about them. There’s some sort of exorcising power in placing worrying thoughts in the material world, and you can use art as a way to do it.
If you can’t turn on the light, draw in the dark
If you don’t sleep alone, you might not want to turn on the light to avoid waking your significant other up. In that case, you can still try something interesting: draw in the dark. Don’t try to see in the dark. Close your eyes and visualize in your mind’s eye what you’re drawing. You’ll find out in the morning that what you imagined doesn’t match what you drew at all. But it doesn’t matter at all if it helped you find your way back to Morpheus. You can even use the results to make some art during the day. You can always find something in a scribble and its really fun. Here you have a playlist of art made that way.
If you’re awake in bed for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed
If nothing is helping and you’re still awake after 15-20 minutes, get out of bed. It’s better to do something to soothe your mind than laying in bed tossing and turning and obsessing over the fact that you can’t sleep. It might not seem so, but it will take you less time focusing on something else.
If you’re up and go to another room and don’t want to make art about what you’re going through, coloring books can be a great calming experience. If you never tried it before, this might be a good opportunity.
Let go of the fact that you can’t sleep. Don’t try to be aware of it. Don’t look at the time. Forgetting about it will actually make you tired enough again faster than fighting against your insomnia. Focus on the art and it will gently get you back to bed.
I hope this helps you ease some of those hard sleepless times.
This is by no means medical advice. If your struggle with sleep gets serious, please go see your doctor.
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina.