How To Sleep While Starting a Business
Don’t you just love “How To” titles? As if I’m about to tell you everything you could possibly want to know about this topic. Table of contents, citations, bam. Everything. Well, since I only know everything about MY sleeping habits, it will not be that. Yet since I don’t believe I’m a perfectly unique snowflake in this universe, I’ll share my experience knowing there’s others out there who suffer similarly or worse.
Every time I try to sleep these days, I get a circus merry-go-round whizzing around in my head.
My mind starts throwing every email I read, every email I need to write, every new person I met, every new design change, schedule deadline, and frustrating conversation at me in endless circles until I start to feel dizzy. It’s impossible to fall asleep.
Even if I do manage to get to sleep, the anxiety comes out in a constant grinding of my teeth and tightening of my muscles until my dreams are filled with the sensation of being two stones rubbing against each other.
And sleeping pills don’t help. Okay, I haven’t tried the really strong ones, but those are iffy. You know, the whole thing about their being addictive. I’ve never liked being dependent on anything other than fresh air and exercise. But using melatonin (a supposedly non-addictive, herb-based supplement) is only good for falling asleep. And when the anxiety kicks in later that night…
These problems aren’t new for me. In fact, they’re better than they used to be. I’ve always internalized my stress, which isn’t unusual. But for some reason, it seems like others can do it without suffering many consequences besides the ocassional need to go out and get raging drunk, but my stress has always manifested psychosomatically. So not only are there the common symptoms of perspiring more, higher heart rate, etc, but I also get terrible stomach pains, heartburn, anxiety attacks, and more. Physically, it sometimes feels as if there’s a lit match in my stomach or someone’s compressing all my insides.
I wish I got a diamond out of it. Seriously.
So when it comes time to actually get some sleep, I look at modern technology and want to yell “come on, gimme a quick fix for my problem, dammit!” After all, we’re in the future already, aren’t we? So shouldn’t there be some non-addictive fix for all my problems so I can shunt my emotional life aside and not let it get in the way of my productivity??
You’ve totally thought that before. Don’t lie to yourself.
But then, in the midst of my sleepless crisis, I remember something I used to use in college. It’s called 9 Beets. An artist took Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and stretched it to 24 hours without pitch distortion, and there’s a site that streams it constantly (just click their link and select ‘open’, not ‘save’). At first, it’s unpleasant to listen to. It’s strange, a bit unnerving even. And as you start it, it feels like trying to stop a rolling car by sticking your foot out the door and dragging your sneaker on the asphalt. Yet if you stick with it and sit in a dark room with some tea and headphones, it brings all the merry-go-rounding to a stumbling, crashing fall. It stretches and relaxes your sense of time, shows you what foolishness it is to be constantly living on a techno beat.
And then… finally… sleep comes.
Sometimes it’s hard to accept the fact that we’re human. It’s easy to feel like western culture is shaving away at what makes us “only human” to the point where we look down on those who live with acknowledged limits. “Oh, you can’t hold down two jobs while starting your own business? Please.” “Why would you want a relationship that requires emotional attachment? Just hook up and move on.” “Why don’t you know how to design, animate, manage, and program too? We won’t hire you unless you do.”
And yet at the same time, we’re moving away from that. Offices are improving their quality of work-life, working from home is no longer anathema, and there’s been growing awareness of the long-term effects of working too hard without the play and relaxation.
But it’s hard to accept that in yourself, especially when you’re trying to get a business off the runway (and you’ve never flown a plane before).
But if you don’t accept it, you’ll crash. So I think I’ll be listening to 9 Beets more regularly from now on.