This would be a terrible thing to say about most books but, in this case, it might actually be a compliment: I kept falling asleep reading Marina Benjamin's Insomnia.
I wasn't so much bored as somehow soothed by her velvety ruminations on night wakefulness, which run on, unbroken by chapters, with lots of airy white space between paragraphs. Awash in the comfort of a kindred soul, I relaxed enough to be lulled into sleep. Did her Insomnia cure mine?
Think how many hours are lost to night frets, which Benjamin ties to a "turbocharged ... overactive brain" and I liken to a washing machine's spin cycle. I know that my insomnia has increased since the 2016 election, and I don't think I'm alone.
Benjamin's Insomnia follows Middlepause, her memoir about reaching 50, and indeed, insomnia often follows menopause, almost as reliably as winter follows fall. Her eloquent description of the inconsolability and frustration of finding oneself irremediably awake during the witching hours, "cannibalized by your own gnawing thoughts," will certainly strike a familiar chord for many. She nails the "shotgun awakenings," the sense of being "jet-lagged in your native time zone," and the exasperation of being stuck chewing over all the day's insignificant "crud," "like waterboarding the mind with meaningless overflow, a smothering drip, drip, drip of surplus thought."
Even worse are the nocturnal worries: "In my bed, I flap and thrash like a grouper caught in the net, victim to an escalating anxiety," she writes. "It is as if all the lights in my head had been lit at once, the whole engine coming to life, messages flying, dendrites flowering, synapses whipping snaps of electricity across my brain; and the brain itself, like some phosphorescent free-floating jellyfish of the deep, is luminescent, awake, alive." She adds that, unable to find the off-button, "I pursue sleep so hard I become invigorated by the chase."