Richard Levitt: The New 4 am

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 (Courtesy of Richard Levitt)

In these psychologically challenging times, the overnight hours can be the toughest, with formerly sound sleepers like Richard Levitt among the ranks of the new insomniacs.

I used to love 4 a.m. Now I hate it.

Pre-COVID, 4 a.m. was like my spring board, my launch pad. I’d hop into bed by 10 and be up at 4, ready to go.

And since my days were both intensely thinky and extremely physical, bedtime was a delight. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I slept soundly and woke up easily.

That, of course, was pre-COVID.


Now I wake up at 4 a.m. because I’m sleepless. It’s no longer the optimistic, assertive, productive time of day it once was. It’s agonizing, disappointing. It’s dark, cold, and lonely. I want to sleep. Just can’t.

Evidently, I’m not the only one. A recent story in The Washington Post said insomnia in both adults and children has risen as much as 30 percent. Physicians and researchers have even coined the term “coronasomnia.”

It said experts are deeply concerned about a massive new population of chronic insomniacs, and declines in productivity, short tempers, increased hypertension and depression.

Maybe it’s because we’re freaked out. Disoriented by the social disruption. Stressed. Maybe it’s an inescapable sense of dread.

For me, well, I was just really happy … and now … not so much.

Sometimes I get into bed just because I can’t stand the idea of finding another diversion. What was once entertaining seems dull. Food doesn’t taste as good. Conversation gets exasperating.

It’s not like I’m tired … just fatigued. Just … over it.

COVID has stolen something precious from me. Not just the company of my friends and family. Not just connection with colleagues. Not just my routine. Or sound sleep.

It’s stolen the me I like best.

I suppose the good news in that same article is that being in nature, and separating yourself from stuff like news and social media all helps.

Well my sleeping bag is stuffed, my tent and camp stove are packed. I’m out of here.

With a Perspective, I’m Richard Levitt.

Richard Levitt is an East Bay writer who teaches martial arts, yoga and creative problem solving.