To mix aphorisms, in a sense we all sleep alone. Other than the external signifiers of contented or calamitous rest — be it a slack, drool-slick face, or the anguished grinding of teeth and karate-kicking — when we slip into unconsciousness we do so on the solo. And quite frankly, save for scientists and your mother, no one gives a shit about anyone else's sleep last night, or the lack thereof. Least of all the pitable, forlorn insomniac.
Like those in long-term substance-abuse recovery, they are the ones who when asked don't even bother burdening others with their lot, and instead offer a forced smile and suffer in silence alone. To these people, who spend their days researching remedies and conjuring new sleep cures, there is at least one source of solace: the shared misery of others, served up 24/7 via the firehose that is the internet. There are multiple forums, feeds and other corners of the web where the sleep-starved share stories and tips of being unable to catch a wink. We trolled the feeds and found some of the best online sources for swapping stories of abject sleeplessness, getting tips on how to cope and even discussions of "miracle cures" for the true-believers. Catch-22: One of the top insomnia tips is to stay away from electronic screens during sleep hours, so hit these up in the light of day.
As with most topics of discussion you could ever hope to dream up, Reddit is the gold standard of public laundry-airing and bitching met with often earnest, generous, occasionally astounding and often funny responses. Unlike single-topic message boards, Reddit, being the front page of the internet and all, always has a lot of traffic and so responses are often quick and voluminous. If you ever want to feel better about your condition, hit up the insomnia forum. It's a welcome place where insomniacs convene to talk about their shared affliction. Rest assured you'll always hear a joke, bizarre story, or just the tale of someone worse off to make you forget your woes.
The decade-plus old social support network for virtually any ailment has an active forum for discussions, advice, and just plain old company, which for insomniacs whiling away the midnight hours goes a long way. The discussions range widely, from questions about therapies, to prompts for stories, to cries for help, but it remains active and has a long easy to search archive to kill hours with.
While the ASA is a for-profit charity, which raises a few hackles in terms of their interests, the user-contributed forums are free and well-populated with most posts garnering hundreds if not thousands of views and often substantial volume of responses, especially compared with other sites. That said, compared with r/Insomnia it's slower paced, and therefore a better resource for collecting experiences and recommendations than getting instant feedback.
Founded by a chronic insomniac who happens to market a (free) sleep training program, Insomnialand sounds like a scam but it has an active forum of co-sufferers, most of whom seemingly have tried the system. The general discussion area is free, but to comment or get specific insomnia advice has a one-time $10 fee for registration. We're typically wary of such arrangements that might potentially seem to prey on the vulnerable, but Insomnialand's blog is updated frequently and free, as is the sleep training program so it's worth visiting even if you don't commit.
A frequent recommendation among insomnia sufferers is to try meditation, and in particular calm.com comes up a lot as a go-to source to quiet the mind and potentially get a little relaxation, if not shut-eye (there are a bunch subscription meditation services; headspace is another popular option). Hit the site and you can choose a soothing full-window background video that repeats, along with sounds: running water, meadow sounds and so on. For some that may be enough to give your mind a break, but the site also offers meditation programs including a free 7-day intro course. It's not a shoulder to cry on or an ear to chew, but meditation is among the best ways to find a respite from the agony of being awake, if not a cure.
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