A woman at night sits on her bed eating cereal and reading a book in her lap

Useless Things I Do in the Middle of the Night

If I sleep just 3 hours in the night, it would be logical to think I have 21 hours in the day to be productive. I have not found this to be true. In fact, the less sleep I get, the less productive I am. Fatigue will do that to you.

“Do you know that awesome feeling when you get into bed, fall right to sleep, stay asleep all night and wake feeling refreshed? Me neither.”
-source unknown

There have been times when my insomnia was so bad I became manic for weeks and weeks on end – then my productivity really blossomed.

I managed to write my book, do editing work, finish all the housework, walk for hours each day, cook everything from scratch, do a gym class at night, and socialise with ease. But mania tends not to last. And it wasn’t very good for my mental health.

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Coping mechanisms

Now I sleep okay most of the time – thanks to the miracle of modern medicine – but when insomnia strikes, I don’t cope with exhaustion the way I used to. I waste time then feel guilty for being non-productive.

One of the most useless things I do in the middle of the night is eat. And when I haven’t slept well, this fatigue eating goes on most of the day. It isn’t kind to my waistline. And the double whammy is that exhaustion decreases the chance I’ll clean my house, go for a walk or attend gym sessions.

I combine a sedentary lifestyle with overeating. To be perfectly honest, it’s very easy for that way of life to become a habit and I need to be diligent in observing ongoing change.

Too exhausted to concentrate

Sometimes I read in the middle of the night. It kind of feels like a productive thing to do – even though I (unfortunately) do not make a living by reading books. But I also find my concentration is pretty much shot after 10 PM. Just because I can’t sleep doesn’t mean I’m energised.

Most of the time these days, I’m just exhausted and reading requires cognitive functioning. I find this true for television as well. Scrolling through binge-worthy Netflix blockbusters might not seem like a mental challenge but following a storyline can require more cognition than I have in the middle of the night.

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Mindless swiping

Now useless, mind-numbing iPhone games are a completely different story. My weighted eyelids and heavy heart cope quite nicely with the useless hours spent harvesting wheat and feeding chickens on a small pixelated screen.

It’s almost like I’m asleep while I’m awake. Absolutely no thought processes are required whatsoever to swipe away on my virtual farm.

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Comfort in knowing I'm not alone

But I would say the single most useless thing I do in the middle of the night is search for quotes on insomnia.

“Do not believe all the things you tell yourself late at night.”
-source unknown

Oh, they are entertaining. I have to give Pinterest a lot of credit for cheering me up no end in the wee hours of the morning.


And there is a certain amount of comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Whoever claimed that misery enjoys company hit the proverbial nail on its exhausted head. I don’t wish for anyone else to feel as tired as I do but feeling understood by those with lived experience creates a sense of being less alone.

“Insomnia is a kind of torture, because while the world is fast asleep you’re up all alone – your mind buzzing with every random thought in the universe, and sometimes the thought will reach a standstill, and your mind goes blank. You become more aware of the silence and it is during this moment that you realise how alone you are.”
-source unknown

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