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ZYTARUK: Sleep well, friends. Because insomnia bites

There are no less than 85 known sleep disorders out there

So let it be written…


Ever had insomnia?

Odysseus did. Drove his boat around the monster-teeming seas of ancient Greek mythology by himself for nine days before Hypnos, the god of sleep, tucked him in, resulting in all kinds of calamitous adventures for the captain and crew when he woke up.

Al Pacino, or at least his detective character Will Dormer, was plagued by sleeplessness big-time in the 2002 thriller Insomnia. Ralph Roberts also gets a mighty dose of wide-eye in Stephen King’s novel, “Insomnia,” which has no connection to the Pacino movie, except both deal with the same crappy condition.

Counting sheep. Sandman. Relaxation vids. Meditation. Medication. Frustration. Desperation. Sleeplessness can creep up on anyone, and when it does, ay yi yi, what a perfect hell it is. Heck, sleep deprivation is a tried-and-true reliable method of torture, right up there with solitary confinement, white noise and water boarding.

I’ve recently danced with the devil in the pale moonlight, as the Joker would say. Tossing to and fro, checking the clock every 17 minutes or whatever. Thankfully, I’m finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, figuratively speaking. Not the dawn, but sweet unconsciousness.

I can now chuckle a bit at what was until recently no laughing matter for me.

When I was a younger man, I was covering a murder trial, I think it was, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. It was in a long courtroom, with much fancy wood carving.

They pump warm air into these places. The rain was hammering down on the roof. The judge, clerk and lawyers were way up front there, dressed in their equally fancy robes. Arguments were being made.

After a while, the voices started to sound something like the teacher’s voice, mwa, mwa, mwa, in Charlie Brown. Eventually a sheriff woke me up with a discreet tap on my shoulder and politely suggested that I go splash some cold water on my face.

How embarrassing.

A few years later, our twin sons were born. One baby would spring up awake the very moment his brother fell asleep, and they’d toggle back and forth like this, 24/7, for many months on end. It put us in a different realm, my wife and I — You get up, No you get up. We were pretty much in commune with the spirit world, for lack of sleep, and it fep





;               =

Oops, sorry. Guess I nodded off there. All this talk about being tired...

Anyway,  it was brutal.

Then, when our sons were in elementary school, I was a parent volunteer on their class field trip to the planetarium in Vancouver. The big mechanical projector, Harold, was showing the kids the marvels of the night sky when, as my horrified sons in either seat beside me later told me, I was bending some serious light myself. Snore-howling, I think they called it. A real show-stopper. All eyes on me. Again, how embarrassing.

The moral of the story is, make sure you get your sleep. Try not to worry about things you can’t control, and try to avoid bad sleeping habits.

Some people, of course, are unable to deboard from the sleep-deprivation train for reasons that aren’t at all funny. The Now’s neighbour, Sleep Tech, primarily helps people deal with sleep apnea, and its president Russ Priestley tells me they see up to 100 patients each week at their three clinics.

He says there are no less than 85 known sleep disorders out there and lack of sleep can not only be extremely hard on your body but it can also lead to all kinds of crazy things happening in your daily life.

If you have insomnia, try having a hot bath before going to bed, avoid your television and computer, and turn your alarm clock away so you can’t see the time…that’s a biggie.

Good luck, and sweet dreams.


So let it be done.


Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. You can reach Tom via email at