An insomniac’s worst nightmare

tree stump removalI’ve been an insomniac since as far back as I can remember. No matter what I try, sleep evades me. I’ve tried pharmaceutical drugs, exercise, yogic breathing – nothing seems to help. I’ve even tried counting sheep backwards but a good night’s rest remains inaccessible to me. The main thing that prevents me from sleeping is that I’m sensitive to sounds: TV in the next room, birds chirping in the evening, even cars passing on the road outside. Little did I know that the next thing to ruin my sleep would be a tree stump removal. Melbourne is a busy place full of sounds.

Last week I was having the worst bout of insomnia I’ve had in a long time. I’d barely slept a handful of hours in several days. I was wired. I’d tried to sleep several times and spent hours tossing around in bed, eventually giving up and getting out to do something. When it got to 7am on the third day I was desperate. I’d have tried anything to get some shut eye. I scoured the internet for a technique I had not yet tried. That’s when I came across ASMR.

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It’s that tingling sensation you get when you’re very relaxed and listening to soothing sounds. There are tonnes of videos on the internet of people talking in a slow low voice and others of people unwrapping parcels. People listen to these recordings on their headphones for relaxation and to help with sleep, many swearing by the relaxation method.

I finally got into bed with my headphones, ready to get some rest. The soothing voice came through the earpiece and I felt a pleasurable chill across my scalp. Then, my relaxation was interrupted by a roar from outside. There was a company outside doing stump grinding. Melbourne is a pretty tightly knit city so although the tree stump removal was at  a neighbour’s house the noise sounded very close by. The noise of the tree removal was too overpowering for the gentle recordings and I had to give up.

As you can imagine, I was devastated. I’ll definitely give ASMR another try but it’ll have to be at a better time of day when the neighbours aren’t doing tree felling.