An Ask E. Jean Classic
Dear E. Jean:
I’m an insomniac. I stay up all night trying to fall asleep. Sometimes, I can’t get to sleep until like NOON the next day. Not being able to sleep makes me hungry, and I eat junk food to try to calm myself down and scroll through Instagram and Twitter to try and tire myself out—(it never tires me out). I’m also on Depo-Provera birth control shots. The doctor told me they may have “a few” side-effects, so could this be the problem? In addition, I'm a writer, and I can work my own schedule, but I worry about my career and the new Covid variants. I get very anxious and paranoid at night when I can’t sleep—which is WHY I can’t go to sleep! I’m afraid of turning out the light. So I binge Netflix. I’m afraid of somebody stabbing me to death while I sleep in bed.
Please, E. Jean! I need your help! What’s wrong with me? I don’t know what to do. Sometimes, I think I have a great life, a wonderful sex life, everything. Other times, I get angry at any little thing and usually take it out on anybody who gets in my way. But usually I’m just myself—hyper-energetic, sociable, friendly, out-going, etc., etc. Please help. —Sleepless in Santa Monica
Sleepless, My Saute Pan:
Aw, Hell! Stay up!
You’re a nightingale, woman! Not a lark. You’re awake when the stars come out, and zonked when the sun comes up. Add pandemic stress to your night-owl genome—your chronotype is probably different than a morning person’s, and the solution is this: Write at night.
Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times offers absolutely the best advice about falling asleep—not eating crap, taking some daily sun, writing down a list of your worries and throwing it away when you climb into bed, exercising, rising at the same time, killing the caffeine eight hours before bedtime, and going here to find a sleep doctor.
But did Mr. O’Connor, brilliant as he is, mention plucking your banjo till you are exhausted? No. Why not? I submit that, like all of us, even Mr. O’Connor is suffering from lack of sleep. And so what are the real causes of insomnia?
As a service to all the Sleepless in America, here is a list of the TRUE reasons you can’t sleep, along with solutions that have worked for me.
Nightmares In Red
Cause of Insomnia: Amy Coney Barrett
What She Did:
How to Sleep Despite Amy Coney Barrett:
1. You’re worried about people stabbing you, Ms. Sleepless? OF COURSE you are! In darkest night, Amy Coney Barrett and her best buds—Brett, Neil, Clarence and Sam—crept in and killed your right to make decisions about your own body.
You know how I’ve been handling these idiots since 2019? I have provided myself with a handsome three-pound sledge hammer and keep it under my pillow. Try it. You’ll stop worrying about people stabbing you. P.S. I also have a loaded gun next to my bed.
2. I have removed all clocks from my bedroom. I suggest you do the same. The less we know how late it is, the happier we will be. If Handmaid Amy believes it is 1860, this is between her and her overlords.
3. Speaking of which, when I am in my bedroom, I never look at my phone. If you ever want to sleep again, neither should you.
Cause of Insomnia : The Senate GOP
A bunch of photos were left on the cutting room floor because, Shrewd Reader, I want you to be able to read this newsletter without having to look at Ted Cruz.
What The Bastards Did:
Blocked the Voting Rights Bill, which means that if the Democrats lose the US House and Senate in 2022, we will all be living in a fun-filled theocracy.
How to Sleep Despite GOP Senate Skullduggery:
1. In a topsy-turvy world, sometimes having your feet higher than your head is exactly the right position for falling asleep. I bought an adjustable bed like this on Amazon for $650. Works for me.
2. Hunter Thompson wrote at night and went to bed at 8 or 8:30 am. His bedroom was chockfull of guns—guns in the corner, guns on the floor in boxes, guns in cases, guns thronged all about the bed. There were also a number of giant electric fans with whirring blades like airplane propellers, every one of which Hunter would run on “high” because the horrendous wind sent him off to sleep like a mother’s heartbeat. I remember seeing Hunter holding up the skirts of his bathrobe, heading to his closet, trembling all over and sweating, staggering as close as he could to the walls so as to not take himself off at the knees. You can use, instead, a white noise machine.
3. Drink a big glass of water before getting into bed. Good for your complexion, calming to the mind. (And all those geezers in the photo above? They have to wake up three times a night and crawl to the john just to empty all the toxins from their bodies.)
4. Try a sleep mask and earplugs. This is a recommendation from the man who condescends to edit this newsletter. And if you want to live a happy life, keep the sleep mask on and the ear plugs in until the GOP is whipped in 2022.
5. 100 mg of magnesium twice a day, afternoon and night, and before bed, a bowl of oatmeal or pumpkin seeds or a bunch of bananas—four of the buggers knock me out! All famous sleep-inducers.
6. Change your birth control, woman! Depo-Provera is excellent for many, many women; but well-known for causing nervousness.It may also lead to bone loss and other problems. And stock up on your new birth control before 2022. If the GOP wins both the House and Senate, you will be unable to obtain birth control, an abortion, or even a decent lay.
Cause of Insomnia: Donald J. Trump
What He’s Doing:
It Looks Very Likely That He’ll Run for President in 2024. (The only kind of running he can do.)
How To Sleep Despite Donald Trump:
1. I’m not sure that even floating on your adjustable bed with your bowl of oatmeal, a good book, with your ears plugged, your brain tamed with magnesium, and a nice little hammer tucked under your pillow will combat the horrors of Mr. Stop the Steal, but give it a try, Ms. Sleepless.
2.But I guarantee that you will sleep when you spend one afternoon a week volunteering with The Voting Rights Alliance to protect voting rights in America, and to ensure our votes are fairly counted, cuz with a fair election, that serial fabulist will lose again!
But ya know who always wins? The Conflab!
The Conflab is where we hash over the questions sent to Ask E. Jean—and where our boisterous community regularly rescues mankind. Today we’re solving the problem of Ms. Sleepless, a lively, “sociable, friendly, out-going,” insomniatic writer, who “stays up all night trying to fall asleep.”
She says her lack of sleep causes her to feel “very anxious and paranoid at night,” when she can’t sleep, so she ends up eating crap, binging Netflix, and is afraid to turn out the lights because she imagines somebody will “stab her to death.”
I, naturally, think Ms. Sleepless should stay up all night and write, because she’s no doubt a nightingale, not a lark. But that is just the advice of an illiterate crone who requires nine-and-a-half hours of catatonia every night.
Conflabbians! We’ve all had visa problems entering the Land of Nod. We’ve all had bouts of near-hysteria when we can’t get to sleep. We’ve all felt the midnight fantods. We’ve all got tips for Ms. Sleepless. But we have something more. We have one another to get us through the mean and hideous nights. We also have Mary Trump’s book, which explains the excruciating traumas the nation is living through; and we have Joyce Vance White’s latest piece on the Texas Abortion Law. Joyce says: “What you need to know about what SCOTUS did in Texas: ‘Roe is still good law. But also, Roe is essentially dead.’”
And Ms. Sleepless wonders why she can’t drift off?
So how do you drop off? Do you drink a glass of wine before bed? Smoke a joint? Trim your poodle? Phone on? Off? Light on? Off? Room Cold? Hot? Window up? Down? A sweaty dose of Bouncy-Bouncy? Hot Milk? Whiskey? My neighbor, Eileen, has suggested that I stretch just before getting in bed, and—BOY!—does it help!
Can’t wait to read your tips, gimmicks, instructions, and recommendations, and neither can Ms. Sleepless!
Ask E. Jean’s Pet of the Day
”After a hot and smoky day in Seattle,” writes Laura Levy, “I feel the need to send you a photo of my baby cat, little Mr. Harrison Ford. I adopted him last year out of a litter of kittens I fostered. His mama was a teen mom, and his daddy is a giant feral beast, but Harrison is just the sweetest boy in the world. He is always smiling, I don’t think he even knows how to hiss.”
What in Blazing Hell Is this Thing?
Was this email forwarded to you and you are now wondering what the heck it is? “Ask E. Jean” has been solving snafus since 1993. Now the Conflab is pitching in and we’re the top-ranked Health Substack in the United States. Click here.
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P.S. I don’t know a single thing about finances. But I love your pet photos!
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Photos of Sleeping Woman, Kharchenko_Irina7, Getty Images; photo of Amy Coney Barrett, Tasos Katopotis, Getty Images; photo of GOP Senators, Raw Story and Public Domain; photo of Donald Trump, James Devaney, Getty Images; photo of Joshua Matz, E. Jean, and Robbie Kaplan walking into Federal Court: Jefferson Siegle for The New York Times.