Captain James T Kirk got it wrong you know.
He said that space was the final frontier, the place to “explore strange new worlds, seek out new life forms and new civilisations and to boldly go where no man has gone before” .
But it isn’t intergalactic space travel that you need to achieve all these goals, it is something far more humble – a solid night’s dream-laden sleep. No sci-fi writer in the world has yet managed to come up with story lines to match what your mind can produce when the imagination is set free during your sleeping hours.
You do indeed boldly go to places where you have never been and face scenarios you can never imagine.
It’s a mystical, magical world.
Sadly, however, for many people like me this dream world is often ruined by the appearance of a Klingon. And he’s called insomnia.
I have written about my occasional bursts of insomnia a couple of times in this blog/column over the years and it always produces letters or comments later because so many people suffer from this demoralising night time problem. A survey in America in 2002 said that as many as 58 per cent of adults in America experience symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week or more. That seems rather a high figure to me but anecdotally I know that a lot of people are just not getting as much sleep as they would like.
My insomnia – which I understand is called transient insomnia – is like a strange uncle who turns up unexpectedly at a do. He stays as long as he sees fit and then just goes. You don’t know why he decided to come but you suspect after he leaves that he will pop back again when you least expect it. He’s not your favourite uncle.
I’ve had a couple of bouts lately – the most recent on Tuesday night. I had no particular issues on my mind, no reasons to stop me going into dream land but not only did I not have 40 winks but I think I hardly had a single (tiddly) wink. People say that is impossible and you must sleep sometime but all I can say is that my digital clock and I became very well acquainted and if there were bursts of sleep, the clock must have stopped while I had them.
I tried all my usual methods to help me sleep – but to no avail. One I would heartily recommend to other sufferers which usually does the trick is to look at the time and if it is, say 11.15pm, then remember what you were doing at every quarter past the hour throughout the day. Normally I am asleep before I get to lunchtime. On Tuesday though even this fail-safe system, err, failed.
The problem with insomnia is that even as and when you get through the night you then carry it over to the following day. On Wednesday morning, as I write this, I still feel alert and ready for action (ish) but I won’t get home tonight until about 11pm because I’m chairing an election debate at St Martin’s Church. To anyone who was there can I, therefore, just say that if I did fall asleep, it was nothing to do with the politicians. Honest.
So to all those who are reading this who are fellow sufferers, you have my total sympathy. I just hope that tonight you can boldly go into your lovely dreamland and leave the Klingon well behind.