Since I have insomniac tendencies, it really varies. In recent years though, it has been writing, reading books, blogging and reading around the internet. I’ve read somewhere that exposing your eyes to light and movement before you go to bed means that your brain doesn’t switch off and therefore you get insomnia. I guess being on the computer before you go to bed isn’t such a great idea, but I do it regularly. No wonder I have chronic insomnia!
I know that when you’re a writer, you don’t necessarily keep regular hours – if its easier for you to write during the night, then theres nothing you can do about that but you will have to adjust your daytime schedule. I find it much easier to write at night because there are fewer distractions – the distractions usually come when you make them yourself (like watching TV, playing a game or watching a film). I’ve never been a daytime person – when I hit teenagedom I became a night owl. There’s something about the cover of darkness and the mystical feeling that comes when you see the moon and stars above you that bring out the best in me. I don’t hate daytime – I think its just that during the day I get so distracted by the day to day happenings in life, that I don’t feel like I can get much writing done.
Obviously there are those nights when you go to bed and lie awake worrying about things. I’ve been kept awake by worrying about money, stressing about a health issue or feeling restless. I’ve found that grief is tiring – when you’ve been crying about the loss of a loved one, you welcome the oblivion that sleep brings. When my uncle died, I cried for a while then just decided to go to sleep. The first few days after Quentin (my cat) died, I just wanted to go to sleep, but I woke up, remembered and it just hits you again. So I think grief is one of those conditions where sleep is a blessing.
There have been times when I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid of something. Fear of something unknown, really. When its dark and the wind outside is making the trees sway, casting spindly branch patterns across the ceiling, its easy to imagine fearful things. I don’t know if it keeps me awake, because I have a habit of trying to shut my eyes tight and ignore any fears I have. I did go through a period of having the light on when I was a kid (who doesn’t), but darkness doesn’t scare me so much now – in fact sometimes I welcome it because it makes me feel more alone with my thoughts, more at peace.