• Jennifer Barnick

On Trying to Leave Zombieland


In preparation for selecting my picks for Twenty-two Twenty-eight’s Book Pharmacy I read Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. And, there was another reason…. I have had troubles with sleep ever since I was a child, and as I have said before: I am not just Twenty-two Twenty-eight’s president.... I am also its client.

For as long as I could remember I have been very uneasy with nighttime and sleep. I was and still am extremely afraid of the dark. I still have to have the closet door in the bedroom open with the light on, and I still have to have the house dotted with lit lamps so if I do need to go downstairs or to my office I will not have to endure a solid passage of darkness. I will start to fall asleep but then at the appearance of total blackness, as with the case of first falling to sleep, I will then immediately open my eyes and sit up. What is for most a moment of total peace is for me a kind of falling into a pit sensation.

I was horrible to live with because of this: from my childhood through my teens I would sleep on the floor on my mother’s side of the bed as I was too scared to sleep in my room alone at the end of the hall. Even today I wake up my poor husband and make him walk around the entire house with a tennis racket until he has thoroughly convinced me that no one has broken in. If it was not closet monsters, aliens, or home invaders it was a racing mind. Especially now as an adult. As soon as it is quiet and dim and everyone in the house is asleep my mind then rises up and starts to party. My mind is like, “Great, finally, the day stuff is over…now let’s get to thinking. Let’s work out our work day tomorrow. Let’s write an essay on whether or not it will ever be possible for a computer to have real emotions like Hal. Oh, and maybe try just thyme on your next pot roast.”

And then there is just the plain old insomnia which I have also had since I was a child. I would just lie in bed wide awake—with neither a racing mind nor any burglar worries. I know the texture of ceilings probably better than any texture on earth. Ceilings are surprisingly universal across the world—except for popcorn ceilings—those are terrible as they always seem like they are going to flake out into your eyes. People who put little glow in the dark stars on their guest room ceilings are saints.

This book is a compelling read if your big problem is being a workaholic and not making time to sleep because you think work is more important than your health, or if you think sleep is not too important for health. There were some parts that were super annoying, and if you should read it I would just totally skip her super horrible chapter on dreams.

I have never discounted the importance of sleep—mainly because it has been something that has been a struggle for me. Whatever it is that makes people sleepy is something that I do not have (or at least very little of it). That is—until the daytime. Then, of course, I am nodding off everywhere. Do you know how hard it is to read a very scary and very boring paper on affective computing when you are getting two to four hours of sleep? Or when after two or three days of having little to no sleep you drop your steak on the ground when trying to serve it up and start crying? Some of you do…I am sure…as the consumption of sleeping pills is sky high in our nation as well as the world today.

There are some salvageable parts to her book as she does offer you some tips for sleeping—which I have been using -- and really some of them have been working. And again, she does convince you that if you don’t get enough sleep your whole body and life will fall apart. In the end, I did not put her book in my Book Pharmacy as I just could not forgive her dream chapter—it really was too much to bear. However, I did get some great tips for sleep as I am too afraid to try any of those pills with terrifying side effects. Below is a link to her Sleep Revolution website. It is geared for you to buy her book; however, she generously provides on her site a lot of great free sleep tips, resources, and information.

Arianna Huffington's Site

Jennifer Barnick

Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”

Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.

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