Lee Nutter - Phnom Penh based Photographer

InsomniaJanuary 28, 2015


We’ve all had nights like these. Unfortunately I just know them a little better than most. These days I’m not usually as bad as this picture suggests. I’m used to it. Two or three nights in a row isn’t unusual, and instead of getting frustrated I just get up and do something productive. Coffee gets me through the day and I can usually reset a night or two later with a somewhat decent sleep. But it’s summer right now, and I live in a country I wasn’t made for. The bright morning light that stings your sleep deprived eyes is accompanied by an enveloping heat that no air conditioner can deal with. A few days without sleep and your body’s rhythms are all out of whack so it doesn’t matter anyway, the seething heat has compromised your system.

Exothermic now sleep becomes impossible, even if it has cooled down a little. You make it through another night and into another day. Unable to be even remotely productive, you crash out despite everything. Just as you’re slipping into a rejuvenating deep sleep, someone calls. Every. Single. Time. When you need it most, it’s most elusive. It’s no longer just the harsh Australian heat that’s out to get you, but your friends and family too. You resent them for even small demands on your time and attention, every little request coming at an inopportune time, and at the expense of rest, or sleep, or getting anywhere near the end of that todo list.

And then this image is somewhat accurate. At least in the way it hopefully portrays one’s determination to sleep. Tossing and turning all night, trying everything to get the kind of clarity only sleep can provide. Rational judgement, logic, patience, all hidden behind an oppressive fog. Mental and physical exhaustion vague memories now. Adrenaline is responsible for every action you’re able to make, and it has been for days. And still sleep doesn’t come. But the morning does, and that uncompromising light, and heat, and the bustling of a well rested people getting ready for the day, and the traffic, and the leaf blowers, and the phone calls. No wonder you can’t sleep at night, it’s so beautiful, so quiet, so peaceful. The night! What a time to be alive. But now it’s day again, and you let go of everything that you should be doing, your body gives in, and finally, you fall asleep.

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