The Everyday Lore Project

29 July 2020 – Insomnia

29 July 2020 – Insomnia

I’ve never been so happy to realise how I could achieve today’s folklore: I’ve been trying to cure my insomnia through the medium of dance.

Cure For Insomnia Using Mashed Potato update: It didn’t work. In fact I had such an excruciating nightmare, I had to force myself awake to escape it. Then spent several more restless hours in other dreams before being woken up by my alarm. *Shakes fist at bedtime mashed potato*

So with under-eye bags now bigger than an Ikea shopper, I thought I would seek out some folklore insomnia cures. Now, a bit of background. I’ve had bouts of insomnia since I was a child, so I’ve tried just about everything. Amongst other things, I could recite the alphabet backwards by the time I was 10, I’ve counted more sheep than you’ve had chops, my bedroom is littered with lavender in sprigs, jars, sachets, hanging ornaments and sprays, I have a reading nook to which I decamp after being awake for more than half an hour, I have blackout curtains, and I also have a liking for Radio 4 Extra when things get dull. There is very little I haven’t tried over the years when it comes to sleep hygiene. That is until a spell exploring the power of my body as I weave wordless magic (or words to that effect) popped up. And then I got rather excited. 

Incidentally, I also have a long history with the expression ‘through the medium of dance’. Firstly, there’s not much else to do during a show in a silent, near dark backstage, especially if you’re trying to flirt with an actor. And secondly, the theatrical discipline of interpretive dance is fantastically easy to take the piss out of. 

My instructions were to be specific about my desired outcome. Having misfired in the past with non-specificity, I took this point seriously. Next I was tasked with brainstorming how I was going to physically interpret my wordless magic in order to manifest my desire. I decided I needed a sleepy soundtrack. Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me by son of a preacher man, Alice Cooper was swiftly discarded. After much deliberation, I chose Walking on a Dream, Empire of the Sun, which may feel a little counterproductive given it’s tempo, but it’s an old favourite from my running days and blocked out a multitude of night time sounds from my Southern hemisphere hostel dormmates. 

All that was left was to figure out my routine. And as my only true wish was to have a good night’s sleep, I based my interpretation on my bedtime routine. It was so fun. The song was far too short. I could have gone on for ages. I’m pretty certain I was so into it, I forgot to do all the other instructions, like the whole gratitude bit at the end, and the breathing. And the magical focus. So I’ll see. I’ll report back tomorrow. In the meantime, if you have any folkloric remedies you’ve successfully tried, like eating lettuce, breathing in for 8, holding for 4, breathing out for 7, sending your other half to sleep in a soundproofed spare room, please let me know in the comments. My tired eyes are begging you…


Neff, A. (ed) (2019) Llewellyn’s 2020 Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac, Holidays & Lore, Spells, Rituals & Meditations, Woodbury, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

2 comments on “29 July 2020 – Insomnia”

  1. Glorious Barbara says:

    Alphabetical lists work a treat if you wake during the night and can’t nod off again. For example, work your way from A to Z naming different breeds of dog. Afghan Hound, Bulldog, Chihuahua and so on. I may be barking up the wrong tree though as I’m not sure if it counts as folklore…

    1. That’s a very good idea, and dogs would work a treat! You could do one with shoes: ankle boots, brothel creepers, clogs… I’ll give it a go. And yes, it’s definitely folklore…

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