Back The Guardian Elena Ferrante: ‘At 30, I began taking sleeping pills, but slept only four hours a night’
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26 May 2:00am

Elena Ferrante: ‘At 30, I began taking sleeping pills, but slept only four hours a night’

The Guardian
Today, I don’t get much sleep at night, but I get enough in the early afternoon Long ago, I used to read and write as I waited for the moment of sleep. Soon I had to stop. Reading led me to a state of overexcitement: usually, one reads a few pages to fall asleep more easily, but the more I read, the more sleep passed me by. And it wasn’t a question of the quality of the books. Mediocre books, great books, novels, essays: sleep eluded me. Reading brought on a desire to write, and writing brought on a desire to read. The night passed without me closing my eyes and the next day was wasted. I was in a daze, I had a headache, I couldn’t do anything. It took me a long time to resign myself to the idea that, after eight o’clock at night, I shouldn’t open a book, and I shouldn’t write. It seemed a serious limitation, but it was necessary – not sleeping took away the desire to live. So I gave in, and for a while things improved. But during periods when I was writing for almost the whole day, my insomnia returned, and in a way that frightened me. I was sleeping, but had the impression that I was still writing, words and words.
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