America Is Losing An Amazing Amount Of Sleep Since Trump’s Election

Detail of The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893

The silence kills and the talk is cheap.

And you don’t get no relief.

It’s gonna be a long night,

Waitin’ for the first light.

It’s gonna be a long night.

— Gerry Rafferty: “It’s Gonna Be A Long Night”, 1979

The elevated level of hostility in the United States following the election and subsequent inauguration of Donald John Trump as the 45th President of the United States has precipitated a heightened anxiety at the collective level.

Make no mistake, ascertaining whether or not there has been an uptick of psychiatric diagnoses and hospitalizations since he took office may be difficult, especially since the media and the advertisers in the U.S. tend to practically encourage attention deficit disorder, what with the way too much and too little information is presented at the same time; and narcissism, particularly in the form of beseeching conspicuous consumption, as though name-brand products are status symbols. However, for many, the Trump Presidency and the implications thereof are traumatic. People are fearful of losing their health coverage. Others are worried that they may be targeted because of their religion, skin complexion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Whatever the case may be, the accounts of what people have been feeling are heartbreaking and disturbing.

For example, Alicia Bowman, of East Penn, Pennsylvania, whose transgender son Ari recently delivered a powerful speech to the local school board imploring them to combat hate speech in public schools, has described a recurring nightmare in which she runs at a frenzied pace down the aisle of a train that is heading the wrong way, moving from car to car, flinging off her belongings so she can run faster, calling frantically for her son.

Linda Allen, a counselor on Long Island whose clients are the parents of special-needs children, remarks:

“I fall asleep and wake up and get a snack and toss and turn and try to make sense of what’s going on. It’s unfathomable and that inability to reason with it is frustrating, and the whole situation is also enraging. Who could sleep?”

Since Trump was elected, Ariane Zurcher, a fashion designer from New York City, has seen some long nights.

“I have not slept a full night since the election. I’m 56 years old. I have never had insomnia or issues with sleeping until this.”

Some turn to various outlets for help. Since the election, Charles Whitin of Little Compton, Rhode Island, has passed the time rowing. Though he ends each day bone-weary and butt-sore, he remarks that he is guaranteed sound sleep through it. Unfortunately for some, the outlets only help so much. Though Chicago venture capitalist Bill Marcus has increased his exercise regimen, he admits that his compulsion to follow the news and separate the truth from the falsehoods has interfered with his sleep. Though Lindsay Steiman, a consumer researcher for Toyota in Hermosa Beach, California was advised by her doctor to meditate after complaining of stress and poor sleep due in large part to the toxic atmosphere in the wake of Trump’s fascist regime, owing to the rigors of raising a family, she simply hasn’t found the time to do so.

Others have turned to chemical remedies. Kasie Shiflett, a bartender and waitress working in Plattsburgh, N.Y. keeps a supply of Tylenol PM handy to ward off stress headaches and insomnia. Mary Molina, a retired clinical research assistant living in Durham, North Carolina, takes melatonin for easier sleep but is not averse to sometimes having a little bourbon or vodka. For Frederic Alan Maxwell, a researcher in Portland Oregon, the remedy is simple:

“Medical marijuana and Glenfiddich. Plus nonmedical marijuana and Glenfiddich.”

Perhaps when the future begins to appear uncertain, one has to go with whatever works. Nonetheless, sooner or later, something always gives.

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