Documentary Production & Insomnia

This blog entry will – by necessity – be short.

It’s not that I don’t have a lot to share.

Production this time has been fraught with difficulties that I really want to write about.

But dealing with video format questions and issues associated with high-resolution scans of 19th century illustrations that jitter on the HD screen seem beyond my abilities to discuss right now.

You see I have insomnia.

I wake up almost every morning about 2; and, instead of going back to sleep, I start grading papers, laying out the program for the debut of the documentary (April 19, 2012 in Akron), or working on the cue sheets for every photo and/or illustration used in “Rebels on Lake Erie” that Western Reserve Public Media needs.

If I walked around the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, I bet I’d see lots of houses with solitary lights burning. It’s not because my neighbors are wasting electricity; it’s because someone in the house probably cannot sleep.

According to a survey of the National Sleep Foundation, 58 percent of American adults report having insomnia a few nights a week. Consumer Reports found that 44 percent of those responding to a survey couldn’t fall asleep right away. The National Institutes of Health estimated that up to 70 million Americans are dealing with sleep problems.

And they can’t be all producing documentaries.

Consumer Reports, National Sleep Foundation and the National Institutes of Health all agree that high stress is the number one cause of insomnia.

No wonder I’m not sleeping at night.

Producing documentaries is a high stress sidelight to my regular high stress job, college professor.

And the stress of the documentarian only increases the closer it gets to the special event public premiere or the broadcast. Unfortunately, both of these events are taking place at the end of the semester, the highest stress time for professor and student alike.

No wonder I’m not sleeping!

So let me tell you what the next three weeks will hold: a public premiere of the documentary (complete with Civil War re-enactors, music and a panel – April 19); a broadcast (April 23 on WNEO/WEAO); a last flurry of papers and final exams (the week of April 30).

Ever the optimist, however, tomorrow I’m going to start following advice that Women’s Health offers insomniacs – no coffee after 2 p.m. and a half hour brisk walk. (My dog Sadie has volunteered to accompany me – what a pal!)

I’ll let you know how that works out….

Kathleen Endres

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