Insomnia Twitter is a remarkably unhinged yet unifying place

Having trouble sleeping? Hit Snooze is Mashable’s deep dive into the many ways to achieve a more peaceful slumber.


From the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. you can almost certainly count on Twitter to be an overwhelming hellscape.

During that specific span of time (and a few hours afterwards) nearly everyone you follow is awake, logged on for the day, and ready to tweet into the void until the sun goes down. But when they log off or fall asleep, Twitter transforms into a completely different platform. After midnight the online space becomes a digital rendezvous for insomniacs.

On the surface, Insomnia Twitter is a place to broadcast about your inability to sleep. But it’s so much more than that. A lack of sleep can sometimes inspire people to fire off their most unhinged takes, chat with users they might not ordinarily interact with, and open up about the genuine anxieties that are keeping them awake.

*Record scratch. Freeze frame.*

You’re probably wondering how we got here. Any of us. On Twitter. At three in the morning. I can’t speak for everyone, but as someone who has struggled with insomnia for years there are a few reasons I find myself turning to Twitter in the early morning hours.

When I was younger, my insomnia presented itself a bit differently than it does now. I’d often have trouble falling asleep, but once I was out I’d be out for the night. Nowadays, I’m usually so tired that I drift off to sleep fairly quickly, but once my body gets a few house of rest I tend to wake up, and remain up, for hours on end.

Whether I’m coming out of a bad dream or have to get out of bed to use the bathroom, once I leave that safe middle ground between sleep and wakefulness it’s all over for me. I remember everything on my to-do list, overthink all of my anxieties, and stress over the fact that each minute I spend awake means one less minute of sleep.

When insomnia strikes I often reach for my phone and attempt to re-focus my attention elsewhere. And without fail, after several minutes of catching up on unread texts and scrolling through Instagram, I wind up on Twitter.

Insomnia Twitter has very few rules

The thing about Insomnia Twitter is that most people who are online after midnight are deliriously tired. The things they say don’t always make sense, and their tweets aren’t always fully thought out. But they don’t have to be. Ridiculousness is both understood and embraced in this exhausted community, and there’s absolutely no pressure to be your best, wittiest Twitter self.

When people can’t fall asleep or prematurely wake from their slumbers, they get a sort of free pass to tweet dumb things. That doesn’t mean you have the right to be offensive after hours, it just means that if you want to whine about being tired, tweet one of your embarrassing drafts, or admit a slightly shameful TV or movie opinion, there’s truly no better time to do it. 

I’ve sent my fair share of embarrassing tweets after midnight, so I know this firsthand. Just a few weeks ago I accidentally replied to a tweet with a still image of Paul Rudd on Hot Ones instead of that GIF of him saying “Hey, look at us.” If I’d done that in the daytime I would have instantly deleted it, but at 4:00 a.m.? It’s hilarious.

People around the world use Twitter, which means there’s always someone online, but a perk of tweeting after most of your friends, co-workers, and followers have gone to sleep is that they’re not online to see or react to your thoughts. If you wind up regretting your insomnia-fueled tweets you always have the luxury of deleting them before other people wake up. The after-hours tweet and delete is highly cathartic.

Insomnia Twitter can still be chaotic, don’t get me wrong. It’s simply a different type of chaos. After midnight my timeline is filled with fewer heated debates and distressing articles, and more lighthearted content like hilariously bizarre dream descriptions.

In addition to dream recaps, insomnia-driven tweets often consist of unfiltered takes. Did you like Rihanna’s album better than Beyoncé’s? Are you in desperate need of some romance? Do you have a crush on a follower? If you tweet those controversial confessions after midnight you just a might be able to get away with them.

Twitter, you up?

I’d be lying if I said Insomnia Twitter isn’t messy as hell at times, but it can also be a surprisingly unifying space.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep I log onto the app and wind up reconnecting with a pal in another time zone. Other times a follower I don’t engage with often will reply to my “can’t sleep” tweet and we’ll bond over our shared experience. At its core Twitter strives to connect people, and Insomnia Twitter perfectly exemplifies how the platform can be used to foster a sense of community.

When Twitter users can’t sleep and have nothing particularly meaningful tweet, a common thing to do is take roll call and see who else is awake.

Though everyone’s experiences with insomnia are different, there’s something reassuring about seeing people like, retweet, or reply to an “Insomnia Twitter, you up?” tweet. Not being able to sleep is frustrating, but knowing you’re not alone in the experience helps a little.

United in panic

I’ve noticed that Insomnia Twitter becomes even more unifying in times of widespread panic. As the coronavirus cases continue to spread and concern plagues the world, I’ve personally been having more trouble sleeping than usual. Anxiety-based insomnia is a real struggle to deal with, but again, knowing you’re not alone in your fears is comforting.

No matter what time of day it is, when pandemic-related anxiety gets to be too overwhelming, Twitter can act as a digital gathering space. Users can tweet to voice their anxieties, commiserate with people who share them, and comfort each other.

Twitter may not always be the most uplifting place online, but at the end of the day (literally) when you’re having trouble sleeping it will always be there to distract and entertain.

After midnight, the platform has the potential to become a beautiful, empathetic place that brings people together more than it tears them apart.

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