The Three A.M. Club

Relief, for Jacqueline Coumans, 77, a retired decorator and French teacher, from fears induced by what she termed “our political chaos” has just lately come from reciting the fables of the Seventeenth-century French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine. “I could not fall asleep at all after the first debate,” Ms. Coumans mentioned in a Facebook message. “I was waking up at 3 a.m. sweating with anxiety.”

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No matter that the sonorous tempo of the French in use when she memorized the fables in childhood is commonly paradoxically at odds with their harsh underlying ethical classes — “The Wolf and the Lamb,” with its conclusion that may is correct, is especially unnerving — Ms. Coumans finds them soothing. “There’s a balance in the sentences that balances your brain.”

To discover her personal equilibrium in parlous instances, Sally Fischer, a Manhattan publicist in her 60s, turns to not literature, she mentioned, however to classic sitcoms. “I’m a naturally calm person, so I actually find it difficult to jump out of my skin,” Ms. Fischer mentioned.

Yet within the run-up to Nov. 3, Ms. Fischer has turn out to be all too accustomed to a bodily anxiousness evoked by that determine of speech. “I’ve never been much of a TV person, but now, from 3 a.m. until I fall asleep again, I retreat into ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ or Dick Van Dyke or ‘Make Room for Daddy,’” Ms. Fischer mentioned. “This may sound stupid, but watching how Andy Griffith raised Opie or Danny Thomas raised his TV kids, in a world where the work ethic, doing charitable work, being good to thy neighbor is such a counter to the disgustingness we’re going through now, helps me suppress the demons.”

A widespread, palpable sense of being hunted into the predawn darkness hardly appears out of the odd with the world within the grip of a deadly and invisible menace, mentioned Asha Tarry, a psychotherapist working towards in Manhattan. “To the multiple stresses we’ve all experienced during Covid,” Ms. Tarry mentioned, “add the compounding factors of racial tension, furloughs, the elections, so much social isolation, and it is not surprising people are sleepless, grinding their teeth and having 3 a.m. nightmares.”

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