Monday, April 08, 2013

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Sleep is something that I have taken for granted for most of my life.  It's always been reliable, it's always been achievable, and it's always been a pleasure.  I love to sleep...I love to take naps, I love to fall asleep on the couch watching television, I love to turn over and hit the snooze button...you get the idea.  Sleep and I are BFFs.  I'm fantasizing about it right now, as a matter of fact.

I have also always been a night owl.  A quiet house, control of the remote, a good book, and a comfy couch, and I'm good to go until two or three in the morning.  But that's for summer schedules, when alarms don't have to be set and naps can be taken in the middle of the day.  It's not a good plan for weeknights, for trying to function at a job, and for trying to deal with the myriad of other things that people expect me to do during the week.  So when sleep and I had a falling out last week, it was ugly.

I guess people with true insomnia know what this is about.  Your body is exhausted, you do everything right in order to set yourself up for a decent night's sleep, and sometimes you even feel like you might be right on the edge, but it Just.  Doesn't.  Happen.  The first night sucks, and the next day is rough.  You spend it yawning and wishing you could just put your head down on your desk and go to sleep on the half-graded papers.  But you make it through, determined to go to bed early that night to make up for the lost hours. 

I slept what I consider to be "normal" hours on Monday night last week.  Something like 11:30 or 12 until 6:20 or so when I finally stopped "snoozing."  But there was nothing Tuesday through Thursday nights.  Wait, I take that back.  One night, I slept from 11 to 12, then woke up again.  And on Friday morning, I did eventually fall asleep around 5:15, only to have the alarm go off 45 minutes later.  I started realizing that my brain had forgotten HOW to sleep.  I broke every insomnia rule.  I stayed in bed, determined to sleep.  I didn't try to read, because I didn't want to get sucked into a book and have another reason to stay awake.  I just kept going through the motions with nothing to show for it.  My brain just wouldn't stop thinking, and not about fuzzy bunnies and naps on warm sand, but about every single stressor in my life right now. 

I have never in my life felt like such total hell, with the exception of a few short weeks when Andrew was a baby.  Even then, I napped during the day.  No such luck here.  By Friday, I was so wired and jittery I couldn't even grade those papers on my desk or transfer data from one spreadsheet to another without utter confusion.  But by that point, I also wasn't tired.  What I was running on, I have no idea, but I managed to get myself together long enough to go out with friends and family that night to celebrate our anniversary.  I had multiple drinks (ummm, lots), but no food,--fully expecting to feel terrible the next day, but willing to make the sacrifice if any kind of sleep could be guaranteed.  And it worked, thankfully.  I was dead to the world an hour after we got home.  Not ideal, I know, and spare me the lectures, but I did what had to be done. 

Now, though, it's in the back of my mind that it could happen again.  I have friends who take prescriptions for their insomnia, and many of them were full of advice about it being hormonal or perimenopausal.  "Just wait for the hot flashes," they say!  I refuse to admit that that's the case, at least for now.  I'll continue to assume that sleep is just around the corner and ignore the nagging little voice back there taunting me with the possibility.  I'll continue to assume that my best friend sleep is right there waiting for me when my head hits the pillow.  And if not...well, it's bedtime, let's not discuss that possibility. 

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