Humans allegedly spend a third of their lives asleep. Like eating and pooping, sleeping should be one of the easiest human things to do, something extremely hard to be terrible at. Sleeping. Duh. You lay down when you’re tired and you sleep and then you wake up and you aren’t tired any more. No prob, Bob!
Yeah, except about 30%-35% of us experience brief periods of insomnia, and for %10 of the population, it’s a chronic problem. I’ve been ass-terrible at sleeping my entire life, though I don’t know if I would describe my issues as chronic insomnia so much as, well, being crap at sleeping. Like how I’m crap at Scrabble.
Here are some gifs that I think nicely illustrate what my frustration with sleep has been like over the years.
The worst part about insomnia isn’t actually the sleep deprivation. Motherhood has proven to me that I can rely on a lot less sleep than I think I need. The second part that sucks of course is the anxiety factor. “If I go to sleep RIGHT NOW I will have four hours of sleep, and I need to sleep because it’s a field trip day tomorrow…” That mental chanting is definitely not fun. But the worst part is actually the loneliness. Everyone else is asleep, so you’re up by yourself, but you can’t really do anything because it might wake people up. So you crawl into a little corner with a flashlight and hate your existence.
I was never a good sleeper. My mom had to bribe me to stay in my bed. She put a purse on the doorknob, and put a dime in it each night. If I stayed in my bed and didn’t call for her, I got to keep the dime. Eventually I saved up enough to buy a My Little Pony. Maybe I need to start doing that again? Definitely something I’ll try with my daughter, because I’m afraid she’s on the same track.
The worst, though, was sleepovers. Call me crazy, but as a tween/teen I liked to sleep in a bed, with the lights off, in a quiet place. My friends’ random basements and bedrooms did not provide me with that. I guess I was sleep-picky because I couldn’t fall under with the TV on, watching whatever movies we’d rented, and people snoring, rustling around, etc. Seriously, everyone at the slumber party would go to sleep and I would just lay there in my sleeping bag wondering why I was doing this. It’s seriously detrimental to not be able to sleep in other places. I’m sure there were slumber parties I skipped and social situations I missed out on because I didn’t want to pull an all-nighter all by myself.
I remember one night in particular I spent the night at a friend’s with a bunch of other girls, and I ended up reading a stack of Newsweek magazines in the bathroom for hours. Newsweek. I was 14.
You’d think that would be a low point, but it was actually college. My freshman year, I had a room mate I ended up not getting along with for a number of reasons (this link should explain our lifestyle and philosophical differences). She wasn’t super accommodating about my sleep schedule, and would often stay up until midnight or later on AOL instant messenger… keeping the dumb little messaging sounds on the computer so I had to lay there and listen to it. She came home late a lot, and her computer desk was like right next to my head. The light from the screen she NEVER SHUT OFF didn’t help. Never mind the people talking loudly on the phone in the hallway, or the fact that they were building the Belin-Blank Honors Center right outside our window. Let’s just say I drank a lot of NyQuill that year. Like, a lot of it.
To this day, I still struggle. At least now they have invented Ambien, and I can get it when I need it. Mostly. Because it’s like I feel bad explaining to my doctor that I am so much more rested on that medication. I suppose they don’t want people taking it all the time, but if it helps?!?!?! Don’t judge me. Still, some nights, I wander around our condo while my husband and daughter and all three stupid cats are asleep.
Ideally, I would sleep in a soundproof pod with just a little bit of violet ambient light. I always thought it would be super cool to go into cryogenic sleep because you’d have no choice other than to fall asleep, right? Or go into stasis on a space ship for a long voyage…
There are some nights when I know I have an early morning where I’m just hoping Spock would come along and just neck pinch me.