Sleep is a funny old thing. For me I’ve always needed lots. I am a sleep-problem-solver and with it sparks my creativity. I’ve always needed a good dose of the zzzzs, even as a child – my Mum has countless photos of me asleep in my food or curled up in extraordinary places. Even now, I am completely unpalatable to those around me if I have not squeezed in the required eight hours. Friends can see the warning signs of my need to sleep as my face seems to physically melt and one eye becomes unsettlingly small. I look almost Dali-esq at these moments and as equally surreal in my speech.
But more than this, I adore my slumber. I often think myself like some over fed woodland creature, coated in hibernating layers of fat and fur, nestled deep beneath over-sized quilts and duvets. Pillows and cushions surround me, tucking me into my den, safe and warm away from the dangers of the world. I am regularly known to sleep in my bath robe so that I can hide beneath its huge hood, just a nose tip peeking into the air beyond. Granted this has possibly grown from living in FREEZING houses for the vast majority of my life, if not all, but it still brings great comfort and, dare I say, joy. However, it could also come from the fact that despite being a generally sleepy individual, the lull of slumber so often eludes me.
Nights like this are the most frustrating. I am quite clearly exhausted yet every time my head hits one of the thousands of pillows beneath it, my brain is filled with the ridiculous. So many random, unimportant and bizarre thoughts cross through the aching mass between my ears. And most of them negative. I seem confronted with an ever-increasing mountain of things to do even though none can be solved at 2 in the morning. But things which don’t even need addressing until days, weeks, months and sometimes years in the future. Some of them will NEVER matter as they are too ridiculous to even comprehend in rational thought. Nevertheless, worries over which week the garden waste is collected or whether I might need a sleeping bag for a trip in a months time or trying to work out why I didn’t like a book or which practice/practise is the correct spelling for the dentist, still play over and over until all that remains is a whirring whirring mess. Some thoughts are much bleaker than others and a panic can set in, but no longer spiraling out of control. No, I think I am better at handling the blacker thoughts about my world and the state that it may or may not be in. It can be far from rational. But at least I don’t slip into hypochondria and wonder what breed of superbug or cancer will see me off before dawn!
A lot of people with insomnia can channel it into words and creativity – some of the worlds greatest authors and geniuses are prone to melancholy and a distinct lack of regular sleep patterns. I just become a vegetable. A sulking vegetable at that. I cannot focus on a task to make me drift, even reading seems a chore. I become so restless that even returning to the sofa and our DVD collection does not interest me in the slightest. I become a very different person. A difficult, twitching monster in waiting, hanging on until those first rays of morning light for the transformation into the snappy, snarky, moody, angry teenager which still hides within. Not everyone feels my wrath, but those closest certainly feel a whiplash of either my tongue or tail. In these moments I feel vaguely delirious. It is unpleasant. I do not like it and there is only one cure.
I sometimes wonder if this increasing hobby of mine to stay awake unwillingly is a hangover from younger days. Through my childhood and teens I was a sleepwalker and, as my mother reliably informs, I seemed to speak in gibbering tongues through the night. I could often be found with my eyes wide open whilst sleeping and these days I can chat and murmur until the cows comes home – which is when exactly?! And I rarely have pleasant dreams which I can recall – the only lasting visions are the nightmares. Last night I was running away from a band of heavily armored Marines as they hunted down me and my friend Erika after she brutally murdered Susan Boyle with an axe to the face. It may sound quite entertaining but when you wake up sweating thinking that SuBo’s blood is actually running through your fingers, its less than pleasant. Most of the lingering memories find me trapped in fire or drowning or believing that Steve has been killed. I am quite sure the amateur psychologist in all of us could tell me a few things about these visions. Indeed, I once had a very old copy of a dream book (possibly nineteenth century) which seemed to spell doom with every indiscriminate thing I dreamt. It wasn’t long before I put it away.
So perhaps it could be a slight fear of what demons lurk in dreamland. Or perhaps more simply I am sulking after not speaking to the boy for three whole days. I am more or less used to spending nights alone now but usually I have talked to him, listened to him and laughed with him. It is only a short trip and up until now I have been occupied, but my boy is currently working in Singapore. But we have emailed back and forth and yet I still cannot find that place where I can drop off. I feel like I am eternally waiting for something; a bus, a train, a spark of inspiration, a lottery win or a break in. I don’t know what it is, but my body seems filled with anticipation of . . . something. It just can’t decide what that inexplicable something is. Perhaps its sleep itself. The constant need has turned into a perpetual cycle of insomnia; I want to sleep so damn bad that I can’t actually sleep for the thought of wanting it etc etc etc. Is this possible? Do I sound crazy? Has rationality finally left through the window to leave me with several hours of pondering the more sinister quandaries of my existence? Left me to paddle through the quagmire of guilt and worry and fear alone? I sincerely hope not. That would not lend itself to a happy Tuesday!
No, I am quite sure this is nothing intrinsically wrong, just a natural part of my make up. Sure, these nights (and strings of them) are much worse when actual pressure is placed upon me, but on the whole I’m doing ok. I am incredibly fortunate; I have no real financial worries (beyond the thought of trying to pay for a wedding), employment concerns are no more than they were, my family and loved ones are generally in good health and happy, I have a home (yet on a split site – perhaps I should just simply look upon it as being lucky to have TWO homes!!), a roof, food and water and a shiny ring on my finger from a man who loves me. I am a very lucky girl. I have so much in my world to make it full and rich. So much to enjoy. Perhaps this is my body’s way of giving me a treat? Starving itself of something it loves so that my Easter can be filled with duvet days?! I can only hope. Otherwise I think the world may need a health warning.