Monday, March 1, 2010

Sleep On It

Whoo! Sorry, I've been AWOL for a week or so. I wish I could be all, "Oh, I was jet-setting around Europe with my Siamese cats and my manservant Raoul," but that would be a stinking lie. I've mostly been lazing around: Reading week was last week, so there was skiing, snowshoeing, and watching an entire season of The Office. This week, it was coming home and disrupting my sleep schedule to the point where I've been falling asleep at dawn and then lurching through my days like a scary zombie. Going without sleep is a terrible, terrible thing.

When my mom mentioned that babies make people into early risers, it was the first inkling I had that maybe parenthood wasn't going to be my bag. After a terrible run-in with insomnia in my first year in university, I've been what might be characterized as a bad sleeper: it takes me forever to fall asleep, I'm tired all the time, and it's way too easy for me to go completely off the rails, vis-a-vis scheduled bedtimes. I'm terrible at naps. I hate sharing the bed (and I'm not alone). Sometimes, I'd prefer just to sleep on the floor. It's tricky, because these things aren't exactly easy to explain. And sometimes, they make me sound totally insane.

Sleeping is a non-negotiable. It isn't like fancy bottled water or internet access: sleep deprivation makes me people go crazy, in a very real way. The torturers in Gitmo use it as a way of fucking with the enemy so deeply, it can rearrange selves and personalities. And while my sleep-suckitude is a very different levels than those people, the difference between well-rested, sleep-scheduled me and falling-asleep-at-dawn me is astounding. If I were a different kind of writer, I might say it was night and day (rim shot!); not sleeping properly makes me feel enough nausea without needing to devolve into Jack Paar-esque comedy.

I've tried it all: turning the light off at eleven means that I toss and turn for hours; reading in bed means I'm sucked into a Stephen King book and then can't sleep because I'm too busy wondering if there's something trying to get in my third-floor window; watching TV is no good, because I just keep watching, leading to TMZ viewings that are no good for anyone; warm milk helps, as does a hot bath, but only a little.

It's troubling: my body seems to crave the most zzzs between the hours of eight am and noon. This is going to make getting a real-person job sort of a nightmare once I leave the Magical Garden of University Living. Most jobs - ones with benefit packages, anyway - seem to require some sort of commitment to being there in the morning. I've worked a few jobs wherein I had to be there at nine; these were summer jobs and the sun was already pouring through my window, being cheery and heating my bedroom up like a convection oven. Let's just say it was better to leap out of bed at eight than sweat to death under the duvet until noon. But I've never really had a job through the winter, where I had to get up under the cover of darkness, bike somewhere as the sky was lightening to gray, and slog through the day. That sounds terrible!

Over the next couple months, I need to figure out a way to get better at sleep. I quit piano lessons in elementary school, because I didn't want to practice. Practicing my sleep sounds equally lame, but I figure getting those forty winks in an appropriate timeslot is one of the best steps I can take towards becoming a functional grown-up. Plus, I figure it's best to practice sleeping; that way, if I do have a baby someday, I'm already a seasoned vet, not some junior-league amateur.

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