“If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
I was not raised in the bosom of religion. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me, you may argue. However, I was peripherally aware of this children’s prayer, and it scared the bejeesus out of me. I’m gonna DIE tonight if I go to sleep. That’s what I got out of it, anyway.
There was a book, too, a children’s re-telling of classic monster stories, including Dracula and Frankenstein. What effing genius thought THAT was a good idea? Two of the illustrations from that book are in my crazy brain to this DAY: Frankenstein’s monster crashing through a wall, and the eyes of the Count burning in the darkness. My parents would get exasperated with me, tell me that there was nothing there, that I should just go to sleep. Well, yeah, there was nothing there NOW, but any second, Frank could come crashing through my wall, and Count Dracula is probably right outside my window watching me and waiting for me to go to sleep so he can bite me and drain all the blood out of me. I was terrified of the dark. I couldn’t sleep with my door closed, and needed the light in the hallway left on. Even so…
My bedroom was on the other side of the wall from the living room, and my bed was against that wall. According to my parents, I tossed and turned so much they thought that I would come crashing through the wall.
When I was in grade 13, Mum and Dad moved to a reserve in northern Manitoba, to take teaching jobs. Long story, bro. Anyway, I was left in the tender care of my older brother, who worked shifts and slept at odd times. One night, I decided to watch “The Exorcist” on TV, and got myself well and truly spooked. When it was over, I had to turn out the lights, lock the door, and head to bed. It was well and truly Stygian darkness, and at the time, it seemed to me that the very best thing to do would be to run like hell and jump into bed, because as we all know, nothing can get you if you’re in your bed with all the covers pulled up and no body parts hanging over the edge, right?
At the house where I grew up, where my Dad still lives today, all the bedrooms are off a long hallway, very echoey because of the high cathedral ceilings. There is a door closing off that hallway from the kitchen and living room, but I don’t remember it ever being closed.
As Stewart McLean would say “…exactly”.
My brother never liked horror movies, and had gone to bed early as he was working an early shift. He had closed the Never Closed Door so the noise wouldn’t bother him.
I ran headfirst, full tilt into a closed door. I woke up my brother, who turned on the light to find me lying on the floor, laughing at my own stupidity and crying because my nose hurt so much. He just rolled his eyes and went back to bed.
Fast forward to today.
I’m still not a good sleeper, and menopause has exacerbated it. I’m hot, I’m cold, I’m hot again. My brain turns over and over, replaying the events of the day, worrying about stuff that hasn’t even happened yet. I tend to drink too much coffee to make up for my lack of sleep, which turns into a vicious cycle.
My doctor prescribed pharmaceuticals a few times, but I’m reluctant to rely on them. I’ve tried valerian and St. John’s wort. I often use OTC sleeping aids. My Dear One found a tea at David’s Teas, “Mother’s Little Helper”, which I drink each night, which calms me. I read, or journal, or check my facebook and e-mail. I get plenty of exercise, try to live a fairly healthy lifestyle. I don’t drink heavily, or even regularly, any more. I meditate, and use relaxation techniques. Part of it is genetic. I come from a family of poor sleepers.
The worst part of sleeping poorly, to me, is that I miss my dreams. I have always had very lucid, crazily-plotted dreams, and it seems that when I don’t sleep well, they are disjointed, and I only remember tiny snips of them. I’ve analyzed my own dreams in the past, with the help of a dream interpretation book and the internet, and often they are helpful in sorting out my everyday life. I miss those dreams.
I once went on Champix, a smoking-cessation drug. I had the weirdest, scariest dreams ever when I was on that stuff. Most unsettling was that all the characters were marionettes, in the style of Thunderbirds. If you’re too young to remember Thunderbirds, they ripped it off to produce Team America – World Police. The legless, bearded dwarf in the pushcart, who could scale walls like a spider, is still looking over my shoulder, as is the old woman sitting by the fire, knitting, surrounded by cages containing horribly mutated children. Yeah, that’s the stuff that comes out of my subconscious, apparently.
So, I sleep when I can. Officially, my sleeping time is from about 9:15 at night until 5:10 a.m., but really, it goes like this:
- have a cup of tea while Denny eats his dinner and heads off for work
- pack gymbag with clothes for work the next day
- go to bed at 9:15
- check facebook and email on netbook
- read for a bit
- have to get up to pee and start process all over again
- drift off around 11
- too hot, kick off blankets
- freezing – try to find blankets again
- repeat above
- wake up at 2:00 – have to pee again (welcome to middle age)
- check and see if D’s sent me an e-mail
- try to get back to sleep, realize I only have 3 hours before I have to get up – also, do I have to pee again? Maybe better just to make sure.
- make notes about things I want to blog about
- make more notes about things I need to do at work
- spend next 3 hours worrying that I only have 3 hours to sleep and sleep fitfully
- wonder whether the alarm will go off – keep one eye open to keep track of time
- was that someone trying to break in?
- what the hell did the cat knock over?
- alarm goes off at 5:10 – have it set to annoying Christian rock station so I don’t just lie there and groove to tunes
- brush teeth, throw on gym clothes
- nuke some coffee, put it in a travel cup
- leave it on the kitchen table as I rush out to start My Fabulous Life all over again
Sleep deprivation is a powerful tool, used for both torture and mind control. If I get four solid hours, that’s a really good night, but that almost never happens.
And now you know WHY She Just Ain’t Right. She Ain’t Getting Enough Sleep.