Today, I’d like to talk about sleep and summer, two things I really dislike. Or rather, one I hate with the heat of a thousand suns (the latter, which is ironic, don’t you think?), and one that hates me (the former). Let’s start with sleep with a quick primer on my sleep background. I never went to bed before midnight, not even a tiny person. I tricked my parents by stuffing the crack under the door with a towel/t-shirt, then reading for hours. In college, I had a 7:45 a.m. class, and I could never fall asleep before 3 or 4 in the morning. Needless to say. I wasn’t at my best for that semester. My favorite story is how I was looking for my alarm clock one morning (small, purple traveling alarm clock), but it wasn’t where I kept it. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find it. I shrugged and opened my mini-fridge to grab my morning Diet Pepsi and guess what was in it? You got it, the alarm clock. I put it on the sink across the room from my bed, which kept me from putting it in the fridge again. Any time I would go home from college for a vacation or break, I would sleep fifteen hours the first day I was home and get sick.
In my sophomore year, I spent an entire semester falling asleep all the time. During classes, while talking to other people, and while driving*. It was embarrassing to wake up in class with a line of drool slithering down my chin and nothing but scribbles in my notebook (literal notebook. This was pre-phone/computer to take notes days). It was jarring to be talking to someone and then ‘wake up’ ten minutes later and have no idea what we had talked about. The other person never knew I was gone, which I’ll talk about more in a bit. As for the last, that was terrifying. ‘Waking up’ to be driving 70 mph is not a joyous thing, I’ll tell you that much.
Many many years later, I figured out that while I was falling asleep during the first instance (and still got As/A-s for all my classes that semester), I was actually experiencing dissociative episodes. This is self-diagnosed, and I hesitate to say I actually had multiple personality disorder (in part because it no longer exists as a diagnosis and is notoriously hard to prove), but I’m pretty comfortable in saying that I had someone else talking for me while I was ‘sleeping’ inside. I would posit the same for the third situation because I didn’t crash, and this happened more than once or ten times. How did it stop? I don’t know. It just…did. Luckily.
Fast-forward to after college. I slept roughly four hours a night. It was barely enough to keep me functioning, and I have done a million things to try to alleviate the problem. It’s legend, actually. Valerian root (made me suicidal), sleeping pills (couldn’t wake up), lavender (allergic to it), chamomile tea (did nothing), exercise (nothing), sleep deprivation (temporary boost, then nothing), melatonin (jack and shit), hot milk (nada), and other such remedies. None of it worked. Honestly, the only thing that helped me at all was–sex. A rousing bout of sex had me sleeping like a baby and for a bit longer. Not much, but some.
You want to know when I get the most sleep? When I’m sick. It’s the only time my body says, “Hey, you know what? We’ll let you sleep a little more than usual, but don’t get used to it.” It’s how I gauge when I’m getting better after being sick–when I start sleeping less. It’s frustrating as hell, but it’s a good gauge of my road to recovery. The problem is, right now, this is not happening. I’ve been sick, but I’m pretty much over it. However, my sleep is being stubborn in that after I’ve been up for fourteen hours, I’m dead tired. This is not usual for me. At all. So, I’ve been going to bed anywhere from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. and getting up anywhere from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Last night, however, I went to bed at 3:30 a.m. and got up at 8:30 a.m. My cat, Shadow, who has gotten used to me getting up at the crack of dawn, was not pleased at having to wait two whole hours for his breakfast. You would think he’d be used to being fed at weird times because I sleep at such odd times, but cats are creatures of habit.