Late at night, body tired, mind exhausted and overactive, I find myself wishing to talk about sleep. Something I struggled with almost all of my life and still have issues with, although I’m way more accepting than I used to be and that helps.
In theory, I love to sleep. In the winter time, when my rhythm slows down, I will sleep more than usual and it will be extremely difficult to wake up in the morning. In the summer, my clock changes and I usually won’t be able to sleep for too long in the morning, no matter at what time I went to bed.
But there’s one constant throughout the year(s) that proves to be the most challenging: the difficulty of falling asleep.
Every day I feel so tired and fantasize about how early I’m going to go to sleep and how well I’m going to rest. Night comes, I get sleepy sometime between 8 and 10 pm, and I fight it, I have more stuff to do. Gotta do my bedtime rituals. Gotta read this. Gotta write that. Eventually, exhausted, I stumble into bed, and the minute my head touches the pillow, I know I’m going to have to face it face to face: The Mind.
See, The Mind never sleeps. If she could, she wouldn’t let me sleep either. She goes on and on. Even if I move past the thinking of thoughts (which can go in so many directions), there’s the noise. The indescribable fragments of something, the song snippets (both loved and beloved), the broken radiohead phenomenon, the half finished ideas. The more soliciting the day is, the worse it’s going to be up there. My body will desperately try to get comfortable, switching from one position to another, and sometimes they will all feel unnatural and uncomfy.
I keep trying to monitor the activity and apply breathing and relaxation techniques, but eventually I usually end up just listening to some other thing my mind wishes to say. Then I will probably wake up at about 7 or 8 am and my body will feel too tired and achey to start the day so I’ll just struggle falling asleep again. Sometimes I will succeed, other times I will just waste an hour or two in a weird barely-awake-but-not-asleep state in which my mind is as active as always.
Either way, the minute I wake up, she’s already one step ahead, as active as I left it.
In my teens, it used to get even worse. Then the meds sedated me and truthfully I can’t remember my sleeping patterns from then. But it’s always been tricky with sleep and now, with no treatments in my system, I see that things don’t show any signs of changing.
I’ve accepted this. Luckily I don’t have to wake up at a very early hour and I have a pretty flexible schedule so I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself when I see I can’t fall asleep and it’s already late. But back when I had a full time job, the intense schedule, coupled with the various other problems I had to deal with in such an environment (story for another time), made my mind more agitated than ever. I can’t deal with waking up at 7 or 8 or even 9 every day. It’s not that I don’t want to. I love early mornings and the feeling you get when you accomplish so much before noon. But my mind won’t let me.
I think I’ve always felt tired. Mom told me that after I was born, everyone was worried because all I would do is sleep and I lost a lot of weight because I wouldn’t eat (because sleep). When I was 12 a psychologist told me I have chronic fatigue. This life tires me. All of these stimuli exhaust me, all of these intense emotions, the coping with stuff, the whole complicated mechanism that I’ve built to deal with this reality, the anxiety… and the poor sleep.
I’ve always felt a twinge of jealousy towards people who can fall asleep easily, anywhere. I wish I could escape my own mind through sleep. Seems restorative, regenerating, the right thing to do. But naps leave me groggy and confused, feeling I lost a precious part of the day. Night time sleep always comes with complications. I can’t seek refuge there. Every night feels on the brink. Every morning a little voice says oh, not again. But no matter what, I’ll carry on. Forever tired.
Thank you for reading!