In the middle of the night, when I'm sleeping in my bed, warm and curled up against the cold, darkness all around me, there is a sudden loud noise followed by loud voices and raucous laughter and stomping feet and music playing and dice being shaken in a plastic cup. That's when it happens. The monster appears. Angry Kendal comes out.
I'm usually a nice person. usually. But there is something about being woken up in the night that seems to unleash the nastiest side of my personality.
Even if i am only fuming to myself, cursing to the darkness around me, now unable to sleep with the various stimuli from around the house, each sleep disruptor appears in my mind as a demon, stealing from me my greatest and, now, most illusive desire. Oh precious sleep! And evil sleep snatchers!
The frustration only builds as I continue in sleeplessness. Every sound is magnified. Every laugh becomes a derisive, mocking noise intended solely to disturb me. Every footstep is purposefully louder than necessary as the devious walker scoffs at my plight. Even the usually lovely sound of music, the strumming of a guitar, is a piercing, twanging intrusion entering my ears no matter how desperately I try not to hear it.
There is no logic in my thinking. No reason to be furious at each roommate or guest conversing about the house. But the ability to react and act rationally seems not to wake with the rest of my mind. I am an emotional bubble just waiting to burst. Panic. Furry. An irrational desire to tell everyone and everything to stop and be quiet and let me SLEEP FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!!! takes over all other senses.
I am an insomniac. I have been since... probably birth. I remember long nights as a child, willing myself to fall asleep, bored and alone, tired and frustrated, but unable to reach that lovely destination of dreams. I remember asking my mom to stay with me until I fell asleep, and then, when she fell asleep first (as she always did), trying not to move or make noise in case I woke her up. I remember the frustration, once I was old enough to go to school, knowing that I would wake up in the morning exhausted, my mom pulling me out of bed despite all resistance, and sending me off to school half asleep, but unable to do anything about it. No matter how hard I tried, sleep did not come. For years. And years and years and years.
There were all kinds of suggestions:
Count sheep or clouds or dogs or cats or . . . .
Repeat in your head "I can't fall asleep" over and over, until you finally do.
Try to think through a movie from beginning to end and don't think about anything else.
Play this soothing music to lull yourself to sleep.
Clear your mind before you get into bed.
Write down all your thoughts and put them away before you try to sleep.
Etc. etc. etc.
By the time I got to high school I'd created a methodology. I stayed up with everyone in my house until they all fell asleep. Then I'd watch TV. I'd read a book. I'd boil some tea and sip and wait. Until finally my eyes started to droop. Until I couldn't keep them open any longer. Until I was falling asleep without a struggle. Effortless. Then I'd quickly flip off the light and slip into rest.
Sometime in high school, though, I started falling asleep without such a process. I would be so tired. I was exhausted. Every day. It was still just as hard to get up in the morning, but I would stay up working on homework and reading or getting home late from swim meets, and I realized, I wasn't having my same old problem. I wasn't lying awake for hours before falling asleep. There were occasional nights when I was still haunted by restlessness. Days here or there when I would have to pull out the tea pot and my book. But they were rare.
That's the way I am now. For the most part. I sleep fairly normally. And insomnia is not a common issue.
But I'm a light sleeper. And I get woken up easily.And that's usually when the attacks hit me now--trying to fall back to sleep. Once I'm awake, I'm awake.
So I know when I come out of my room, disheveled and raving, I probably seem like a monster, inappropriately angry at the innocent (but noisy) victims of my rage. But you have to understand. Sleep is precious. And if you mess with mine, you are crossing a line. Whatever you are in the daylight--friend, roommate, complete stranger--as soon as you disturb my rest, you become the enemy.
At least until I fall asleep.