Some nights I have trouble falling asleep. It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s annoying when it does. I’m not sure what’s responsible for it. I tell myself it’s because I may have slept a bit long the previous night, or it could be due to an ill-advised nap in the afternoon, but I really have no clue.
On those rare nights, I’ll find myself yawning at around the time that I normally go to bed. But as soon as my head hits the pillow, all sense of fatigue will vanish. Closing my eyes does no good, nor does thinking sleepy thoughts. I just…don’t feel sleepy. At all. So I end up just hanging around the house until drowsiness hits me.
I have a complicated relationship with sleep. Normally, I’d say it’s my favorite activity, but that’s not always true. One of the big problems is that I don’t get nearly enough of it (a common refrain, I’m sure). Which makes it all the more puzzling that I should ever be able to not fall asleep.
There are times when I am actually afraid of sleep. I remember as a kid, I would sometimes do my best to stay awake at night because the prospect of falling asleep frightened me. Lying there, eyes shut, for 7 or 8 hours, completely dead to a world that was still spinning along. My next conscious memory not forming until the next morning. It was a horrifying thought. I have no idea what filled a child with such existential angst, but there it was.
It’s a horror that I haven’t experienced much as an adult. However, I have gone through phases of anxiety when I couldn’t fall asleep because my mind was clouded with dark thoughts. I had to resort to leaving the TV on, tuned to a sitcom or something so I could rest easier. This would usually be followed by involuntary naps the next day and the cycle would continue until it stopped on its own.
The anxiety attacks still hit me now and again. I’ll be on the verge of falling asleep, then get hit with a wave of terror that’ll make me sit up to clear my head. Fortunately, it doesn’t last as long as it used to, and I’ve learned to stop using the TV as a crutch. I can’t seem to shake off that anxiety though. Or the occasional bouts of temporary insomnia.
At least I don’t have nightmares. That’s a small consolation.