Suggested Listening: Blue Mind by Alexi Murdoch
Sleep and I have always had a strange relationship. Love/hate might not even really cover it to the full extent. As a kid, my bedtime was a very rigorous 8pm on school nights. I got in trouble a lot of nights because my mom would catch me at 10 or 11 reading by the bathroom light or listening to music. Because I wasn’t sleepy.
And then summer would come, and I would go visit my grandparents in Fayetteville. And stay up playing video games and watching TV until like 2 or 3 in the morning. Then I’d get up at the break of dawn and just be wide awake all day and all night, fueled by caffeine and sugar.
And then one night I stayed at a friend’s house while I was down there, and we stayed up until like 9 or 10AM watching anime and playing a free-form D&D variant with his massive LEGO collection. That was probably my first exposure to sleep deprivation and the resultant delirium. It was also the first time I ever pulled an all-nighter and then went and ate some fast food, which in this particular case was Taco Bell. It would be safe to say that a lifestyle change was made more or less at that point. I started going to bed closer to dawn than midnight, waiting for the sun to start coming up before I actually bothered to even consider laying down.
And then the internet came to my quiet little mountain region, and any chance of me ever getting a decent night’s sleep went out the window. For a LONG. TIME. We actually got our internet set up on a Friday. This was back in the days of 56.6k modems running 36.6 if you were fuckin’ lucky, and it tied up your phone line.
I hit the internet at like 4:30 or 5:00pm. When my dad came downstairs at 9:30 the next morning and found out I hadn’t slept, he banished me immediately hence to my room for the prison of “bedtime.” By the time I was halfway through middle school, my parents were worried I might have an internet addiction. It was hard to explain to them that it wasn’t necessarily the internet itself, but that there were people like me on the internet, people I actually understood and got along with better than the people around me.
In high school my bedtime got more lax and I started spending more time out of the house, especially around senior year when I ran into one of my friends who had dropped out because they wouldn’t let him take a class he by all rights should have been allowed to take. I started going to bed on school nights around 4AM. I was still at the school around 7AM because I fucking hate traffic, and I’d rather snooze for an hour in the hall than spend twenty minutes stopped in a car. I was still there every day until usually 9 or 10 PM during theatre season.
It is not, truly, that I dislike sleep, Quite the opposite in fact. I have amazingly vivid, entertaining dreams. Like Vin Diesel hunting Predators in a swamp on a fan-boat entertaining. The fact that I don’t remember most of them after I wake up does not in any way detract from my feeling of being greatly entertained. And when I’m asleep, I love to stay asleep. Right up until I don’t want it anymore, and then staying in bed is torture, just lying there not sleepy, not even that warm happy half-awake that makes me love just lying in bed and being comfy…it’s hell.
But the other reason it seems that I hate sleep so much: I hate missing shit because I’m asleep, and once I’m out it’s really difficult to get me to wake back up, so when I’m awake I want to stay awake, and though it’s not quite a conscious “I don’t want to miss anything” there are sometimes very lingering moments of “man something might happen soon I should stay up a little later and see if something happens.”
When I was in my twenties, especially my early twenties, I relished and indulged my insomniac nature. Staying up for a day and a half or two days and then sleeping for 4 hours was almost a matter of principle. “Oh I’ve got work AND school tomorrow from 11am to 1am…fuck it man I’ll hit the bed about 6 or 7, I’ll be fine whatever.” And for the most part I loved that shit. Parties that end before 6am? What the fuck is wrong with you pussies? Oh it’s 3am and everyone’s deucing out? What? The party just fuckin started! Lightweights. We’re only two episodes into this marathon and you’re going to bed now? Sissy. All that high metabolism and youthful vigor were not wasted on me, at least not mentally. I’ve never been that physically active, but my brain takes a lot of power to run effectively.
Yeah I’m 30 now. Fuck all that noise. I still love a party til 6am, but I also went out of my way to get a job that matched my desired activity cycle. But the days of staying up for 36 hours and sleeping for 4 are over.
Sleep and I finally came to an understanding, and that understanding is that if I don’t show sleep some more respect, it’s going to beat my ass. Sleep deprivation makes most other aspects of my life either completely unimportant or incredibly vexing; things as simple as doing the laundry or the dishes are completely not done simply because “urrrrrg….grrrroooogggggg.”
So now, sometimes I just decide that no matter how much insomnia wants me to stay up and do whatever the hell it takes to stay awake, I’m going to sleep for a while.
Which is what I did today. I should have been NaNo’ing. I did a little cleaning and played some LEGO Harry Potter. Finished the actual storyline and started going back through it to unlock things.
And then it was time for a nap. I don’t really know how else to explain it. Granted, there was also some tasty chicken and mashed potatoes involved, so the itis may have been a factor. Also tea…yeah…tea. *coughcough*
But I feel I am slowly reaching the stage in my life where my ability to function is becoming more heavily tied to my general levels of sleep. Going to work after only three or four hours of sleep has become far more brutal than I could ever have imagined, and some of the NaNo funk, I believe, may well have been caused by my level of tired the last fews days.
I guess I’m just going to have to accept that I’m getting older and I just can’t replenish the resources as easily as I could five or ten years ago. At least I still get to stay up all night and go to bed after the sun comes up. And for that, I most certainly feel blessed. Because fuck being awake when the sun’s up.
But that’s a story for another day.