Sometimes all you want to do is curl up like a koala and have a nice deep sleep. This is brilliant in principal, practice can occasionally be a different matter. For most of my life I suffered insomnia and would generally average 2 hours of sleep at night, 3 or 4 if I were incredibly lucky. During the nighttime hours, I would roam around the house, sometimes sneak out of my parents place and roam around the neighbourhood or more often than not, devour a book or two to pass the time.
You begin to tell when you are absolutely exhausted when you find that you have read the same paragraph about 20 times and cannot get to the next line. Usually, I would progress in this fashion for a week or so, then have a session where I just had to crash out – and crash out hard, then start the cycle all over again. Anyone who has dealt with insomnia knows what I am talking about.
For the last 5 years, my insomnia has been pretty good. I try to keep to a set sleeping schedule as much as possible and found that having a book of poetry beside the bed as something nice to focus on certainly helped me drift into a calm sleep. Generally, W. B. Yeats Brown Penny pops into my head, I love that poem, as I begin to settle down for the night. I arrange my pillow so that it is at just the right angle, and get the thermal leg all sorted outside of the doona to regulate my body temperature as best I can. On a side note: those memory foam pillows that have the gel insert are amazing. I fall asleep, focusing on the things and generally people, in my life that make me feel truly blessed. I recount conversations and times spent together and drift off into a pleasant sleep.
That is a good night. Especially if it is a night I can stay asleep, or a weekend where I don’t get woken by my alarm – or by my regular checking of the clock to figure out how many more minutes of slumber I have before the damn alarm goes off and I have to commence my morning routine.
On a bad night, I am my partners worst nightmare. You see, I am one of those adults that suffers from night terrors. Unlike a nightmare, where you are generally aware of what it is that scared the fuck out of you when you are jerked out of your sleep, a night terror can leave you not remembering a single thing. At times I will wake up and be able to gradually piece together what was going through my mind. At other times, it is a complete blank. Apparently sleep walking goes hand in hand with night terrors, although I have (to the best of my knowledge) never been a sleep-walker. Geez, I run into things enough at the best of times, just imagine how bruised I would be if I were asleep. Actually, I have a funny story about that. A couple of years ago, I was busting for the loo in the middle of the night so forced myself out of bed and with my eyes still pretty much closed, threw myself in the direction of the en suite. Little did I remember that I was sleeping on the opposite side of the bed than what I was used to and collided at decent speed with the snake enclosure that lined one wall of the room. Ouch.
Anyway, back to the night terrors. It can make you really question your sanity when you wake in the morning, feeling rather shite and not terribly rested, to be asked questions concerning where exactly the phantom dog in the bedroom came from, why you were trying to crawl under the person sleeping peacefully beside you and my all time favourite, what was with the blood curdling scream. Seems I have a decent set of pipes on me when I am afraid.
I have read, that these episodes tend to occur in the first few hours after falling asleep. And from my experience this is true. At times it seems that I have just zonked out into an incredibly deep sleep and the next second I am possessed.
Luckily, my partner has come to be somewhat used to these little episodes. In our previous place while my life was in quite a bit of upheaval, they were a regular occurence. Now that life has settled down a bit, they are getting less common. He has also learnt that I would take a bullet for him but if an eight legged freak (yes I am arachnophobic… and no, snakes and those evil things are completely different) is anywhere near me, I am saving myself… even if I have to sacrifice him. He wakes me up and holds me tight and for the most part isn’t judgemental. I attempt to drift back off to sleep and hope that the terrors stay away.
In the immortal words of Metallica:
Hush little baby, don’t say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It’s just the beasts under your bed
In your closet, in your head