I didn’t realize until college how different I was from most people. Sure, I knew my dad could fall asleep watching TV on the couch, but he’s a dad! All dads have that special power! So when it would take me anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours to nod off, I chalked it up to one of those things people just have to deal with. Then I went to college, where you live amongst like 40 people your age, and if you’re lucky enough to become friends with some of them, as I was, you become knowledgeable about each others’ sleep patterns. Sometimes you even take group naps. It happens. Anyway, it was around this time that I discovered that most people fall asleep - wait for it - right away. I was astonished! Because it takes me fuckin forever.
I can’t seem to help but scroll through the entire day in my head, think about everything I have to do the next day, wonder if I forgot anything I was supposed to do this week, make a mental shopping list, think about what I’ll wear tomorrow, squint at a dark form in the corner and wonder if it’s always been there or someone has snuck in to attack me, throw one leg out of the covers, flip my pillow over, think about the emails I sent that day and how they’ll be received (was I funny yet professional?), put the leg back under the covers, wonder why the dark figure in the corner waiting to attack me is standing super still instead of just getting it over with…you get the idea. It’s exhausting. Only not exhausting enough to fall asleep, apparently. It sucks, and the more you think about how you need to fall asleep, the less likely you are to do it. The next morning, there’s not enough coffee in the world.
When I was little, I had a short list of huge fears. Spiders, a fire in my house, and being kidnapped. This last one trumped all others, and I had nightmares on the subject almost constantly. (I blame America’s Most Wanted for this one…it was really big at the time). I was also a pretty creative and imaginative kid, which supposedly makes your dreams more vivid - awesome if you’re dreaming about riding a unicorn to a magic pond at the end of a sweet rainbow. Less awesome if you are dreaming about someone dragging you away from a crowded marketplace and you’re too terrified to scream. I woke up hyperventilating once. Did I mention the Jew anxiety, folks?
Now I know what you’re thinking - sure, lots of people had nightmares as kids! It’s super common. No big deal now, right? Right. Well. At the time of writing this post, I am 25 years old. And a half. Roughly once a week, I still have nightmares that cause me to wake up with a little gasp. I’m not really getting kidnapped anymore, but the post-apocalypse zombie world has been the prevailing genre for the last year or so. Usually I’m trying to hide somewhere or run upstairs faster than the attacking zombies, and just as one grabs for me, I wake up. Now I’ll admit, I‘m certainly never hyperventilating, and I can usually roll over and go back to sleep without much of an issue, but the waking itself is pretty inconvenient, and my poor subconscious just can’t seem to get away from those zombies. It blows.
Total Inability to Nap
I know this can kind of be grouped with the first category of general insomnia, but it’s so annoying that I felt I had to hate it in its own paragraph. Napping, from what I hear, is a sacred ritual in which one can catch up from sleep lost the night before. One merely lies down in the middle of the day, and falls asleep for awhile! They then wake up and continue about their business, going to bed later that night as usual. HAH.
So, first of all, my body is somehow not designed to fall asleep during any sort of daylight hours. Even if I’m in a pitch black room, it still knows. It knows there’s light outside and that it’s not normal bedtime! This is the case even if I’m completely exhausted, usually thanks to not sleeping the night before (see above re: inability to fall asleep). I can be about to nod off all day, drag my ass through until it’s an appropriate time to nap, then lie there and suddenly be incapable of sweet blissful sleep. Why, God? Why? I knew I was different on this one from the get go - my sister could be a professional napper, and spent many of her high school years practicing for the Napolympics. I hear they’re in Fiji next year.
On the very, VERY rare occasion that I do fall asleep during the day, it completely ruins my life to the point where I wish I hadn’t slept at all. First of all, whether I’m asleep for twenty minutes or two hours, I wake up basically incapable of human thought. I am so thoroughly confused about what time and day it is, why it’s light or dark out, where I am, etc. I am useless for at least another hour after napping, which kind of defeats the purpose most people use it for (getting some quick power sleep so they can burn through the rest of their day). Second, I can pretty much kiss falling asleep that night goodbye. Why Joanna, you fell asleep from 5:10 - 5:30 pm today? Seems like you’re good for the next 24 hours! Fuck you, body! I had twenty minutes and you keep me up til 3 am? What do you want from me? WHAT DO YOU WANT!?
Sigh. I know I’m not alone, and my sleep problems are probably not as bad as many people out there…but since I don’t care about them, I’m going to feel sorry for myself and write about it on my blog. The end.