Sleep robs me of my life.
I don’t mean to be overly hyperbolic (just appropriately hyperbolic). But I really do feel this way. It is a plague to me, a horrific affliction from which I suffer that renders me unconscious for about one-third of my life. I cannot create, I cannot be productive, I cannot educate or enrich myself, I cannot even nourish myself. For a block of hours every single freaking day, I am, essentially, a corpse.
For most of my life, my aversion to sleep was returned by sleep itself: I am, if left entirely to my own devices, an insomniac anyway. I would worry, I would plan, I would fantasize, and then worry some more, and all of that brain-churning would prevent me from entering a sleep state. There were times in my life in which I was nearly debilitated from lack of sleep.
I have almost no trouble getting to sleep anymore. Because now I have two small children and a fully-engaging job, and the exhaustion simply takes over. Sleep happens, whether I like it or not.
Until lately, I’ve been at something of a detente with sleep. I knew it would come, and it could pull the rug out from under my consciousness without warning, but at least it wouldn’t force itself upon me until somewhat late in the evening. Long after the children had gone to sleep, and even well after my wife had happily surrendered to slumber (she does not have an adversarial relationship with sleep as I do), I would stay up.
Doing what, exactly? It doesn’t matter, really. Mostly being alone. Perhaps reading, writing, dicking around on the web, maybe enjoying a podcast in the background of a game (okay, a marathon) of Bejeweled Blitz, whatever. The point was that it was my time. My precious, sacred, blessedly quiet, nobody-needs-anything-from-me time.
I have been clinging to that time, but I am losing my grip.
I am 35 years old. June 1 was my half-birthday, so technically, I’m now in my late thirties. With the children, the job, and the decay of my corporeal being, it is becoming apparent that I can no longer wage this battle with sleep as I have been.
Mornings, always difficult for me, are extremely difficult, as just the act of getting out of bed to care for my children (energetically awake at ungodly hours), is a colossal struggle. During work hours, I am growing ever-foggier, almost dizzy with sleepiness, and far too early in the day to chalk up to being “overworked.” In my after-work time with my family, which involves herculean efforts as it is, I am far too burdened by the weight of my fatigue. By the time my Paul-time arrives, I am spent. I sit on the couch like a pile of sludge. I have no energy to create, to write, to read — all I can do, really, is have something on TV. And even then, I drift. My grip on wakefulness, tenuous to begin with, is broken far too quickly.
I am forced, with deep regret, to admit that a surrender is in order. Sleep? You win. It’s like the Rock Biter in The NeverEnding Story, who, once confident of his standing within his particular domain, realizes he is helpless against The Nothing.
I’m going to have to check out of the day earlier in the evening. I don’t see much of a choice anymore. The detente is over. The enemy has advanced to the point where my only hope is to negotiate a peace so that I can at least have a modicum of sovereignty over my consciousness’s rump state.
I have to hope that the benefits will be palpable and quick to come. More wakefulness throughout the day would certainly aid me professionally, make me a better dad and husband, and generally make the day more bearable, less of a struggle, and more of a “life.”
But I can’t help but feel a twinge of panic over the hours I am bound to lose to the disease of sleep. Life is so goddamned short as it is. The days are so short already. Losing more of them to nothingness is kind of terrifying to me, especially as I get older. But I amolder, and my body clearly demands more nothingness.
Hopefully, for the remaining somethingness, I will be more present. I better be, or I will feel entirely screwed.