Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sleep anxieties?

For as long as I can remember, dating back to childhood, I’ve had this *particular* anxiety about falling asleep.  Scratch that.  What was once willful youthful resistance to ending my day, eventually morphed into a full-blown complex.  Don’t get me wrong; I love to sleep, in and of itself.  I’ve always been a lazy bastard that way.  It’s just that growing tired and weary-eyed has seemingly made others upset with me my whole life.  It always starts with the parents, and their insistence you go to bed right now.  “But I’m not tired”, I say.  “You’re falling asleep”, they counter.  “I’m thinking, and resting my eyes”, I insist.  Why did we never want to go to sleep?  Was it because we thought we were going to miss out on something?  

By the time I hit young adulthood, I no longer had to worry about my parents.  Hell, I didn’t have to worry about my roommates either.  They didn’t care if I passed out in the living room.  But keeping a job was very important.  Why didn’t the majority of my roommates at that age feel the same?  Why was I the one dragging myself to work early in the morning; every morning, every week, every month, and every year?  I’d had roommates at that age that couldn’t muster getting up at 9:00 in the morning, walk a mere 2 blocks, and start their 10:00a.m. shift.  Yet there I was, either hung over, exhausted, and/or sick; and I was still going to work.  Maybe the desire to get enough sleep wasn’t what defined me, but going to work was.  It’s what I did.  Just like back in high school.  Kids of this generation can’t even seem to skip on by without having to resort to getting their GED by the time they’re 25.  When I was a teenager, going to school was what you did.  You didn’t question it, you didn’t resist it (well, not much).  You just did it.  Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t a dummy by any means.  I was (hope I still am!) fairly intelligent; but was one hell of a slacker.  Not much personal guidance, I guess.  Anyhow, it’s not that I looked forward to going to school; it’s just that going to school was my “job”.  It was expected of me.  In 4 years of high school (yes kids, high school was only intended to be NO MORE than 4 years!  Whoulda’ thunk it?), I missed only ONE (1) DAY.  That was my freshman year; and my mother MADE me stay home sick that day. 

Anyhow, back to my sleep “peculiarities”.  Eventually came marriage; and sure enough, the same pestering about staying up past your expected bedtime.  But if that wasn’t enough; eventually I developed severe sleep apnea.  When I say severe, I’m doing a major disservice to the term.  Quite frankly, I shake walls; and my body hasn’t reached deep sleep in perhaps 15-20 years.  Eventually I developed minor tremors; though I don’t know if it’s associated with such major loss of bodily rest.  Despite my chronic snoring, and my lack of bodily rest, my sleep anxieties didn’t really impact me during this period.  Married, raising kids; 14 years of family life.  My snoring?  It was the running joke in our family; fodder for the wife and kids to always crack wise with.  Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?  Ha-ha, dad snores. But after the marriage ended, it was time to re-enter the dating scene.  We were married long enough, to where I didn’t even so much as think about my snoring anymore; but I was soon to receive some reminders.  

It started off humorously enough.  “Wow.  I’ve never heard anything that loud in my life”.  This started the revolving door.  I had a girlfriend however that loved me so much, she resorted to drinking heavily, just so the snoring wouldn’t drive her over the edge.  Great.  Alcohol abuse, preferred over sleep deprivation.  After we eventually parted ways, this is when the *complex* kicked into high gear.  I went through a year-long period wherein I dated more women than can simply be imagined.  Bartendresses, cocktail waitresses, musicians; even roller derby girls.  In retrospect, they were all women from some sort of nighttime role; and this is where I started my campaign of existing on 2-3 hours of sleep (at most) every night.  You see, I was 43 by this period, and I was (perhaps) sub-consciously fearful that I was running out of time; so I stopped sleeping.  When I would meet somebody new, I was dreadfully fearful that my chronic snoring would out me as an undesirable; so I figured out a way to keep myself from falling asleep.  Scratch that; I didn’t figure it out, I was just plain old scared.  As soon as we’d hit the sack, I’d sit there wide-eyed, trying to resist.  Eventually, fatigue would take over; but as soon as I felt myself starting to breath heavy, I’d instantly jar myself awake again.  I did this, off and on, for over a year; some nights without a single wink of sleep.  But I was in the zone, whatever that is; I managed to work and function without sleep.   But now that I’m pushing 50, I find that I’m just getting tired a lot.  Perhaps it’s because of the dark winters up here, or perhaps because it’s just been a loathsomely depressing year; but I find still have that same anxiety about going to sleep.  Heck, even when I’m by myself, I’ll find that I won’t even take my boots off before lying down.  Now that’s just outright strange.


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