Sleep, Perchance to Sleep

In Brief / Personal History / Women

I am not sleeping well.

I don’t mean for this to sound grandiose. While there are plenty of things happening in the world to keep me up at night contemplating, this is not, as my mother would put it, a wrestling with angels scenario. It is merely that I put my head on the pillow, turn out the light  and experience what I can only describe as a 5-7 hours of the least restful sleep imaginable. And I say this as a person who once literally fell asleep at a metal show.

It’s not conventional insomnia. I can fall asleep. I usually do, but it’s that my new dream life is kind of like walking from train car to anxious train car  and in between I wake either sweating in some Satan’s Own yoga pose, heart racing, suddenly, irrationally convinced that the rain storm will definitely shatter the skylight in my bathroom and the house will flood and the floors will collapse and BLACK MOLD and I cannot possibly afford to refinance this bastard again with these interest rates, no way, buddy, no how. And then I manage to contort myself into another different position, go back to sleep, have an elaborate stress dream about not being able to find a bathroom at one of those multiple band reunion concerts (this one with both Styx and Pearl Jam) in a Mexican-themed casino food court because it’s the only way I can get a ride home because my car has been towed and I wake up again freezing and some upside down position concerned that the slight discomfort in my lower abdomen means I have cancer that probably came from a mole that I still haven’t made an appointment to get checked out and it’s definitely spread and hold up, my car is in the driveway because the garage door is broken and what if I left the windows open. It’s lightning out and 4am, but should I go check? Would a good person go check? Am I bad person?  I just put another pair of shiny gold sneakers on my credit card. That feels like a bad person move. Squunch up under blankets. Drift off fitfully Have a weird stress dream about actor Michael Sheen trying to train me to be alumberjack, because it’s the only job I can get, but in Welsh. Wake up sweating. Rinse. Repeat. Until I finally wake up, exhausted, but weirdly relieved that I don’t have to try and find this relaxing again for another 16-18 hours.

This has been going on for  about ten days straight now. You want to ask about my caffeine habits, go ahead. I’ve tried cutting it out. I’ve tried cutting it back. Ditto alcohol. Ditto eating after certain hours. Ditto screens. Ditto reading upsetting or uncomfortable things before bed. Ditto breathing exercises. Ditto meditation (I am really, hilariously bad at meditation). I get plenty of exercise. I eat pretty well. Melatonin seems to make it worse and anti-anxiety drugs give me enormously unpleasant hangovers. I keep thinking the problem is structural. Like maybe if I had better pillows or a new mattress. What are even good pillows? And why are they suddenly more expensive than those gold sneakers I put on my credit card? The latter anyway is a lot of money to spend on a hedge, and my current mattress is barely five years old.

I tried talking about my mother about this and her advice was extremely depressing. The truth is you’re probably not going to sleep well for the rest of your life. Really? That doesn’t seem fair. This came on so suddenly. I used to be a person that could easily drop off. I couldn’t wait to dream. Now, I dread bedtime. Dread it. Dread it even more than I did when I was a kid and worried by sleeping I might miss something cool.

““You don’t need to worry about it. It’s nothing serious” said my mother. “It’s probably just your hormones.”

I’m at the age of reverse puberty, as a biological woman. Much like actual puberty It’s an age which no one, having lived through it once, is keen to revisit.  Both are predictably unpredictable, embarrassing, unflattering, and defined by a particular kind of Trouble with a Capitol T that rhymes with E and that stands for Hormones. The first time around the hormones give you all kinds of wild, electric feelings that make you do stupid shit like write a lengthy short story about a barely fictionalized version of yourself and the  boy you have a crush on and give it to him in public because you think it will make him love you. The second time the hormones give you all kinds of wild, electric feelings that make think you’re having a nervous breakdown or dying of a terminal illness (both at the same time) or stress dream about actor Michael Sheen yelling at you in Welsh, or fake dream subconscious Welsh, because you don’t actually know any Welsh and seriously, why Michael Sheen? I haven’t seen anything with him in it recently.


I’m not tired right now, but I’m cranky. I’m cranky because I would like to sleep tonight. I would like to fall into pillows and stay put and not sweat and maybe, just for once, not remember exactly what I dreamed.

The Author

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