Go to bed
But I’m not tired! Just 15 more minutes!
I have to finish the chapter!
These phrases were a cornerstone of my childhood. From me to my parents, protesting the highly unjust phenomenon of bedtime, to the children I babysat, avoiding their comforters with the skill and dedication of trained operatives.
It seems to be a universal phenomenon that children do not like going to bed.
And there are many explanations. Maybe we were afraid of the dark. Maybe we had nightmares. Maybe we didn’t want to miss out on anything. Maybe going to bed felt childish. Maybe we were just having too good a time awake.
Lately, I have been feeling a lot like my childhood self. I have found myself looking for excuses to avoid going to sleep. I think that one more hour won’t make a difference. I think that I really should empty the dishwasher. I think that I should see if my brother’s online, and available to talk.
When I finally do crawl into bed, far past the time that my eyelids began to droop, I drag my computer with me, huddling under my covers as I used to with a book, postponing that moment when I simply have to lie there in the dark, alone.
It’s unusual for me. I tend to love that special, uninterrupted time to think before drifting off to sleep. I love to go to bed early. I love to wake up slowly, to stay in bed as long as I can, to fall back asleep if I can.
But that’s no longer the case. I am avoiding sleep as much as humanely possible for someone with extreme fatigue.
And it’s understandable. Lately, I have been having terrible nights. I lie there, immobilized, shaking from the cold and pouring sweat. I slip between levels of consciousness, the lines of dream and reality blurring, frightening me. I wake up to severe pain, to overwhelming fatigue in my limbs, and to fuzzy memory with great confusion about what actually happened during the night.
Sleep has not been restful. It has not been rejuvenating. It has become a dreaded experience, that comes around at least twice a day.
And so, I have reverted to childhood. To dismissing the lure of a cozy bed despite rubbing my eyes and yawning.
Yet, there’s something a bit reassuring about all of this.
Because as I dread sleep, I cling to something else.
I cling to the state I prefer to be in, the level of alertness that I enjoy.
I stay up late talking and reading and watching and learning. And even when I finally turn off the lights and lie in bed, I spend hours thinking and dreaming and planning.
I like it.
I like being aware.
I like being awake.