To Not Sleep, Perchance to Create

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I used to have worse sleeping habits. It’s a side effect of other medication that I can fall asleep pretty well now. When I had insomnia I would mostly just lie in bed at best in an absence of anything – no tiredness, no comfort, nothing but awakeness. At worst it would be related to inexplicable pain in my limbs.

Now, I can usually get 7-8 hours in on weekdays, and on weekends I lie in bed as long as I please, coming in and out of sleep for a couple of hours each morning. Rest is important, as scientific studies confirm and confirm again. But through the posting of thoughts and interactions publicly on the internet, I can see how much is passed around by insomniacs. There’s more to contemplate and more to create outside of a daily schedule. I’m not around when the good things happen, all because I’m getting a healthy sleep.

Beyond posting inane dribble on Twitter, there are the chances to interact with others in constructive dialogue. There’s the surge of ideas that can come with sleep deprivation (or can be the cause of it, chicken/egg) that can be put into action by creating something. I’m missing that time and those conditions in my life.

I’m sure if I were still an insomniac I would be thinking along the lines of Hamlet, with much smaller problems mind you, that I hope death, if not just pure nonexistence, is eternal sleep. In the winter months especially, approaching as the sky stays dark into the start of my mornings, I long for hibernation and sleeping for three months in exchange for longer waking hours for the rest of the year. Despite the obvious benefits to my health, I want to reject the standard schedule of balancing sleep and waking time in favour of extremes.

My thinking is clear, but my ideas are worthless when I’m well-rested and functional. If not the creative process itself, a lack of rest at least instills the delusion that my bullshit deserves to be put out there, that my opinions matter, and that my writing is good.

Caught Between a Phone and a Warm Place

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In winter I like to stay in bed. I like to lie under my covers at earlier hours of the night. Why stay up, in day clothes, sitting around doing nothing because it’s dark and cold outside? I used to stay up in my living room under a blanket on a couch on my laptop. Now I have a phone and I can do that all from bed.

Even worse yet, I have a shitty phone that as of late thinks it’s out of battery power randomly. Some things trigger that more quickly than others. Starting up the phone again is usually a big enough drain of power for it to think it’s dead again. Like so many things in my life – I am not as calm and even-tempered as the face my neutralized timidity puts on – I want to throw a tantrum and throw things around violently, screaming and crying and weeping at the injustice. But it’s just a fucking phone.

Worse yet, thinking that phone should always be working for me implies that I should always be doing something on that phone. The rusty and tarnished side of the coin of this ease of access to communication is its uses not being validated.

The phone works when it’s plugged in to charge. I have a charger cord sitting at the side of my bed. I plug it in overnight. I can rely on this device more when I’m lying in bed…but I can’t expect anything to come from it. It’s an inanimate device, a tool that means nothing without some purpose on the other end.

When I think that crawling under the covers earlier, to get warmer sooner and possibly (though not usually) better rested, is justified because I can bring in a mini-computer with me to continue entertaining myself and interacting with others – that’s dangerous. It’s a withdrawal from the day far earlier than necessary, all for what – playing games on a device so I can hold it hoping it will vibrate when someone sends me a two-dimensional, 160-character text? The warmth is a seasonal circumstance that will come every year; in fact, I wish I could hibernate through the colder and paradoxically darker and whiter months like so many other species do. The temptation to go to bed at early evening hours is a mild vice if one at all, but what I bring into bed with me makes changing into pajamas a dangerous choice. Am I going to bed because I’m tired? If so, go to sleep. Am I going to bed because I want to be warm? I can stay up doing healthier things like reading or quality testing of what’s technically classified as a medical device. If my phone’s fucking off and needs to be plugged in, I don’t need to go into bed with it. But at some point in the night, usually quite a bit earlier than in the ten o’clock hour when I’m writing this, I crawl under those covers and cuddle with something that can’t love me back.

I’m better kept up on a slightly more functional computer because of the opportunity to move my fingers more gracefully to create something that my trained hands make look effortless when connected to my stream of conscious – typing. It’s harder to abandon a thought when there’s an entire keyboard there; or rather, it’s easy to abandon a thought when only thumbs are involved and you have to depend on the kindness of autocorrect to get these thoughts materialized. There is no question that the option of climbing into bed so much earlier has deterred me from starting to write more here. What I would write here out of bed is probably of no importance, but I think I would be a better person, a wholer person, writing something than nothing at all. What doesn’t come to me or escapes translation in the awkward posture of lying down with a pen and a pad of paper that’s stained and distorted from coffee spills is missed opportunity. On the other hand, staying out of bed on a computer trying to write is a modern cliché of insomnia and I don’t need to add fuel to that fire. But I think it’s safe to say that not getting any sleep because of lying in bed playing games on a cell phone is a few rungs down in respectability of unrest.

Out of all things to feel on an alone winter night – well, almost winter at least – childish frustration at a modern marvel of technological convenience is one of the pettiest. Crawling into bed at 8:30 would be honourable if it weren’t so much about the phone.

Pain from the Past

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I had an insomniac throwback the other night, time passing awake and in pain just like it did over 20 years ago. My legs hurt from time to time in ways that can only be treated by a combination of heating pad, ibuprofen, time, and suffering. I was awake until one o’clock, and much like when I was a child I spent that time overthinking the unimportant.

When I was a kid I had fewer problems, on account of the precious naivete that makes things in compartmentalized colours (children don’t think in black and white because that gets beaten out of them in adolescence). Red was distinct from orange and orange was distinct from yellow, even though I knew colour theory since preschool art class. The digital clock in my room was an endless source of entertainment as I played with the digits in my head and waited to hit the buttons that made the ticking seconds appear so I would be awake to see 12:34:56. Now I’m not so amused by that. Now I have bigger problems to worry about. These bigger problems make the time kept up more stressful, but what hasn’t changed is the pain.

My legs hurt more often back then, in fact, and insomnia was more frequent with or without that pain. I couldn’t just lie still and fall asleep, especially not when there was a throbbing sensation with no rhyme or reason migrating from thigh to knee to shin on predominantly, though not always, my left leg. Sometimes I would have to scoot further down the twin bed to let my knee hang over the cold metal bar on the frame and have my leg autonomously kick out of general twitchiness and, I was told at one point, a very mild form of Tourette’s. Sometimes I would have to sleep on the floor. Sometimes I would have to sleep on the floor outside my bedroom with my face nearly shoved up against a vent. I tried sleeping in the bathtub a few times, or even more strangely on the bathmat or a combination of the two. I frequently tried lifting up the offending leg and propping it up against the cold wall. I don’t think I knew at the time the logic behind doing that, but now I understand the anti-inflammatory benefits of temperature and improved circulation. Every attempt like this to find a way to fall asleep, both in positioning and in counting minutes and seconds like sheep, didn’t actually help aside from brief soothing of the pain. I always had to go back into bed and sleep in a conventional position, for however much of the night was left.

Why this inflammation was happening at that age and why it’s simmered down since has never been a health issue I’ve explored. (There are just so many ahead of it in the queue of all that is wrong with me.) When I do get it now, I wish all that mentally came with extended consciousness into the wee hours was playing with integer numbers and compartmentalized colours (and the synesthesia that mixes it all). But those years built up the understanding of decimals, including the never-ending stream of 142857 in fractions of seven that blew my mind when I figured out why it’s ongoing. The categorical colour coding had to open up to ambiguous shades and the miniscule bothers of how the clothes hanging in my closet can never perfectly be arranged in a full spectrum gradient system. Not being comfortable in conventional sleeping positions has migrated to not being comfortable in conventional living positions. Perhaps these nights have become sparser out of necessity, shutting down conscious mental processes to not overwhelm.

Shutting down conscious mental processes is exactly what sleep is supposed to be. How I survived childhood with relatively little of it and yet still have a functioning adult brain is a curiousity. Was there lost potential in my cognitive growth because of it? What kind of groundbreaking discoveries or revolutionary ideas have been lost by recurring pain in one girl’s left leg?

To Sleep Perchance to Dream

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On that note, I’m going to shortly go to bed. There’s an all-night arts festival going on that surrounds my area – and drunk people shouting at each other, to come with – so if I wake up in the night deprived of my right to sleep I can walk down the street at any point before six in the morning. Chances are slim. I haven’t been sleeping well and tomorrow’s my only option to sleep in. The injustice, that the world is crafted to further reward those already healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Oh How I Wish

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I want to:
-sleep like a normal person;
-create more art; and
-scream about the bureaucratic nightmares that I see in my line of work that make me worry the very foundations of an employment-based economy are a few neglected communications away from collapsing society into a militant breeding of oligarchy and anarchy.

This list is neither permanent nor complete. I may get back into the sleeping groove with a prescribed dosage change and cooler nighttime temperatures. And some kind of lobotomy. Overthinking things should come with warning labels like packs of cigarettes.

Under Cover Stakeout Going into Overtime

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The other night I had a terrible sleep. Something’s wonky with the heat in my 80 year old building, so it was incredibly cold and I couldn’t fall asleep properly. Even though it was a Friday, last night I crawled under the covers at about 10:30, in snuggly warm footie pajamas, to curl up with a book for about half an hour. Then, like on a normal weekday, I turned the lights off at 11.

Like a normal weekday I woke up a few times throughout the night just to see where the temporal dimension was at. When it was just after 6, like a normal weekday, I was more or less awake but stayed lying in bed cozy and half-dozing off before the 7:00 alarm buzzed.

Yes, I leave my alarm on for the weekend. Here’s why: I get my best rest in lighter stages of sleep after first waking up. This is why I will sleep in every weekend, no matter when I went to bed the night before. Each Saturday I wake up again after turning off the alarm at about 8:15, and then at 9:10 when I usually get out of bed for breakfast. Then I take my breakfast to my bed and check things on the internet from my phone.

People who…believe, or buy into the “anti-establishment” position that working for an employer is giving up your soul to a miserable existence use as one reason that at a job with a set starting time you have to force yourself out of bed without actually being rested or actually feeling awake. Well stick your nose up and brand me a mindless peon, because that’s what I do during the week. Clearly this repeating pattern when I don’t have to get up at a particular time shows my mind’s internal schedule. But even those not bound by the chains of a day job have to get up and do some work eventually if they don’t want to be a meaningless vacuum of public participation (that’s right, them’s waging a war of words) and any time they spend sleeping in past 9:10 is costing them money. Eating breakfast in bed lowers their productivity. Even if I only get to do so on the weekends, at least for me it will always be a treat.

The Nightmare of Sleeping with Me

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I walk, I talk, I kick, I sprawl, I spasm, I drool, and when I’m sick I might even snore. I probably make a terrible bed partner, which is why I’ve hardly bothered to share.

(We’re talking about sleep sleep, people, although clearly this ties in with…)

When I have, for whatever reason, I typically consciously limit myself to the very edge of the bed and try so hard to mimic a straight and narrow rigor mortise. (This results in hardly any sleep and a buried resentment of my bed partner.) I envy those with similar unconscious habits who don’t care and make their partners live with it, but I haven’t encountered anyone close to as bad as I am.

I think the only way to get over this insecurity is to take the plunge and make somebody live with it. But I don’t enter relationships – at least, it takes a lot for me to want someone enough – so it would need to be worth the risk of scaring that person away. They would have to tolerate occasional bruises to the shin. Well, if they can live with all the other things odd about me, I suppose this is only another stick in the pile – or, perhaps more accurately, a Jenga block to remove. Sure, it could make everything collapse. But isn’t that the point of getting to know someone?