Well, it would appear that it’s that time of year again. The light’s back. It’s here early and it stays late. Which means, I’m up! Anytime. All the time. It’s exhausting. And I’m very tired of it.
Though, upon reflection, it’s not only this lovely bright sunny time of year when I find it difficult to sleep, it’s all the times of the year. Because there’s something in my tiny, pointy little head that just doesn’t want to sleep.
Once, I went nearly two months without getting a proper sleep. I tried everything. I’d walk for six hours a day, figuring that I’d eventually tire myself out. This was not the case. I just got sore feet.
Once it got so bad the doctor gave me sleeping tablets. Which worked for a while, but then I ran out and I wasn’t allowed to have any more, which was a cruel, cruel trick. And it made the insomnia worse.
When I’m in situ at The Mom’s I have a blackout curtain. It is the best thing ever in life. It makes the room as dark as a black hole. I trip first thing in the morning, and curse the stupid thing, but then I look at the time and realise that it is not Stupid O’Clock and I don’t mind having another bruise on my shin.
We got the blackout curtain at my insistence – and by that I mean, coming as it did when I was overtired, hot and cranky it was a high-pitched moan/whine kind of thing – and The Mom was initially against it.
“It doesn’t go with the decor!” she cried.
“I don’t see the decor when I’m asleep, thus, if this curtain makes the room dark, and cave-like, I will not notice I am sleeping in a room where the curtains don’t match anything.”
“I’ll know,” The Mom said.
“Will it cause you to lose sleep?”
“It might,” she’d say, putting on her best hurt look. “I went to a lot of trouble making your room look nice.”
“It looks very nice. Thank you. But I think we can all agree that me getting sleep far outweighs a pretty arrangement of fripperies and other notions.”
“It wouldn’t kill you to be more appreciative.”
“Actually, I think it might. It’s been days since I’ve slept past 4am, and at this rate, I’ll be seeing things out of the corner of my eye again, and that might happen when I’m driving your car. Therefore, I believe you’ll find this solution to be economical as well as sensible.”
“Couldn’t you just put the curtain up before you go to bed?”
“I AM VERY TIRED NOW PLEASE AND I WANT TO HAVE SLEEPY TIME NOW. I DO NOT WANT TO FUTZ ABOUT WITH A CURTAIN TWICE A DAY TO ADHERE TO YOUR RIGID IDEAS ABOUT WHAT IS PRETTY AND WHAT IS NOT.”
Duely chastised, The Mom took me out to the store where such things come from. She drove, obviously, not only because I haven’t a clue where such things come from, but also because, you know, falling asleep at the wheel.
My insomnia is maybe a bit different than most people’s. Usually I can fall asleep easy enough, it’s the staying asleep bit that I’m no good at. If I have to get up in the night for a pee break, that’s it. I’m up. Sometimes I can get another few hours in but they’re not quality. It’s more like a deeply unsatisfying nap. I toss and turn until my back hurts and I get up and make a coffee, convincing myself that somewhere it’s a reasonable hour at which to be awake.
A couple of housemates ago, my South African flatmate was also an insomniac like me. We’d bump into each other – literally – in the kitchen at 5am. Sometimes earlier, rarely later. We’d whimper at one another and try to make coffee, but we’re both a bit clumsy in our own ways – she with the hands, me with the legs – and so that was a dangerous time for us. We’d often return home to find the milk having been put in the cupboard, the coffee in the fridge, that sort of thing. Thankfully, the knives were very dull so we didn’t do ourselves too much damage.
Then I took things into my own hands and got us some Valerian tablets. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with insomnia this will seem ridiculous, but when you want to sleep more than anything, you will do whatever it takes. Valerian smells like feet, cheese and ass. So to take it you really have to want to sleep. It kind of works, but it makes your gut go a bit funny, so I use it as a last resort. Like, when banging my head against the wall for hours doesn’t help.
At The Mom’s you’re guaranteed to find somebody up when you are, be it late at night or early in the morning. T’was ever thus. The Mom loves regaling us with tales of how Crazy D and I used to get up at 4.30 or 5am to watch TV – even though it was only a test pattern. I think it’s just that, as a family, we can’t concentrate on anything for too long.
And since we’re good nappers – some might even say great – what would be ideal is for us to have a five hour nap at night, and then a four hour nap in the afternoons. We’re good first thing in the morning, and can usually rally in the evenings, so this is really the most sensible way to deal with things. I’ve no idea if we’d feel more rested, but there is something very good to be said for not waking up at 4.30am. And I will try almost anything to achieve that most holy of grails.