I’m a terrible sleeper. I don’t know why, but I just have never been able to manage it. I toss and turn and wake up several times a night – and of course I’ve gotten myself into the awful habit of automatically sneaking a peak at my smartphone every time I do. I occasionally suffer from fairly significant insomnia (due to stress), and it took me until my late teens to realize that it wasn’t normal to spend two hours trying to fall asleep every night. I still haven’t really quite wrapped my head around the idea that you can wake up feeling refreshed and energized after a solid eight hours.
This unrealized and unacknowledged problem led to a lot of miserable 6:00 mornings when I was in high school, and most certainly contributed to the general depression, pervasive ennui, and occasional rabid hatred of everything in the universe that plagued me throughout those joyous years.
It also made it difficult for me to be motivated about anything, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I never thought I’d ever be able to be a writer, even in my spare time, and have the wits, stamina, and fortitude to complete a full-length novel. It’s very, very hard to overcome lethargy and negativity when your brain chemistry is working against you, and a good night’s rest plays such a huge role in all that.
I still haven’t figured out how to make sleep happen, but my solution – my beloved, amazing, torturous, foolish solution – is to nap. There’s nothing more deliciously lovely than dozing off on an August afternoon with the windows open and the soft scent of the season on the breeze.
And there’s nothing worse than waking up in the dark, three hours later than you planned, feeling spaced out and groggy and not quite one of the living, knowing you’ve ruined your whole evening because you won’t be able to concentrate on anything and all you want to do is go back to bed.
The problem is that it’s impossible to predict whether a nap is going to work out for you or if it’s going to completely screw up your sleep schedule for the next three nights. It’s some magical combination of how tired you are, what time it is, how much sleep you got the night before, your mother’s maiden name, and the alignment of the stars sixty years and 6.45 days before the present moment. If anyone has a workable algorithm to determine it, please let me know. As it is, it’s simply a crap shoot.
For me, sleep is a little bit like genius: it’s elusive and it comes in flashes; it deserts me in my hour of need, and everyone else seems to have more of it than I do. Perhaps someday I’ll master it, but for now, I don’t mind the luxury of being able to nod off during these dying days of summer and take my rest where I’m able, even if it makes me the opposite of a genius sometimes.