The Sandman's Black List
Remember that “righteous desires” post I wrote a while back? I was going to include my sleep habits in that list, but decided against it, knowing how hard it would be. But I tried anyway. And something is wrong. I am getting more sleep (by getting to bed earlier and watching what I eat beforehand), but I don’t feel any more rested. And I'm not so much tired of it (pun fully intended) as I am intrigued...
I have always been a night owl. And I have always used that term as a loving way to say, “I really don’t enjoy going to sleep.” Sleeping has always been a negative aspect of my life. It began with my chronic nightmares as a baby/child. When you hear someone say, “Sorry I’m late, I just couldn’t wake up,” an automatic laziness tag is attached to that person for that little detail. But when I hear a person say that, my response is usually, “I completely understand.”
I used to think I was, to a degree, an insomniac because falling asleep is difficult. But without fail, after I finally fall asleep, the feeling of insomnia dissipates and is replaced by something much larger.
But why do you think your sleeping patterns are so different and weird, Caty?
Well, let me tell you...
-When I lay in bed, I hate turning my mind off. But eventually, I realize I have to if I want to get the recommended amount of sleep that night. So off it goes. And on come the dreams. They start immediately, usually beginning with a hallucination of my body falling or tripping. They are vivid and most of them (usually the more exciting and/or frightening dreams) feel like memories in my mind. I remember colors, emotions, people, places, etc.
-And waking up is just the devil. Never in my life has waking up been easy. I can't remember a morning when I didn't wake up in the middle of a dream. And I can't remember a morning when, using an alarm, I didn't have to use the snooze button. Laziness? Maybe in part when I was a teenager. But what if a person shuts off their alarm unknowingly?
-When my alarm clock starts shouting, it usually manifests itself in my dream as a bomb, wind chimes, a grandfather clock, or a buzzer (like at basketball games when the quarter ends). Still in the dream, I find a way to shut the sound up. After a couple more alarms, my time perception arrives and I realize I am over sleeping.
Good morning, Caty.
-I lay there groggy and heavy-headed. I can't move yet. My body is still waking up. Now if I were to close my eyes and fall back asleep during this stage, I could adequately place myself back into the interrupted dream and continue where I left off.
That's my normal. Add a Tylenol PM to that mess and you get me zombie-style for the rest of the entire day. A mistake I will never make again.
-I could nap every day. The only problem is that I nap for hours, unless physically woken up. So I try to keep away when I can. But tiredness is an every day occurrence for me, whether shopping, working, reading, or worshiping.
I mentioned to a friend my wondering if I had a form of narcolepsy. They chuckled. No one ever takes the disorder seriously, with obvious reason... There was a boy I knew growing up who had severe narcolepsy. He was a football player. The common reaction to this story is always giggling. I mean, c’mon, the first thing you picture in your mind is a running back suddenly dropping to the field, snoring, mid-game. And sometimes, that did happen. But his was an extreme case (which resulted in many lost football games).
Here are the real barely-known basics of narcolepsy:
“In a typical sleep cycle, we initially enter the early stages of sleep followed by deeper sleep stages and ultimately (after about 90 minutes) rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. For people suffering from narcolepsy, REM sleep occurs almost immediately in the sleep cycle as well as periodically during the waking hours. It is in REM sleep that we can experience dreams and muscle paralysis which explains some of the symptoms of narcolepsy.”
“Excessive sleepiness during the day, alleviated by naps, is a symptom of narcolepsy. Dreaming during naps and experiencing dream-like hallucinations as you fall asleep are also warning signs. Loss of muscle control (called cataplexy) that occurs with emotion, such as laughing or anger, and the inability to move as you're going to sleep or waking up (called sleep paralysis) are also symptoms.” –www.webmd.com
The cataplexy/emotion part caught me really off guard. Because when I laugh to a certain degree, I lose most of my motor function. I can still move my arms and legs around, but I can’t use or control them anymore. I become super weak and fuzzy all over. I thought this was normal. Instead, I learned it is likened to being drunk. Fabulous.
So here I am, reading up on a sleeping disorder that I hope I don't have, but kind of hope I do have so the people in lab coats can fix me. Maybe in the future, sleep will be a positive part of my life. Maybe in the future, I will experience what most people experience at nighttime, in the middle of the night, and in the morning. Maybe in the future, the Sandman and I will make amends and hold hands and frolic in a field of daisies, laughing and catching butterflies. And it won't be in a dream this time.