Wednesday, 24 February 2010
The Witching Hour…….
The hours stretch out into an endless procession of time that results in you checking your clock every five minutes in a disbelieving way, while your body tells you: Yep, still awake. While you’re here, what shall we go over in your mind now?
When I was a kid, sleep came easy. Though my sleeping position was a bit different, if I'm truly honest. I used to scrunch under the covers into the tightest foetal position going, unwilling to let any part of my body hang over the edge purely for the belief that if it did, a rotting cadaverous hand would reach out from the blackness beneath my bed and drag me into the space where the monsters lived.
I’m a 31 year old man and I still do this.
Seriously, I do.
Even at this age, I can’t let any part of my body hang over the edge of the bed, and even though I am old enough to know that monsters don’t exist (apart from Sharon Osbourne), I still have the night terrors engrained on my psyche from when I was young and stupid to have: Yeah, there are no such things as monsters, but I’m not fecking chancing it! running through my mindscape.
But in all honesty, the only monster I have to deal with during the night is insomnia. And it is a scaly and nasty beast that I am at a loss as to how to defeat.
I do sleep better when I am in bed with someone, but I only see Kates a few nights a week, so the rest of the time I am left to fight my demons on my own. When we are together though, we have a sleeping position that can be deemed a little odd. We have something that we call headlocks and basically consists of us spooning while I wrap my arms around her head and neck in what looks like a really poorly executed wrestling move. And for some bizarre reason we both seem to like it. Though what that says about our relationship where I can only get to sleep if I’m basically throttling her, I don’t know…….
But even with my girlfriend in bed with me, and us re-enacting the best moves of Bret The Hitman Hart, sleep is quite often unable to be found for me. So I normally spend a very lonely night lying awake next to my lovely sleeping lady (my lovely sleeping lady who can annoyingly drop off as soon as her head hits the pillow) and read by lamplight until the early hours.
As Kates is a light sleeper though, either the light from my lamp or the sound of me turning a page, or even the sound of me daring to take a breath, will rip her from her sleep and cause her to rise from the covers in a tidal wave of blonde hair (seriously, bed hair doesn’t come close to describing it. I sometimes feel like I have to brandish a chair and a whip at her, screaming “Back beast, back!” when she wakes up in the morning. And yes, I am going to die when she reads this. Painfully, and probably involving some form of blunt instrument to my testes).
She will blink at me with sleepy eyes, taking in the sight of my lying there, lamp on, book in my hand, and ask, “Are you still reading?”
Now there are many ways in which I can reply to this. My normal sarcastic side usually screams out in my head: No, I’m crocheting. What are your measurements again? But to be honest, a combination of tiredness and a fear of bodily harm prevent me from saying this, and I just normally shake my head and switch the light off as she cuddles up beside me, while I stare at the ceiling and wait for the birds to start singing. And if I finally manage to snatch a few moments of sleep, the alarm will then go off for me to glare groggily at it and scream.
Insomnia really affects you during the day though. As the days roll by, a lack of sleep presents itself in a deep seated weariness that you can feel in your bones. Everything becomes washed out and faded; all the edges are smoothed off from the world until you feel like a half drawn animation, struggling through your own personal cartoon.
Over time, if the body is deprived of sleep, it can do strange things. My coordination becomes sluggish, my reactions poor. I’m struggling to write this even now, as my sleep has been terrible for the last few weeks. I have to keep reading everything over and over again for fear of making mistakes. I always feel as if I am about ten seconds behind everything else as everything is dull and listless for me under the fuzzy cloud of tiredness.
As per the cycle of this shitty routine, after about three or four weeks, my body will just give up and I will just fall to sleep at the drop of a hat, regardless of place or situation.
I remember one time I came home from work, literally dragging my arse across the floor from tiredness. I was too shattered to cook so I ordered myself a pizza. When it came, I took it to my sofa and lay down. Within minutes of doing so I was asleep face first on my pizza, where I stayed until the cold early hours of the morning. When I awoke, I didn’t have a clue where I was and sat up with a pizza slice stuck to my face, looking for all the world like some cheese based Phantom Of The Opera.
Another time when this embarrassing incident took place was when I worked in a photo lab. I entered our darkroom to change some photographic paper. I sat down in the pitch black on our work bench and due to a combination of the darkness, the quiet, and the lovely warmth, I was asleep in seconds. It was only someone banging on the door about half hour later that woke me up. Sadly I forgot where I was and thought I had gone blind.
Wasn’t funny at the time……..
I can feel that time creeping up on me now. My body feels like a clapped out old motor with barely enough juice in the tank to make it another few miles. But I know what will happen, I will crash at some point, my body not able to go any further, and I will forcibly have a good night’s sleep, waking up the next day to feel like I have been reborn. Everything will take on a brighter hue, be sharper and more defined to my fresh eyes, and I will feel what it really means to have a good night’s rest.
And then it will start all over again.
I hate you insomnia.
Seriously, if you had nipples, I would really twist them until you started crying……………..