My relationship with sleep is complicated. When we’re together, it’s great. I forget all of my troubles (real, exaggerated, or otherwise), I feel completely relaxed, and occasionally I hit the perfect amount of sleep and wake up feeling like a superhumanly energized (how I imagine yoga instructors to feel everyday).
But most nights play out more like a cliché romantic tragedy: I lie awake in the dark in my bed all night, longing for a sleep that never arrives.
I chase it during the day as well. I’ve started taking (or trying to take) more naps than at any other point in my life, and when I’m not actually lying in bed, I’m fantasizing about it. It feels a lot like those social interactions where one party’s desperation to connect turns the other one off completely. And the more tired I get, the more desperate I get for sleep, and you can see where that’s left me.
In between bouts of pitying myself for my lack of sleep, I’ve tried to figure out why I have so much difficulty getting it (as witty as my personification of sleep may be (or isn’t, but please just let me pretend I’m being clever), I doubt sleep is actively avoiding me—it must be my doing). I believe part of it (besides the excessive amounts of caffeine I drink at inopportune moments throughout the day) is my unwillingness to give up control. Sleep is the one time where I cannot voluntarily worry—and, as my anxious mind would have me believe, work through or prevent—all of my problems. As much as that is an absolute blessing for someone like me, it’s also a dramatic, almost scary alteration in my baseline mode of operation. It’s something that I can support in theory, but something that my habits refuse to allow me to do.
Perhaps the more I consciously recognize the consequences of my lack of sleep, and with it, the consequences of my high-strung mentality, the easier time I’ll have convincing my mind to shake off its habits and let me rest. Perhaps I need to start listening to scientifically backed advice like turning off my phone thirty minutes before bed and stopping caffeine consumption sometime in the afternoon and not two hours before I might sleep. Whatever the solution may be, I’ll have every night (and day, and any waking moment) to practice.