In truth, I kind of said it… or at least my character did in in the play, Farce This! But her human/real life counterpart feels the complete opposite. Sleep is a precious commodity, especially when you struggle with getting it on an almost daily basis. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t sleep at the most inopportune of moments. Anyone that knows me will tell you about my habit of nodding off... sometimes mid-sentence. I joke that you’re not truly my good friend until I’ve fallen asleep on you. The remarkable thing is that I’ll pop back up moments later as if nothing happened and I’ll recall everything that was said. In fact, it’s happened so often that my friends have affectionately named my behavior the “smile and fade”. Yeah, keep smiling buddy. That sleep is going to be short lived!
So yes – I CAN fall asleep. I’m the gal reading on the subway who nods off only to be woken up when the book she’s reading falls to the floor with a loud thud. I’m that person who passes out during the climactic part of a film. I’ve fallen asleep more than once in the dentist's chair during a root canal. I’m the party guest who has asked countless hosts at countless parties to lay down somewhere. It doesn’t matter how much fun I’m having or the riveting conversations that are going on around me. My body just shuts down and I need to catch some zzz’s. And I have the photos from multiple friends over the years to prove it!
The problem occurs when it’s actually appropriate to sleep… you know, at bedtime. I fall asleep almost immediately. I just can’t STAY asleep. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and lie in bed, sometimes for hours, waiting for sleep to come again. And there are times when it doesn’t. I’m a mess the whole next day, mad at the world and myself for having this issue. Apparently there is a term for what I have. We humans love to label everything and everyone, after all. It’s called “Sleep Maintenance Insomnia”. I feel no comfort in knowing its name. Putting it into black and white terms just makes me feel all the worse about it. It’s like a REAL thing. As I read more about it, I discover this condition occurs during times of stress. And since I regularly suffer from SMI, I guess they are trying to tell me I continually live my life under stress. Wonderful!
Look, I’m not saying I want to sleep for 10 hours a day. Even 6-7 hours of continuous sleep would be amazing. I’m at a point in my life where I recognize the value of sleep in order to accomplish my goals as well to enjoy the time when I am not. And I think the key is to find ways to eliminate stress—I know, a tall order for someone who lives in NYC, one of the most stressful places on earth, and who is pursuing a career in the arts. But if I can at least lower my stress during the moments directly preceding my dreaded bedtime, it might make a difference. So lately, instead of working up until the moment I go to sleep, I’ve been relaxing by looking at Facebook (something I hardly do), playing Sudoku or watching television (while not doing work at the same time). They're just ways to help me let go of the many “To Do's” that are continually dancing around my brain. I’m also considering whether or not to journal at night, right before I go to bed, as a way of dumping out all my thoughts onto the page and hoping they STAY THERE. It’s like an external hard drive for my brain. I can always reinstall those thoughts when I wake up—and in reality, they will probably reinstall on their own without me having to do anything!
I’m not sure how any of this will work, but I’m going to give it a whirl and I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m just tired—no pun intended—of telling myself that this is just the way I am and there’s nothing I can do about it. Whoever said “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is an idiot. I want to sleep NOW! And clearly said idiot never had a problem sleeping like I do. And as the time is drawing near to go to bed, the only thing left to say is "Sweet dreams" (fingers crossed)!