My body can be quite the practical joker sometimes. One of its favorite pranks has been to, starting around eight or nine at night, destroy all feelings of energy and productivity. Like a passive aggressive busboy stacking chairs to remind patrons that it’s closing time and they need to get the fuck out, my body tells me that it’s time to call it a night. I lose all drive to do anything. Even watching television sounds like too much effort. I try valiantly to fight it, though. I’m 21 years old, damnit! I have things to do! I have books to read, stories to write, social functions to grace, secret lairs to construct! I’m too young to be feeling this kind of fatigue!
In every case, I tough through it. I keep myself awake and alert through any means necessary. I walk around, listen to upbeat music, light small fires on my body, whatever it takes to keep me awake until whatever project I have for the night is finished. Even so, it’s a struggle. Even a slight drop in focus leaves me open to sleep’s perverted advances. Once I’ve taken satisfaction in my reading/blog post/handmade Jell-o busts of Gary Busey’s face, I finally give myself a pat on the back and head to bed.
Ah, slumber. The just reward of good work. Oh, sweet relief. The unconscious meditation in which the body and soul can rest and recharge. I’ve earned this.
OK, seriously? What made me more alert now than I have been since six? How is it that even my floor felt like an acceptable sleeping surface thirty minutes ago and now my bed feels like a doctor’s exam table? And why, WHY, FUCKING WHY WON’T MY BRAIN SHUT THE FUCK UP?!?!??!
Thus begins the nightly ritual of Corbin’s sleep in which I change position every fifteen minutes, go get a glass of water every forty five, and curse the heavens and an unjust God every other moment. Counting sheep, deep breathing, and muscle relaxing techniques all eventually take a backseat to silent self-loathing and fury. And as my brain feeds off of negative emotion in the same way that plants turn sunlight into food, the cycle continues indefinitely.
Years of this problem have taught me that there is absolutely nothing I can do at this point. I can only toss and turn until my body grows bored of this little game and lets me fall into a shallow thing that could be called sleep if it wasn’t interrupted every hour by a disturbing noise or a bizarre dream that is forgotten almost immediately upon waking.
Once the morning rolls around, I’m subjected to a terrible set of choices:
If I Wake Up Early (Defined as anytime between 8 AM and 945): I will spend at least two hours in a dazed, zombie state in which I have no emotions and am completely incapable of human interaction. If I awoke to a Manson-family-style massacre in my home, I would simply step over the bodies and dully hope that nobody got blood in the coffee. After a series of heroic doses of caffeine, I can rejoin humanity for most of the day until sleep deprivation renders me tired by seven o’clock.
If I Sleep In (Defined as anytime between 945 and 1145): My brain becomes a scolding mother. “You lazy piece of shit!” it shrieks. “Might as well just sleep the rest of the day, since you’ve already pissed away half of the day. Are you happy that you’ve wasted what could have been the greatest day of your life? I’m ashamed of you.” It will take several hours before I can convince my body and mind to reconcile so we can actually get on with the day. This continues until around seven o’clock, when I start to feel tired again anyway.
Note that I did not place any time past 11:45 on this schedule. That’s because if I were to ever sleep in that long, I fear that my brain may actually pack its bags, leave a tearful goodbye note, and leave to find someone that could better satisfy it.