I have a waking dream.
I have an obsessive fantasy. I dream of sleep, I wish for it compulsively. I find my thoughts turning toward the idea of sleep over and over again, before I can catch them and stop them from crowding out anything else. In the commute, at work, at the market, at my children’s sport functions, while writing and talking: I am secretly plotting how I may get some sleep. I am addicted to the notion of it—to the concept that there are some who get their fill of it, can have it whenever they want or need, who are satiated with it or who somehow have, almost unbelievably, too much of it.
I have never before been a jealous person, but I find I am suddenly overtaken with envy when imagining those who have sufficient sleep. I blink, not understanding, at social media posts declaring that one is “bored.” Bored? Is someone stating that they have nothing to do? That, in fact, they are not even considering sleep as an option in such a phenomenal circumstance?
I do not remember what it is to be bored, and I do not remember what it is to be rested. I do not recall having adequate sleep, not once, in nearly 15 years. I do not know what it is to sleep “soundly” or bound out of bed, reinvigorated.
I am an insomniac, and I am a mother. These two facts have placed me squarely into a box marked with the term “perpetual exhaustion.” The experience of sleeping, in itself, is a fascinating topic to me. Some people lie down and fall—without pills or alcohol or mantras or deep breathing or rituals—asleep! Some people do not take hours of thinking about sleep to go ahead and experience it. I am painfully aware that, at any given time, all around me are people who slept the night before without the angst and turmoil that comes with overwhelming fatigue accompanied by an inability to fall asleep.
I want to fall asleep easily. And then, I want to sleep until I wake up naturally—no alarm clock, no phone call, no child standing at my bed stage-whispering “mom? mom!”
I want to have nothing planned for the day—except, perhaps, more sleep.
Things I hear: “You look tired.” Yes. Because, you see, I am so tired. I look the way I feel.
“Do you ever nap?” Yes, I try to. It’s rarely a successful enterprise, and I hoard my rare opportunities to lie down during the daytime and rest. But it is invariably “rest” and not “sleep,” and I will attest that these are different things.
“Have you talked to a doctor?” I don’t want to answer this question ever again. I never want to talk to another doctor about this issue. The pills, the well-meaning yet condescending advice (take a warm bath, drink warm milk, try Yoga)—I have tried your remedies and tonics and infusions and I am too tired to finish this conversation.
I have a recurring dream. It is to sleep. To sleep and sleep and sleep and fill my cup with it, to recline in it, to wear it over me. To sleep a deep and curative sleep. To sleep so well that this dream is finally, finally put to rest.