“He who sleeps, his future sleeps as well,” roughly translated from the vernacular, is what my father used to say every time I fell asleep too early, usually before dinner, as a child. As well as, predictably, when I found it difficult to wake up on school mornings. I wouldn’t say it was very effective, except by repetition, for I had no conception of the future at such a young age, sleeping or awake. I believe Dante said something similar, except the phrase he used, again translated, was “awaken fame.”
Fame, or a moderately pleasurable future, are not what I have ended up with. In fact, I developed insomnia pretty early, resulting in chronic fatigue, vivid, horrible dreams, headaches and other perks, like puffy, dark circles around my eyes. “To die, to sleep,/ To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,/ For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,” as said by a suicidal prince, commissioned by his father’s ghost to kill his uncle, i.e. Hamlet in Hamlet. While I’ve faced sadness, loss, difficulties, nothing so severe has happened to me. And yet, I spend night after night contemplating some of the most famous words in literature, as if they were written to embalm those to whom sleep is never kind.
It is, sometimes. I love falling asleep while reading a book on a holiday, especially during the day or afternoon. It is only good for twenty minutes or so, as a nap, and not for the rest of the day. There is something pleasurable about it though. As if, sleep was something of a pleasure of its own, and not a compulsion that cannot be earned, despite my best efforts, on other days.
The rest of my individual history with sleep is too long and complicated to describe here. I might even end up feeling tired by it. And even if I would have talked about it, it wouldn’t actually help me fall asleep. As a child, I wouldn’t have expected the correlation I’d come to make between sleep, the future and the future amplified = fame. The future has been sleep-deprived, but there is no success in sight, only ageing cells, and a brain unable to remember things because of lack of sleep.
It is like ‘the chicken and the egg’ conundrum – which came first, the sleep-deprivation or the anxiety? Am I awake because I am anxious, or am I anxious because I am awake? Which one should I try to solve first? My doctor had given me a pill to solve both, with some anti-depressant properties thrown on the side in the same miracle pill, and I ended up sleeping for, more or less, three days. I decided not to take medicines for any of these things since then. Science was clearly too efficient in this case, and I needed something humbler, and more accurate.
That accuracy will never be achieved unless I have an entire shift of personality, a sweeping change of world view. That is, I’d be able to sleep better if I wasn’t me.
What kind of a sleeper are you? Can you suggest any remedies for the sleep-deprived?