“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I am tired today.  Scratch that – tired doesn’t quite sum up the complete lassitude of the limbs that I am immersed in.  I am sleepy.  Almost irresistably sleepy.  Sleepy enough that I have seriously contemplated closing my office door, leaning back in my chair, hooking a foot in my file drawer to keep from tipping over and catching a few winks.  When I sit immobile for any length of time this morning, that warm, relaxed, detached state creeps over me; that state somewhere between consciousness and oblivion, where I am only marginally aware of the sounds of the day around me, and far from caring about them.  I like to call it the “Sunday afternoon nap state”.  It is my favorite kind of not-quite-sleep.  I am not sure I have ever experienced bliss, but I think it closely resembles the feeling of laying on a couch in the warm rays of the long autumn sun, eyes closed, with nowhere to be, nothing to do, and the only sounds the faint white background noise of a football game on the TV, played very low.  I am sinking to a puddle in my chair just thinking about it.

I had a bit of a problem with narcolepsy when I was in college.  It didn’t really have anything to do with how much sleep I did or didn’t get the night before.  By and large I was not a late-night-partygoing kind of student.  And it didn’t require any length of immobility to occur.  To give you an rough idea of how serious this was, I once fell asleep while pushing a vacuum cleaner at the boutique where I worked.  Fell right down on the floor.  I fell asleep during the middle of a very spirited argument on the phone with my boyfriend.  Embarrassment doesn’t even come close to covering my pitiful attempts to explain how little control I had over the urge to sleep.  I would try to get up to walk around and wake myself up, but the net result was that I just fell asleep while walking in strange places rather than safe in a chair.  It was one of the myriad of reasons I ended up having to drop out of college in my first attempt.  I am only thankful I wasn’t a driver at the time.

The problem spontaneously resolved itself in my early twenties, but I still found myself needing to take one day, approximately twice a year, to sleep for 24 hours.  It’s as if my body is on some kind of compressed hibernation cycle.  I don’t take sick days from work.  I take sleep days.  Common wisdom will tell you that it’s not really possible to “catch up” on sleep, but I think that this is one of those cases where common wisdom is wrong.    While I don’t find myself falling asleep while walking down a flight of stairs (another of my infamous “episodes”), I know that when I get that compulsion to burrow down, resistance is completely futile.  No number of double-espressos and chocolate bars will counteract the urge to snooze. 

As I have aged, these 24-hour sessions with with Hypnos have become more infrequently necessary.  It has been a couple of years since I have tucked into my bed and set my alarm for more than the next morning.  But I am starting to feel the fuzzy, heavy-headed indications that my wakeful mind is gearing down for maintainance.  New job, new toddler, eighty thousand things left on my to-do list – perfect timing, as usual.  Might as well go change the sheets on the bed.

I have to take my child to Gymboree tonight.  Hope I don’t drop right in the middle of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.  That would be another $50 in the “Future Therapy for Harry” fund.

October 23rd, 2006 at 1:32 pm
One Response to “Between sleep and wakefulness”
  1. 1
    Jon Says:

    Well, if you find a way to catch up on sleep, please let me know!
    Up all night with a sick child,
    Jon