Sunday, February 19, 2012
13 Ways to Know You Need to Get More Sleep
1. Your dog nags you. Whines urgently in her throat. Come to bed, come to bed.
2. You find yourself saying, aloud, in a minute, just a minute. You keep tapping keys on your computer, your face washed in blue light.
3. One minute turns into ten turns into an hour and another. You’re searching for something but you don’t know what. So many voices out there, demanding your attention, so many things that can be done. The lure of websites that promise, just one more, this next page will solve everything, but you don’t even remember what you traveled here to solve.
4. By the time you do wrench yourself away, you feel wounded and confused, as if a little bit of your brain has literally torn away, shreds of it sticking to the screen.
5. You feel confused by the state of your house. Somehow, in the hours you spent online, the pile of dishes in the sink has grown, the trash has overflowed, clothes have strewn themselves on the bedroom floor. How did this happen?
6. You find yourself in front of the refrigerator, holding open the door, with no earthly idea why you’re there. You go to wash the dishes, but find yourself eating a bowl of cereal instead. And now you’re sitting in front of the television, watching a re-run of “The New Girl.”
7. You want to be a New Girl.
8. When you finally make it to bed, your dog looks up at you, her face a familiar mix of adoration and accusation. It’s a face that says, oh, you again, how kind of you to join us. A face that says grumpily, Where have you been?
9. Admit nothing. Just shove her over to her side of the bed. You’ve done this every night for years, but every night she acts as though it’s an affront. She sighs. She’s very disappointed in you.
You know things are bad when you’ve disappointed your dog.
10. Promise you’ll do better from now on. You’ll practice good “sleep hygiene” (as your doctor puts it); you’ll brush your teeth, drink a cup of herbal tea, turn off all screens hours before bedtime. You’ll do your yoga breathing. You’ll stretch a little, put on lavender-scented moisturizer, think only good thoughts. You’ll keep a tidy little dream journal by your bed, pen at the ready.
11. Instead, you fall into a fitful sleep, exhausted, as though you’ve been in a fight.
12. Your sleeping mind skims the surface, like a search engine, lighting here and there, dwelling in the places that get the most hits. You can’t settle. You wake too early, more tired than before.
13. You look over at your dog, who sleeps with her eyes open. She sees you but doesn’t see you. Her legs twitch. She chases something in her dreams.