Pandemic Day 156: Sleep, Interrupted.

The night before last I dreamt that I was preparing to go on stage for a ballet performance. Everything seemed normal except that all the supplies I needed for the performance that evening were spread all over the city. Each individual cosmetic item, tights, pointe shoes, warm-up clothing, hair brush, hair nets, bobby pins—everything—It was all hidden somewhere separately. In typical nightmare fashion, cell phones didn’t seem to exist, I moved very slowly and I didn’t have a bag in which to collect all these items. I just kept methodically finding them and carrying them around in my arms. As a result, I kept setting one or another item down and then having to find my way back to where ever I thought I had been to retrieve it. Time kept passing, it was getting darker, the time of the performance loomed ever nearer but I was never any closer to the theater. After a while I started noting the time, looking at the darkening sky and feeling frantic. Still, I hadn’t collected all the necessary items. I began trying to decide which pieces were really necessary. In a pinch, I thought, I could go on stage without make-up, but tights and pointe shoes I couldn’t do without. Show time was ever closer and I was never any closer to being warmed-up or prepared. What we were performing? Where? I have no idea. I haven’t been on stage in almost a decade. A stage dream, so many years later?

The next night I didn’t dream at all. Mostly because the way I figure it, I never fell asleep. At first it was typical—I stayed up late reading a book (The Swerve) about a book hunter and the fall of ancient Rome and Greece and the effect religion and paganism had on the loss of influential books of the day. It’s fascinating but maybe it is more stimulating than bed time reading should be. Just when I wanted to close my eyes, Little Bean cried (as she has been apt to do for the last few weeks) talking in her sleep with a bad dream. Her bad dreams are always a bit funny–That’s not the right toothbrush, she’ll shout out, very distressed. Or, But I am still hungry! This morning she talked about going into a cave all together but being afraid that a dog was also coming in, or was it a wolf? Whatever it was, she always wakes herself up and needs to be tucked back in.

After my husband’s snoring made it difficult to fall asleep I went downstairs to try the couch, where instead of falling asleep I decided to read a terribly depressing article about Dairy Farmers in Wisconsin. (A state I lived in for 5 or 6 months during college and one of the most unsung and beautiful landscapes in America.) The article literally made me want to get on a plane in the middle of a pandemic and go to Wisconsin and buy all the milk. It made me want to walk around knocking on the doors of every small independent farm that still exists and give them all my money. Isn’t it true that plenty of Americans would pay good money for milk from small, family owned farms? Wouldn’t that be enough? I wondered. The article didn’t really offer a solution or make it clear whether one candidate or party would make things better for these farmers. It made it sound like the house is burning down and that one candidate is going to make the burning relatively peaceful. He’s going to smile and be empathetic and keep you safe while the heat from the flames keep you warm. The other is going to scare you to death, bring to you tears and burn you with it- but either way the house is burning. I guess I wouldn’t recommend this article for the faint of heart.

To make matters worse, I began a conversation with myself about whether or not I had contracted the Corona Virus last week at a sushi restaurant. I read somewhere that headaches are a symptom, I worried. Then I thought about all the people I’ve seen since then. I’ll have to tell them. Was the sushi really worth it? I scolded. No, I responded to myself. Then I thought about my kids and Thorsten, Surely they are already infected. That’s probably why they aren’t sleeping well. But no one has called from the restaurant to say that anyone has tested positive, I continued, more hopeful. But maybe they are all like me, I argued back–Just haven’t gotten tested.

The minutes and the hours ticked by like this. I wondered whether or not I had properly closed the gate at the top of the stairs. Maybe one of my little night walkers could errantly fall down. Somehow though I didn’t get up to check. Instead I lay there listening for them. Each time I heard a snore or a breath my brain would say, Yep, you heard that. You’re still awake.

What is this? Did I drink my afternoon coffee too late? Is this anxiety? Insomnia? Old age? Menopause?! The possibilities seem endless. In this bizarre year there are a staggering number of reasons people could be experiencing interrupted sleep. So, I figure that maybe you are experiencing this too. Normalizing anxious insomnia seems good, so I thought I’d share.

It’s all normal I tell myself in the light of day. It will pass. But just in case, I’m skipping my afternoon coffee for today.

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