On bodies and sleep

I noticed this morning that a lot of my internal narrative doesn’t make sense unless I consider my body a separate entity heavily linked to my self rather than part of it. I hesitate to brand this behavior healthy or encourage others to imitate it, but it seemed worthy of a blog post.

Last night, for example, I characterized my body as throwing a toddler-esque temper tantrum. Like a small child, it stubbornly insisted through the giant yawns that it wasn’t sleepy, I couldn’t make it sleep! I could, being firmly in charge, force it to lie down and even close its eyes. Stubbornly, however, it refused to sleep, insisting it was time to go do things: playfully flirt with my partner, pee, work on projects in my head, pee again, et cetera. My body ached with exhaustion but it refused to quit and let me sleep.

(Incidentally, changing to the “coffee replacement” mate tea over the caffeine-free roobois chai I’d been enjoying has done wonders for my work performance, though.)

As this is not the first night this behavior has vexed me, I tried to work through what could be wrong. The lights were just as off as last week, the sounds just as quiet. I had a bit of pain in my neck and shoulder that I chalked up to tossing and turning the night before, could that be it? Eagerly, my brain tried to get in on this new game we were playing. It offered up the following clues:

  1. My neck hurts.
  2. The commodore insists this quarter’s earnings are below the projected income adjustment.
  3. ???
  4. Profit
  5. Therefore, it was Mr Jenkins the Caretaker in the garden shed with the trowel.

This sleep-deprived rambling made as little sense at the time as it does under the light of the sun. Still, pleased with itself, my brain went about trying to devise other scooby-doo scenarios for me to solve — entirely the opposite effect I was trying for.

Eventually I must have fallen asleep. I know this because I recall dreaming that it was 3am, I had to be up at 5am, and I was still not asleep. I could tell it was a dream, however, because I was in my childhood bedroom talking on my childhood laptop rather than curled into a ball in my larger bed thinking murderous thoughts towards my partner and his snoring.

Five thirty AM rolled around, as it did. Instantly, my body switched gears. It was so EARLY! That hadn’t been NEARLY enough sleep! That was CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT! The whining was accompanied by a stubborn refusal to achieve a fully waking state that persisted through the smells of breakfast (or rather, lunch, as breakfast today was cold but my packed lunch was hot), the light being turned on, and repeated shaking and cajoling by my partner (who, by the way, is a godsend in the mornings. Seriously. I am the antithesis of a morning person, I wouldn’t make it to work every day if I didn’t have him to take care of things).

None of the above makes sense if you assume the same agent is attempting to get sleep and preventing it. It begins to sound like a serious mental issue if you say things like “I tried to get to sleep but I couldn’t convince myself to actually sleep, no matter how badly I wanted it. No reason, I just didn’t feel like sleeping while at the same time desperately craved more sleep.” But then, I suppose it’d be more helpful in the diagnosis of the issue (still clueless, by the way. I don’t drink caffeine after sundown, and in fact had drank no caffeine at all that day; I had spent the hours before bed almost dozing off on the couch while a movie played in the background; I had adjusted the temperature multiple times; I hadn’t eaten anything unusual or drank excessive amounts; I’m not even that stressed out for me).

The dichotomy comes naturally to me after so long living in this body. I am ashamed to admit I hate my body and all its failings. After years of trying, I’ve managed to mostly feel pretty okay about its looks, but damn does it function badly! Pain has become a daily constant, my stamina might as well be non-existent, even my hair refuses to stay in place after I dump half a bottle of gel on it which is technically a looks thing but I’m on a rant here. I’m slow, I can’t do the things I need to get done, even driving hurts after a while. With the not sleeping thing, I’m ready for a new android body any time they’re ready.

I just want to feel GOOD for one damn day. But I’m beginning to think I never will. That I should settle for “not in so much pain I can’t move” and “Reasonably able to carry out trivial tasks”. As someone who has always been a bit of a perfectionist, this is difficult for me; it feels like giving up. But what else can I do?

Sorry today’s post was pretty depressing. Tomorrow, more TPD; I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to this weekend’s tea tasting.

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