Sleep

A kaleidoscope of adventures

As said before, I dream a lot.

It doesn’t take much for me to dream. I’ll fall asleep briefly, for a few minutes, and I dream about this adventure I have, with a hot air balloon, or a submarine and lasersharks (yes, I actually do dream about lasersharks).

I dream about plane-crashes — either with me on the plane or watching it. I dream about murder and death, I dream about zombies that eat my dog, I dream about swimming in a vast ocean with no rescue in sight. I dream about people chasing me, explosions, car-crashes. Murder death kill.

I don’t have to sleep anymore to dream. I only have to close my eyes and a kaleidoscope of adventures happens right in front of me. I’ll see a forest with bunnies, racing ladybugs, Batman (with or without Robin, filmversion or comic or both at the same time). It blurs into one big adventure and separates into individual storylines again.

I watch from a distance and then get sucked in. It feels like how I used to look into the water at the swimmingpool, and then, eyes open, dip my face into the water. Watching from a distance, and then getting sucked in.

Sometimes it spits me out, and I rudely awaken. Sometimes, I’ll float in there. In the kaleidoscope of adventures.

The line between dreams

I dream a lot. Usually nothing too bad, just ‘exciting’, like an over-the-top action movie.

Increasingly, I dream terrible things. Not necessarily nightmares, more emotionally taxing dreams. Most of it doesn’t scare me, no monsters or horrors. It usually involves people I care about dying or something terrible happening to them. I don’t wake up from those with my heart racing, I wake up crying. Tears streaming down my face, me trying to catch my breath. It feels awful.

The feelings last all day, sometimes longer. I find it hard to shake off that feeling. I find it hard to shake off any dream, the lines between them blur, and the one with reality. Sometimes it feels like I live from dream to dream, and reality feels… blurry. Just beyond my grasp.

What does that say about my sanity?

sticking to it

I try to stick to a fairly strict sleep schedule. It seems to help a little. I take more care in sticking to the nighttime sleep (from midnight to 8) than to the naps (an hour between 12 and 14, and an hour between 17 and 19). I need to try and stick to the naptimes more.

I think it helps to nap before I get really tired, before I get a sleep-attack. Of course, I can’t prevent the yawning (that’ll start an hour, maybe two, after getting up), but hopefully, I can smooth everything out a little. If I take naps, I have less automatic behaviour epispodes. I get less violent sleep attacks. I do, however, get more violent ones if I take naps for a few days and then skip them.

Once I get used to it, everything seems to get worse if I skip it.

So I fight it. I hate how I absolutely need it. How it chops up my day and makes me stop doing whatever I do and sleep.

I don’t like to sleep.

I used to love it…

fragmented sleep, fragmented life

Usually, I fall asleep quick. Sometimes a minute or two, sometimes it takes up to fifteen minutes, but it never feels like very long fifteen minutes. I’ll go out like a light, most nights.

And I dream, and then I wake up. Usually a stressful dream. I’ll need to catch my breath, calm down a bit. I’ll check the time and maybe twenty minutes have passed since I went to sleep.

The cycle repeats itself several times per night — until I get a few hours of non-clock time. I don’t feel I obsess about the clock, I just want to know if I should stay in bed, or maybe get up and have some tea. Does it — timewise — make sense to try and get some more sleep? Most of the time it does. So I stay in bed, eyes closed, unsure of how much sleep I get in that time.

My fitbit tracks some of this info, and only rarely does it catch my ‘awoken’ moments. I think it has something to do with not staying awake for very long. I’ll wake up and fall back asleep quickly. This may seem like something unimportant and not of much influence. But it does matter to me, and it influences me greatly. Those moments — brief and rude — rip me out of my dream, out of my sleep. They break into that important time where my brain might finally get some rest.

I don’t have this every night, most nights. Some nights worse than others. The amount of times seem to correlate to the number of sleep-attacks I then get during the day. The more I wake up during the night, the more times I zone out during the day and don’t know what I did.

Even on a good day I have several attacks of extra-sleepiness. I feel drowsy all day to begin with, and these attacks can come on so violently, so surprisingly. They rip bits and pieces out of the waking hours of my day. They destroy all possibility of seeing something through, of finishing whatever I started that day. I could try and plan around these attacks, and I did try. But when it comes down to it, I can’t really plan around it. I need all my energy and my fighting just to get through the day and do the bare necessities, like eating, walking the dog, buying groceries, personal hygiene. And just for the record, I don’t wear make-up and I don’t even brush my hair daily.

I fill the rest of my time with staring at the wall — or at least, I think I do, I usually have no or little memory of roughly 2 to 3 hours of my day. In between I’ll chat with some friends online — because how else do I keep up my social contacts? — and maybe do laundry or clear out the dishwasher.

My brain has reduced my life to bits and pieces, to a shell of its former self. It all sounds rather depressing. Good thing I don’t have the energy left to feel depressed about it.

didn’t even know I felt sleepy

It sounds so silly, that I didn’t know I felt this sleepy, but in reality, I’ve felt like this for so long I didn’t know it could be different. I still don’t really feel like it could (and maybe it can’t). I say I feel tired, and not up to do stuff. But actually, I just need sleep. A lot of it.

This only became clear to me recently, how much sleep I really want. How much I really need it.

I get cranky / moody when I need to sleep (or when I need to eat). My inner four-year-old comes out and DOES NOT WANT TO NAP. I have some difficulty with forcing myself to take the nap anyway. One side of me acts like the oversleepy four-year-old and then the other has to act all adult, and I don’t want to adult all the time. (Please don’t make me adult…)

I get obsessive when I need to sleep — and also when I need to eat (happens a lot). I usually snack and then nap.

Sometimes I feel fine one minute — or some form of fine anyway — and then suddenly, rapidly, I can’t stand on my feet anymore. I start swaying like a drunk person, sometimes more, sometimes less. My eyelids falling shut, my eyes rolling backwards. In my experience, others don’t notice it that much.

Others don’t seem to notice how sleepy I feel, in general. Sometimes I resent them for it, but honestly, I’ve fought so hard to stay awake for so long, I didn’t even know I felt that sleepy. I didn’t know that the fight going on inside my mind meant I had pushed myself too hard and too far. I have started to learn though.

I used to think more coherently. And I used to express myself more coherently too. Writing things like this takes a lot of effort, and a lot more time than it used to.

I wish my days had more substance. More fun. I get up, I eat, I walk the dog, maybe some groceries, maybe some chores, and I eat, and nap, eat some more, walk the dog again, and on a good day, I take a shower. And that doesn’t happen every day.

I don’t have a job, and I barely get by, energy-wise. I don’t exaggerate (much), and I don’t claim I don’t do anything. But it doesn’t feel like doing much. It feels like barely making it through the day, every day. Finding it hard to enjoy things, and not because I feel depressed (I think I’d know it if I had depression on top of everything else), but simply because I feel so sleepy and so tired.

And everything becomes a fight to stay awake.

one more

I went to bed last night, not feeling overly sleepy. Usually I try to go to bed when I feel like I could fall asleep right away, because I don’t wake up so much.

I got comfy, set my phone and tracker to ‘sleep’ (I track the hours I spend in bed so I can tell the doctor) and made myself comfortable. I dreamt about war and horrible things and then I suddenly found myself back home, looking at the sky from my balcony (except, the balcony faced east, mine faces south). I saw a spaceship passing by, with lights and concluding it must be the ISS judging from the speed — the subject of ISS came up the day before, not such a leap. It had the same shape as an actual boat, with the pointy bit up front and the flat end. And it had lights. Suddenly I found myself in my bed again, looking at my closet — I suspect I opened my eyes briefly and my brain wanted to make sense of it all. I had also started counting because I realised it could not have been the ISS, unless it was crashing. I counted because I wanted to know how long before it crashed. I got to 15, and then all the lights flickered, my bed shook violently, I heard the sound of explosions and screaming. Lots of screaming, very close to me, in my ear. I felt terrified and couldn’t move. I just stared at my closet, hoping no-one would come out (happens mostly if I don’t close the door properly), wanting to cry but couldn’t and generally just wanting it all to go away.

It took maybe a minute, the screaming and explosions only lasted a second or two, the light went back to normal seconds after that, and most of the ‘episode’ I just lay there, staring at the closet and felling terrified. I feel relieved no-one came to ‘get me’, something I’ve hallucinated before. All of this seemed way more violent than any of my previous episodes. I don’t like it.

After I moved, cried a little and woken myself up some more I checked the time. 37 minutes since I had started my tracker.

Didn’t feel like it.

I took a nap in the afternoon and slept a total of 11 hours today.

hallucinations

I have hallucinations with my sleep.

I’ve had them as a teenager, a couple of times per year, and now more frequent. More complicated. More worse.

Last night with the storm raging around my flat I decided I should plug up my ears. I don’t like doing that because the plugs hurt my ears when I wear them too often and it causes me to have stronger reactions to softer sounds the longer I wear them. I think I get more sensitive to sounds if I shield myself from it too much. That said, I do really need them when the BF snores (because that hurts my ears without the plugs). And last night, with the storm.

I know from experience that wind and stormy sounds trigger my falling-asleep-sound-hallucinations. I start to fall asleep and then suddenly, this noise happens and I think someone has broken my window and tries to get inside, when in reality, none of that happened. Just the wind blowing. These falling-asleep-hallucinations often consist of only sound. I think I hear someone call my name (my mother or my BF) and I wake up with a shock. Sometimes I think I hear the doorbell or the dog bark. Occasionally I feel someone tucking me in.

Last night threw in some interesting twists. I had the standard window-breaking and people yelling things at me. Actual yelling, I did not like that. And also someone or something shaking my bed. That hasn’t happened before, my brain seems to get more creative the less I believe.

I’ve had auditory hallucinations at least three out of the past seven nights, maybe four. I don’t remember, I should write it down.

I haven’t had any sleep paralysis with the really nasty hallucinations and I think those didn’t happen because I wear a sleep-mask. The nasty ones include Gollum on the ceiling (I don’t wear rings so why on earth would he stalk me…), someone in my closet, someone on my desk / chair. I wear the sleep-mask and I don’t see it when I wake up. But I still sometimes think someone got into my room. Without seeing them I just lie there, breathing, telling myself to wake up, trying to wiggle my fingers because they can’t see that and they won’t know I’ve woken up. Of course, by the time I can wiggle my fingers I have actually completely woken up and won’t find anyone in my room. If I don’t wear the mask, I’ll see them. I will blink my eyes and tell myself in my head to wake up. The blinking doesn’t really help, except for signalling myself I am sort of awake. Not entirely. I will try to speak or move, but can’t, and when I can, the person (or creature) has disappeared.

At first, these hallucinations scared me a lot, especially combined with the not being able to move. After a while I learned to check the dog. If I couldn’t hear her bark or react, or see that she kept on sleeping, I knew that I imagined it. That I just had to wake up more. They got less scary.

And then my brain adapted, by throwing in extra things. Whenever I can’t see the dog, I get these thoughts that ‘they’ killed the dog. Or I feel more things moving around on the bed. Or I feel like someone tries to choke me, even though I don’t see them near me. Sometimes I don’t see them at all but I can clearly feel a presence on or near me. Touching me.

But if I can see the dog, and see her sleeping, I know I have to ride it out. Keep breathing and try to wake up.

dazed

Last night I had trouble falling asleep. This doesn’t happen very often. BF snored as he usually does and the wax earplugs sat comfortably in my ears. It took a while before I realised my neck had turned cold and my joints ached too much to fall asleep.

I got up, went downstairs and took some naproxen. I also fetched my Buff scarf and wrapped it around my neck. Usually I do this when I go to bed, and obviously, this time I forgot.

Didn’t take long to fall asleep after that.

I spent 8.5 hours in bed, and had some trouble getting up.

My eyes do their gluey thing ever two hours or so. When I close them they seem to stick and don’t want to open as easily.