It’s 5:20 a.m. and I have given up on going back to bed. I don’t normally have any problem sleeping, going to bed, or getting back up. (Except in winter when it’s cold, and blankets are warm, but I don’t think I’m alone there). Lately however, I have been stressing myself out, drinking too much coffee, napping during the day, then being unable to get back to sleep, and before I knew it I found myself very sleep deprived. When I’m sleep deprived, things get weird.
It’s kind of hard to describe all these ‘weird’ feelings, but I’ve pinned nostalgia as one that seems to pop up more in this strange state. For example, recently I heard a song from the early 90’s, and immediately this wave of memories, these little blips of places and times that I don’t know if I’ve ever been to or just imagined as a child, came washing up. It makes me wonder how many “moments” I’ve had over time, with different people, and I wonder how many I actually remember. How many cool places have I traveled to, people have I met, and things have done that I’ve been absorbing with my senses all this time with my brain dutifully storing bits away for the moment it might be needed? (How many have I just made up? How many were images in my mind from books that I once read or t.v./movies that I had watched?) To liken the brain to an iceberg is one of my favorite analogies, that is, that our conscious mind is just the tip of the iceberg. Under the surface lies all those little bits of your day, sorted and stored while you sleep, sometimes popping above the surface as dreams, and sometimes remaining so far below that when you recall it you think you’re a psychic. Truly I just can’t comprehend all that, well, my brain can.
Going back to that feeling of nostalgia, there is one thing that I think contributes significantly to that generally infrequent feeling, and that is: unhappiness with current circumstances. If you’re not doing anything fun to be happy about, then perhaps the mind just lets you remember those times when you were happy about what you were doing. At this time in my life I feel a bit stagnant, like I’m not doing much with my time. I feel like I used to do more; at work I was productive, and made glass jewelry that I could be proud of, now I hawk consumer goods. I used to have a social life, now even though I feel generally more sociable and less shy, I can’t seem to find the time to to hang out with friends. This has led me to a lot of reminiscing, and that is well and good, but also sometimes sad. I miss times that will never be had again. I always seem to take time for granted, and think that somehow all the same people can just re-group at the same place and magically it will all be the same and I can do things better the next time around. I guess that’s what high school reunions are all about, but it just isn’t the same. People change, times change, and you can never get those experiences back, no matter how many times you watch silly videos, or look through old photos.
The other weird feelings I get from sleep deprivation include a long list symptoms that sound like they belong with prescription meds, including shaking, nausea, and headache. Not recommended, though when necessary it can be made to be rather fun. There is generally a very silly phase for me, followed by a cranky nap-time phase. (Note: stay in the silly phase as long as possible. Drag it out like it’s your job…it is the only part of sleep deprivation that’s worth a damn). This is generally when I want chocolate, and other junk food, but somehow end up with coffee. No, no, no. But then the coffee says, yes, yes, Yes. Then you think, good god, did that coffee just talk to me? I think I need some coffee. Hence the coffee wins, and the war against your stomach begins.
Overall, I have to say the very best part about sleep deprivation, is when you find that perfect in, and you slip into the most restful sleep you’ve had in too long. It’s tricky, but with the right amount of forcing yourself to stay awake, eating well, and getting things taken care of, it can be done. I keep telling myself that I just have to get through one more week and finals will be over and projects will either be done or not, and I can rest my weary head and sleep so much that I actually get younger. So I keep telling myself. Leave a comment if you like, but please don’t shatter my sleep-deprived fantasies, thanks.