My Sleep Schedule and I: A Love-Hate Relationship

 Sitting alone with my doctor, I had a couple of questions.

    “Is drinking coffee bad for you?”

    Guiltily nudging the cup of coffee away, my doctor laughed and replied. “As long as it’s in moderation, you’re fine.”

    I went on with describing how, coffee be damned, I was having trouble sleeping. I couldn’t manage to sleep whether I had caffeine or skipped it entirely. No matter how exhausted I was, my mind just wouldn’t let me rest. From little things like past conversations to larger concepts like existential hell, I just kept tossing and turning in my bed. Getting to sleep was, metaphorically and sarcastically speaking, a total nightmare.

    Because of my inability to sleep, my mood worsened. I felt fatigued. I lost motivation to do much of anything, and I was plagued by worrying thoughts. I just thought that was the plight of every college student. Lots of college kids have trouble sleeping. Whether it was because of irregular weekend hours, final exams, stress over studying, or just excitement for the next day, it’s not easy to sleep with all the nervous energy we carry through our lives.

    I haven’t had a proper bedtime since I was eleven.

    Tossing and turning started sometime in junior high and has been a consistent battle ever since. I still don’t have a bedtime, but I’ve been taking measures to make falling asleep easier for me. I take melatonin. I exercise on a relatively regular schedule. I eat healthy food to energize me for the upcoming day. I have a nightly routine to get me in the “mindset” to sleep. I put my phone completely out of reach.

    And sometimes, despite all that effort, I still lie there. Wide awake. Staring at the ceiling.

    I’m sure that, somewhere down the line, I might have a semi-regular sleep schedule. I have the awareness to know when I feel bad because of a negative event, or whether I’m overreacting simply because I’m so exhausted. I know sleep is important, and I know how much better I feel after a decent night’s rest.

    My bedtime and I haven’t seen each other for about a decade. And after all this time, what’s our relationship status, you ask?

It’s complicated.