Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Sleep Ritual

Thirty minutes after I've ingested the carefully sliced fourth of my prescribed sleep aid, the second plug is inserted into my ear and the din of buses and drunks evacuates to a comforting whoooosh...Then, when finally all I can hear is the plastic grinding of my teeth against my bite guard, I find the void in which sleep comes easiest to me. (During the summer months, the hum of my window unit supplies noise of sufficient whiteness and I sleep without plugs.)

Despite what the nature of this forum might suggest, in the past I have been reticent towards disclosure of the contents of my sleep ritual. After one such rare reporting, a friend once suggested that I would be difficult person to have casual sex with. A chill of recognition, chasing a pang of betrayal, rushed up my spine at this insight. I managed to avoid confronting the absurd complexity of my sleeping habits then only by breaking the ritual down into its component parts and rationalizing them each in piecemeal fashion, thereby extracting the immediacy from the recognition:

I am an auditory person (some people are). I am an anxious person (well, this is an explodable concept in itself, so combustible in fact that it scarcely generates a need for further rationalization). I have fought the onset of sleep since I was a child, and it is entirely possible it is a battle I am not intended to win without help in this lifetime, and where does that leave me in any respect, if untreated? I grind my teeth while I sleep (having a two-pronged effect, insofar as the discomfort of the bite guard initially prompted a further need for sleep medication and the recognition that I might actually be doing irreparable harm to my teeth while sleeping certainly did nothing to ease my passage into slumber).

Now I am older (and my liver is even older, through the filtration of these remedies--self-prescribed and otherwise), and, given the undeniable force of the overall recognition, I have begun to revisit the finer points of my sleep ritual. Oddly enough, it was the proximity entailed by a long term relationship that compelled this reevaluation.

I mediate my difficulties with sleep through medication. (This is a confession and beyond whatever defensiveness discussion of my sleep habits provoke, I am committed to full disclosure in this forum.) Thus, I admit to having yielded over certain major functions of my humanity to technology--although to my mind not unlike yielding the parenting of a difficult child to television (and what could be more natural...). Yet having long since accepted that I fit the conditions of generalized anxiety disorder, further that I am an intensely neurotic person, even further that this neuroses has in no way furthered my livelihood or made me more successful or desirable in any way...I still feel that I should be capable of and ready for casual sex. Casual sex is an embedded quality of Man and I resemble him in many ways.

Anyway, with whatever ease and with whatever difference between my ease of sleep and that of others' (specifically unmedicated sleepers in the presumptive majority), I awake frequently during the night and often feel tired throughout the day and sometimes wonder whether my lack of sleep has prevented full actualization of my potential as a person. This is a fancy of mine, which I admit I cannot fully invest myself in (because I recognize that whatever character defines my state of rest is inextricably linked to my overall character given its longstanding presence), but still I wonder if the ideal path for me is an unmediated, yet trouble-free sleep ritual...

[At the present time he has no intention of altering any one of the component parts of his sleep ritual. February, 2009]

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