I have a difficult relationship with sleep, not because I’m not getting enough, but because I enjoy it too much. It is by far the thing I look forward to most each day. I don’t enjoy being unconscious per se, but I do enjoy having a period of time where I drop the pretence of ignoring pain, and can just relax, and embrace rest.
This post may seem a little defeatist than I intended. I just wanted to deconstruct the weird myriad of issues that sleep poses.
I want to talk about why leaving that state is the hardest thing I have to do each day and why it’s different and more complicated than just being tired.
I can always sleep more
Happily I’m sleeping better than my last post on sleep, and I’m still following all the advice in that post. I get enough sleep, I don’t take naps (usually) but I can’t escape the feeling of always being tired.
As I’m managing chronic pain as well as chronic fatigue, I always find myself yearning for sleep. If given the opportunity I could sleep for twice the time I actually sleep. I am not sleep deprived, I just don’t get the benefit of sleep anymore, but I still greatly enjoy the small amount of restorative sleep I do get.
Pain ebbing away
Going to bed is such a perfect experience for me. I lie still, as comfortably as I have been all day, I lie between sleep and awakeness. The pain is there, but it’s quietly drowned out by the heavy, warm and gentle call of tiredness.
Sleep is the only time I don’t consciously experience pain. I still experience pain, but it no longer wakes me in the way it once did (happily). I have experienced the misery of being awoken from sleep from pain, so I know how difficult that can be, and how hard going back to sleep can be. So right now I just like to revel in the idea that sleep gets me a brief, unconscious respite from pain.
Sleep has become my daily escape from pain. I look forward to it every night. I nod off with a smile on my face. I can stop fighting the fatigue and pain, and just be, it makes me realise how exhausted I am. I’m not scared by it I embrace the freedom that sleep offers me.
There aren’t many positives to long term illness, however I have noticed that the onset of my illnesses and the absence of pain in dreams gives me a consistent way to know when I am dreaming. I’ve started to have lucid dreams where I am able to control what I do in my dreams to some extent.
Dreams have become a powerful way to manage living with illness, giving me a place to do the things I miss without repurcussion.
Leaving my bed is so hard
So leaving that state is momentally difficult. A place where I’m not aware of pain, where I am warm and comfortable and completely in control of how I feel.
Becoming conscious again feels like a massive heavy curtain is being pulled over my body at the same time my covers come away. The pain rises up from nowhere, slinking into my worldview like a serpent, only to physically beat me as I open my eyes. It takes my breath away, and in that moment between waking and sleep, I suddenly remember all the pain I left on the edge of consciousness the night before.
It’s no wonder I don’t want to leave bed most days. It’s not depressive, it’s just if I didn’t have to work, and have that to continue to push me onwards each day, I would remain in bed, and try to escape pain for as long as possible. Work is a positive force, and I want to keep doing it for as long as I can, no matter how hard.
My body hurts all over each morningI feel the strain in all of my muscles and tissues, and sometimes I cannot get out of bed unaided, which is terrifying.
I take comfort that most days will generally improve once I am up and around, but it doesn’t stop a reluctance to leave bed, it’s the easier option. Most days, it’s the option I want to take, but I know that getting up and getting moving is the hardest part of the day, and it’s generally easier from there.