I have never enjoyed sleeping. As a young child (before 6) my sleep was plagued with nightmares. I remember being running though the basement of our house trying to escape a man who always stood in the shadows. Whenever I thought I was going to get away I would suddenly be back where are started in the back corner farthest from the stairs. Over and over I would have the dream and wake up as the man walked closer to me and into the light. I can only remember one time when the light hit the man’s face and it was my father. I remember shaking and crying in my bed after I woke up. I used to dream that there were snakes writhing under the blankets. When I woke up I could only leave the room if the closet door was closed (and I always closed it before I went to bed). Sometimes (it feels like usually) I would wake up and discover the door was half-open and I would strain my eyes to see if there was anyone or anything in there. If I wanted to get to my parents I would have to run by the open closets. I never called out for them. I don’t know if that is because I thought they wouldn’t respond or if I was afraid that it would make whatever was in the closet come out. Often if I did make a run to my parents they would tell me I was having a dream and I should go back to bed. I would sit in the corner of their bedroom afraid to try another run by the closet. Sometimes I didn’t even run I just watched the closet.
As I grew older I learned how to direct my dreams at times. I remember having dreams where I was being chased and I pretended to be dead or hid to save my life. It worked although I felt guilty that I was a coward even though nobody but me knew it. As an adult I didn’t seem to dream very often but when I did the dreams were always about being sexually assaulted. I have had dreams about being attacked in my home, at work, on the street outside of M’s office, at my son’s Karate dojo, in our neighbourhood park. The list is endless. The dreams have a common theme in that even though I can see people they don’t help me. Sometimes I am yelling for help and they walk by me like I am invisible. Other times I know they can’t help so I don’t even yell but they are always within sight and they can’t or won’t do anything to help me. After I had kids I started having nightmares about them being in danger and I can’t save them. It is awful and luckily it doesn’t happen very often. I used to call myself a night owl. I said I needed very little sleep. I could stay up into the early hours of the morning reading or studying and then get up after 4 or 5 hours and feel completely rested. I never had any trouble falling asleep but I never got into bed until I was exhausted. Then I had children and got older and things changed.
Now I’m in my mid-40’s and I am always tired. I still can’t fall asleep before the early hours of the morning however. If I get into bed at 11pm or midnight, I can’t seem to fall asleep. My thoughts are racing, I toss and turn, I can’t get comfortable, I watch the clock or read something for hours. I have discovered something over the last couple of years. If I get into bed anytime between noon and early evening I can fall asleep easily. I usually don’t let myself because I don’t want a nap to interfere with my ability to sleep at night. Everything feels different then. My bed feels warm and soft and comforting. I like to curl up in the blankets and just feel comforted by being in bed. My bed feels safe. Lately I’ve been wondering why my bed never feels that way at night. I’m not actually feeling scared at night while I wait to go to sleep but I always feel tense and wound up. I fall asleep at night like I’ve been hit over the head. One moment I’m thinking I’m never going to be able to sleep and the next I’m waking up. During the day I lean into rest and relaxation even if I don’t fall asleep. I hate that my bed feels so different at night.