I have written here previously about how much I love my bed. Six feet wide, with crisp cotton sheets and piled high with cushions and pillows. I am also obsessed by sleep and crave that deep heavy sleep, uninterrupted and totally restoring. So why, in this haven of bed linen and comfort, do I find it so bloody hard to sleep?
A bad night always starts badly. I know within the first hour if sleep will be easy. After then, I am doomed. Sleep becomes something I desperately want, but that desperation is my undoing. If I just nip to the loo, I will be able to sleep. Off I go, trying not to look at the clock in the bathroom. If I just scratch that itch. And that one. Wait, what about this one. Hang on, are these fleas? Actually, my whole body now feels as if it has fleas crawling over it. Go back to bathroom. Examine itchy leg/arm – not a bite anywhere. Back to bed. Perhaps a more comfortable position. On my front. But what about my neck. Make pillow ring like the face hole in a massage bed. Not, that doesn’t work, let’s try on my side. Nope. What about the other side. And on and on it goes. If I were filmed whilst in bed and it was played on a fast setting, I would be a human fairground waltzer, spinning one way then the other.
Lady Macbeth was right about sleep. I am too tired to remember what she said, but it was something like sleep unravelled the cares we knit during the day. Actually that doesn’t sound right, because unravelling knitting is a problem to be solved, not a solution. I know this because I have knitting downstairs which has unravelled and I need to get it back on needles. But to do that I need some time and to concentrate, because I know it is awkward wool to hook back on needles, perhaps I should do it now, oh no, wait. I am trying to sleep. This is what I do, a thought wanders into my head and rather than let it drift by, I grab hold of it, sit it down, make it a cup of tea and decide that right now, in the middle of the flipping night, is when I should be working out my problems.
I imagine conversations I need to have. I have given brilliant speeches in the early hours of the morning, had original thoughts which I promise myself I will save and use later but never do. I have settled old scores alone in the dark, staring at the ceiling, thinking how the other person will crumble under the full blast of my self righteousness. Somewhere else, they are probably fast asleep.
And then there is the undecided hour, which starts around five, at which the possibility of getting up is considered, of abandoning any further chance of sleep. My internal voice tells me, that at least I am resting, that this appearance of sleep, lying down and closing my eyes is the next best thing. Sometimes this is followed by the near death sleep that lasts less than an hour before the six thirty alarm breaks it up. These are the mornings when the Invisible Rock of Despair is its heaviest.
This morning I escape. I switch on the teasmade. I write this blog post. The cats stare balefully at me for not feeding them. I am unmoved. They have all day to sleep, the miserable furry bastards. You see, sleeplessness robs me of the milk of human kindness as my sister insomniac Lady Macbeth would say.