I have insomnia. In fact, I am up during the night so frequently I may soon join the ranks of bats, cockroaches and earwigs as a nocturnal creature.
Sometimes I wake up after midnight and remain awake for hours before returning to bed. Other times I wake up in the early morning when my nocturnal friends are finally going to sleep and the early bird is getting the worm, though that’s not something I’ve ever witnessed.
I have also been known to stay up all night until dawn, which sounds cool but is really no fun at all. When this happens I may have just crawled back to bed when my husband’s alarm goes off. Shortly after, my children wake up and I am forced to begin the day in a zombie state in which I assume all slow, rigor mortis-type zombie movements and go from one task to another with comatose brain function.
As an aside, if you happen to share my condition, any time after midnight is the perfect time to write e-mails. If your friends get e-mail between midnight and 3:30 a.m., they think you’re a way cool night owl up posting to other cool night owls on myspace. Any time after 3:30 a.m. they are awestruck that you would be up so early when they are most certainly asleep in their beds, the lazy bums.
In the middle of the night, my emotions are high and anything in my life that is unresolved or troubling to me comes to the surface and occupies my thoughts. Well, consumes my thoughts to the point of obsession is really more accurate. For this very reason I am grateful for diversionary television shows, like Dexter. This vicarious outlet helps me to get my mind off any unfinished business that, acted upon in those wee morning hours, I might find regrettable when the sun comes up.
If on those nights of sleeplessness I am lucky enough to catch an hour or so of rest in the early mornings, just as the sun is beginning to rise but before the alarm goes off, I find my mind is filled with strange, vivid dreams. In those dreams I have found myself unable to reach the brake pedal on my car as it rolls backwards down a steep driveway, cruising on a boat that is dangerously close to the shore line and driving in a car about to be immersed in a tidal wave of water.
I confess, I sometimes wake up quite disappointed that my dreams aren’t real. How amazing would it be to be a shape-shifter with mind control powers and Johnny Depp for a boyfriend?
Twice I have been so sleep-deprived that I have hallucinated, and once while traveling overseas I was so disoriented from a lack of sleep I actually missed a flight.
But, despite the trouble it has brought me, my vampire-like qualities have had their benefits. When I am up in the middle of the night, there is nobody to disrupt television watching, Internet surfing, or book reading, and I have also gotten some very productive house cleaning done at this hour.
I have even had a moment of clarity where I appreciated my insomnia.
This past summer on vacation with my family, we stayed at a beach resort in Naples, Fla. Due to a series of hotel mishaps, we ended up in a penthouse overlooking the ocean. When I found myself wide awake at three o’clock in the morning, I went out to the veranda to get some fresh air.
At this hour of night, I found a full moon hanging just over the ocean’s horizon, casting a light across the sea. This beautiful vision, along with the warm breeze and sound of the crashing ocean made me realize that I would not have had the opportunity to experience this amazing sight were it not for my insomnia.
Of course, the rest of my family was asleep and not there to share it with me, but I do think I may have heard a werewolf howl in the distance.
Kluger writes from Dennisville.