For the most part, I like my brain. It gives me ready access to puns when I need them (which is more often than you’d think), and is great at navigating me towards things I can eat. It has its “fun” neuroses, like the one where it tells me that my pets will spontaneously combust unless every electrical item has been deactivated in my house before I leave it, but largely, we’re on good terms. At least until I relinquish control and drift off to sleep. Then it’s grey matter party time.
I’m fascinated by sleep – particularly sleep disorders and dreams. I love a good documentary on the messed up things that happen to us in the land of nod, and I’ve read a few books on the topic (recommendations always welcome!).
Our minds are, for want of a less obvious term, fucking mental. I’m quite a light sleeper, so I often remember my dreams and can experience a few per night. Here are just a couple of examples of dreams I’ve had this weekend:
- I dreamed most of a movie (bar, annoyingly, the ending) about the misfortunes of a transitioning drag queen pursuing fame in rave culture and hiding a pregnancy. If I was less lazy and had the ability to screen write, I’d be penning the shit out of that one – it’s got Netflix movie written all over it!
- I’m on a night out with Ben and Chris from Parks and Recreation. At one point, we’re in a stadium, watching a school play over cocktails. The kids perform the song Never Enough from The Greatest Showman and I burst into tears. Well, it is a very powerful song.
- I move into a 3 story mansion with my pets, my boyfriend and one of my sisters. Mansion is creepy because it looks like the previous owners just upped and left without taking any of their stuff with them. My sister, who has chosen the top floor to live in, isn’t concerned by all the porcelain dolls and watering cans full of what seems to be petrol, but by the fact that the floor in her kitchen feels spongy.
I feel massively fortunate that I’ve never experienced the more “fuck that shit” spectrum of sleep problems, like sleep paralysis, but I’ve experienced my fair share of weirdness, so I’m going to share said weirdness with you here. Tuck yourself in and I’ll tell you some bedtime stories…
This is where you “see things” as you’re waking up, usually when you’re moving out of a dream state. I’ve always had this from what I remember and these days, I’m usually aware that it’s happening. The things I see as an adult are more like moving blobs and sometimes face shapes in the dark with no clear form, and only for a few moments while I wait for my eyes to readjust. When I was in my early teens, however, a couple of my more “memorable” experiences of this were waking up and seeing my mum’s disembodied face hovering right in front of my nose before vanishing into the dark, and seeing a figure in a fluffy dressing gown shuffle into my room, stand at the foot of my bed and slowly turn its face towards me. Which was, obviously, a skull. Cool. Cool.
Exploding head syndrome
Where your head literally explodes.
Heh. Only joking. This has only happened to me once, but it very nearly made me soil myself. I was drifting off to sleep after another long and rewarding day of overthinking and snacking, when, just on the threshold of passing out, I hear the LOUDEST bang I’ve ever heard. It sounded like a lorry driving into the house or a plane crashing into my roof, a la Donnie Darko. Once the resultant inevitable hand flapping and heart attack subsided, I realised that the earth shattering bang came from inside my own mind. Just – why? What evolutionary purpose does going “BANG!!” to yourself while you’re at your most vulnerable serve?!
Something that makes me a delight to share a bedroom with. During times of stress (I have no chill, so this is pretty much all times), I click my teeth together while I’m asleep. Not grind. Click. Like an extra from The Walking Dead, or a set of novelty wind-up dentures. My sister, who was treated to a performance of this whilst sharing a hotel room with me a few years ago, informs me that this habit is “fucking creepy”. I like to think I do it because I don’t like missing out on a good chat while I’m asleep and my subconscious is just trying to strike up a conversation in morse code.
AKA the absolute worst. I think these are meant to be related to stress somehow too. You know when you get up in the morning and go through all the usual “getting ready” rigamarole? You do your teeth, get dressed, sort your hair out and get in the car. Only to then “wake” up again and go through the whole thing all over again another couple of times, assuming that this time you’re actually awake, for real -like Groundhog Day but with your morning routine.
I’ve even made it as far as most of the way through a day at work before I’ve realised that I am, in fact, asleep, and I have to get up in a few minutes’ time and do Monday all over again, this time in real life. I firmly believe that when this happens, I should be allowed to ring in to work and tell them I’m not coming in, because I’ve already been in today. Three times.
Last night, I had a fun mish mash of false awakening and night terror. As I type this, I am completely and utterly knackered and am only 50-60% sure that I’m actually awake and not trapped in some kind of Inception-esque loop:
I “woke up” in my spare room which I took myself took myself off to last night to go and read for a bit – I couldn’t drift off on account of the cough and cold I have, and t’other half was working the next day and I didn’t want to disturb him. The room was pitch black and for some reason , I felt total and absolute terror. Something was wrong with me – my heart was trying to beat itself out of my chest and my body felt slow and drugged, like I barely had control over it. I managed to stand for long enough to flop over to the light switch, which wouldn’t turn on, nor would the light on the landing, which made me feel even more frightened. I dragged myself on all fours to the bedroom, crying and clawing weakly at the bedding to try and get Andy to help me. He’s baffled and doesn’t know what’s wrong. The terror reaches a horrible peak, and I scream and scream, totally helpless and feeling the air rush out of my throat, not making a sound. Then I wake up. And the whole thing starts again, about 5 or 6 times.
Anyone else out there’s brain go haywire on them while asleep too? Reassurance that I’m not actually crazy (or that I am, but that there are more of me out there) would be nice, so be please a dear and share your freaky sleep experiences in the comments.
While you do that for me, I’m off to grab a coffee. A STRONG coffee.