Parasomnia and my frustration with society

It´s half past six and I´m facing a very banal and ordinary nightmare, but a nightmare nonetheless: I have to get up in half an hour and leave the house, though only in order to let someone into our old place. I can go to sleep afterwards.

Why is it a nightmare? Because normally this or an hour or two before this is when I go to sleep. I go to sleep at five, normally. That sounds insane each time I write it down, but that´s the way it is. And this being the way it is, I cannot get up before twelve without being extremely tired – with very torturing symptoms, like nausea, belly cramps and constant shaking.

I know exactly the kind of reactions this evokes, from “god, you´re lazy!” to “this can´t be healthy, you need to do something about it!” Neither reaction shows any readiness to accept that, whyever I may have such a weird sleeping rhythm, right now making me “get up” early in the morning is like making a normal person get up at three a.m. and forcing her to work  or be friendly to others or perform complicated intellectual tasks. It´s unfair, and it borders torture.

I was extremely tired at about 4 a.m., so I tried to go to sleep, but one hour ago I woke up with, guess what, belly cramps. Those are, I´m sure, purely down to stress. When I know I´ll have to either get up after two or three hours sleep, or not go to bed at all (until like 8 a.m.), I feel so much stress that I cannot sleep, no matter how tired I am, and my thoughts are racing. Loudly. Add to this a piercing headache.

I´m starting to feel like I need to fight back. Whether I simply have an extremely unsual sleeping rhythm or some kind of sleeping disorder, I do not need to punish myself for it. I feel like I have some obligation to function anyway, and to do what everybody else does, that is, be available in the morning. I can´t, though. It may annoy people, and it may make them roll their eyes and call me lazy or spoiled, but effectively I´m not sleeping more than others. I just sleep at different times.

It might actually be great to get some official diagnosis. Not because I necessarily believe I´m ill. It would shut people up, though. It needs to be something that can´t be helped, of course.

Right now I´m treating my sleeping behavior like a drug addiction. It´s something shameful that I need to keep secret, even if it means I´m shaking and panicking and have a choir of shrill voices yelling at me in my head. Maybe, though, I need to be open about it. I could actually make up some doctor I´ve already talked to who said there´s nothing anyone can do about it. Why do I need to answer to people anyway? How many of them function at three a.m.? Well. I do.

If I stopped feeling like I need to justify myself, I could simply say no to tasks like the one that´s ruining my night right now. Early morning tasks are just something you mustn´t come to me with. Full stop. Nothing to discuss. If you need someone to switch on the washing machine at two a.m., go ahead, ask me, but don´t demand I let anyone into your flat at seven a.m.! 

Right now I´m actually fairly functioning. Obviously. I´m writing a blog entry, and it´s not even a manical panicky stream of consciousness. But I don´t want to get up. I want to finish this, lie down and sleep; and instead I´ll have to get up now. When will I wake up, given that I can only go to bed in one hour earliest? At four? Now how will that feel? I will be getting zero daylight!

The logic I follow is actually: If I cannot work in the morning and keep early appointments then I am a problem because this is inconvenient to other people. Normal people. Real people, people who count. So I either need to keep those appointments anyway, or I need to go to the doctor and make sure he fixes me somehow.

I tend to think I only need a normal rhythm to be forced on me, and then it will work. Give me some hard work and suddenly I´ll go to bed at 10 p.m. Well, yes. It works for about four days, then my old rhythm sets in again. I´ve just experienced that. At the moment, early appointments merely have the paradoxical effect that I cannot sleep at all because that´s somehow less painful then the – indeed – physical agony of being ripped out of your bed when you´re just been in a phase of deep sleep.

I keep on thinking to myself what I´m missing out on because of my sleeping habits. It´s restricting my possibilities, isn´t it? Might even have a dangerous impact on my career options. Makes me look like a junkie, with those shadows under my eyes. Who´s going to employ someone like me?

I´m desperately trying to cover up for my lack of normalcy, but at the same time it´s the tyranny of normalcy that´s causing me all this stress. If I was met with understanding rather than disdain, I would actually be able to contribute something. But no, I probably just lack discipline! Really, I dare you: Imagine you´re suddenly cast into a society where the day starts at 3 a.m. You´ll have to get up just that early for most jobs, for most appointments, and if you don´t, you´ll be frowned upon and called lazy. I already look forward to storming into your room and shaking you awake, and please make sure to tell me exactly how you´re doing!

If you think you´re going to get used to it and be just fine, good for you, but by doing so, you´re admitting that our current rhythm is pretty arbitrary. I´m actually sick of being told that we have a natural rhythm that is oriented towards daylight, and that every other rhythm is sick and perverted and unhealthy. Human beings adapt damn quickly, and electricity has been around for a while now. Maybe people being awake at night is a natural reaction to a technical development. What´s so good about natural anyway? Most of modern medicine isn´t particularly natural, but it has greatly improved our life quality.

Imagine a society that celebrates sleeping rhythm diversity. Wouldn´t such a society be a whole lot more productive? Especially regarding the global nature of our economy. It can only be useful to have people around who work at night, because for other people it´s bright daylight and they can interact without losing any time.

Well. Dream on. I didn´t even mean to turn this into a political debate. I only meant to say that I´d do myself a great favor if I forced others to simply accept that I´m not available before noon. If I stopped acting like I have to make up for it. This thought has been confirmed right away, simply because my cramps have suddenly stopped. Fascinating, isn´t it?

 

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