My eyes flicker into consciousness and, a moment later, a tiny tingle in my toes makes itself known. Excitement. A simple joy on waking after a good restful sleep. I bounce out of bed, looking forward to the day. Then a sudden jolt had me standing, motionless, gazing out the window in wonder. I’m looking forward to my day! I’m looking forward to my day? What up doe, Detroit!
A slow grin squeezed my cheeks as energy zipped around my body and, refusing to be contained, had me gyrating my hips, blue tooth speaker on Rihanna’s “Work, work work, work work” and arms in sync, dancing around my bedroom, wondering whether my 10-year old walked in. I don’t care. I, without a doubt, had a good night’s sleep. But how?
Sleep. The seed to life.
Something we all take for granted. Like oxygen. Or blood running throughout veins. Or the sunrise. “I’m tired,” people say. And I resist the temptation to give them my life story. Or, at least, my night-time story of the past 10+ years.
It began when I was expecting my Nya, my one and only child. “At-risk pregnancy,” My primary doctor told me repeatedly, “is common with a woman your age and your size.” The discomfort of added stress on expecting with no job, no home, and no baby’s father, added pressure on top – and I certainly experienced anxiety, depression, and unworthy-ness every day of my pregnancy. But at night, I would easily drop off to sleep only to wake, suddenly and completely, assuming it was morning. But it wasn’t. It was 2 AM. I was not uncomfortable and didn’t need to pee. I was, simply, maddeningly, wide awake and alert, my brain playing vivid images of my life in front of me as a mother. I had to produce more, be more, have more money, make life better for her. Ping! 3 AM. 5:30 AM. Or 6 AM. Another night of un-sleep? Why can’t I sleep?
It was a pattern that continued after my daughter was born – and ten years later – only now, getting up through the night to investigate, watch, clean, prepare over Nya was part of the sleeplessness cocktail. Sometimes I shouted “go away” at my daughter, as the door clicked open the next morning, waking me from the last precious short spurts of sleep. Then later that night, I’d lie in the dark, my back, neck, and head wracked with tension, tortuous thoughts circling. “What’s happening to me? Why do I find sleep so difficult? My poor child. I wish she had a better mother. I hate my decisions. I need to getaway. Maybe I’ve insane and don’t know it?” There was no going back to sleep for several hours or, more often, the rest of the night. It’s a vicious maddening cycle.
The world of self-help offered an alternative to the “madwoman who needs to be subdued with drugs” narrative that has wreaked havoc with so many women’s lives. So this month we start a journey of better sleep. Join us and share your stories.
Photo credit: Jaylin Dorsey-Mitchell
Production: Spencer Richardson-Moore
Mattress: Awara Natural Mattress