Sleep with One Eye Open

You need to earn your sleep …

One of the most intriguing side-effects of my extroversion is the new twist on my insomnia.

Perhaps it’s not really a new twist, per se, but more of a confirmation of what I’ve always suspected.

That I need to earn my sleep.

Sleep, has always been an elusive element of my daily life. It’s still a mystery to me, how easily people succumb to the arms of Morpheus. I dislike sleep, because it goes against every single paranoid instinct I have.

I understand that it is a necessity to living, but to be knocked out for so long, without any true awareness of the outside world, has never quite gelled well with my overcautious nature. It’s why I’m so determined to cut down the amount of hours I need.

From 8 to 6, dipping occasionally into 5 … the less I need to operationally function daily, the better I feel overall.

Beyond my usual diatribe about how sleep is a waste of time, and the fact that I dislike knowing an entire third of my existence is spent unconscious, slumber is very much designated an “award” in my head.

In order to go to bed at a reasonable time, I need to be exhausted.

My mind needs to be clear, free of any distracting thoughts and my body needs to be genuinely tired.

It’s a bizarre system.

I can just sense when my body feels like it has not done enough. It refuses to rest, instead it becomes restless. It wants to exercise, to push itself so that it can go into recovery mode and use sleep as a means, not an end.

When I’ve had a lazy day, I notice that I don’t feel as tired, and that my mind goes into this overactive state, where I become too alert, too mindful and thoughtful. I start over-analysing things, and the need to write is stronger than ever.

It is times like this, I know that I need to walk.

The desire to go out, dressed against the elements, anonymous and alone is the only cure for what happens when I’ve been resting for too long.

It is calming, soothing even, to feel the bite of the night wind, listen to the silent screams of lonely cars down the road, feel the soft footfalls against concrete and embrace the solitude behind the myth I’ve created for myself.

The quiet man, walking alone in the dark, fearing nothing.

It is this small exercise that finally allows me to sleep. Without doing it, I feel this strange sense of atrophy. Like I ate too much food and didn’t do enough to exercise it off. Like I’ve wasted my own time or day, simply existing.

Something nocturnal in me just awakens when I’ve spent my day being too lazy.

Mind you, this is only halfway through a consecutive 22 day work stint. For context, the past 11 days I have spent doing multiple things every day. I’ve haven’t really spent any time at home.

Each day has consisted of working either at my final shifts in retail or at my new events home-base, the Melbourne Showgrounds.

Then I’ve pushed myself after, to do something more; working out, enjoying the presence of friends, running errands … there has always been an extra activity after work. I don’t get home until it is quite late and by then I’m ready to do my skincare and head to bed.

So tonight was especially strange. I actually had a breather, a night in. I could just go home and put my feet up.

There was just something so slow and indulgent about the night, that I couldn’t full enjoy myself. I knew that I had earned this rest day, that I should slow down and just soak in the sheer atrophy of the moment.

But I couldn’t. My mind buzzed, as if it was distracted by its own boredom. My body was restless too, as if it was confused as to why it was allowed to recover after the rigours of the past week and a half.

So here I am, writing at the normal creative hour of 2AM, unable to sleep, simply because I felt like I hadn’t earnt that reward yet. There is no other way of putting it. I can’t rest easily because deep down, I felt like I hadn’t done enough to earn it.

Perhaps I have become a workaholic. That only through work, I find purpose, meaning and drive to my life. I love working, keeping busy and feeling like I’ve accomplished something that day.

But in reality, if I was to look at the bigger, darker picture, what have I really done? After all, isn’t existence aimless?

If I was to give that thought, an extra nanosecond of consideration, I would never get anything done. I know that the work I do, is rewarding, fun and gets me out of bed at the strangest hours. It may not be much, guarding a gate for 6 hours or manning an empty store for 8, but it is enough for me to retain something out of my life.

It is that desperate need to cling onto my work, that really drives me forwards nowadays. It’s why I can’t really enjoy my lazy days anymore. My extraverted nature makes me feel like I’ve wasted my time, just existing, instead of enjoying.

Home is now considered a place where I prepare for the day, and tomorrow. If I am at home for too long, I need to leave. I need the company of strangers, the idea that people out there exist and that the world is not limited to my four walls.

Only by knowing how much I’ve achieved in a day, do I reach that calm mental state, where I am too tired, to think, reflect or even react to anything. There is nothing my paranoia can do, because I’m exhausted, satisfied and at peace.

All I can do is sleep now and feel my body work its magic, in repairing itself as I do so.

The phrase sleep with one eye open is a reference to how alert you need to be, to snap awake at a moment’s notice to react to any form of danger.

I work myself to the limit, so that I can finally put that to rest and sleep with both eyes shut.

~ Damocles.

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