Naps are my hobby.
Sleeping in is my homeboy.
When I was a teenager, I used to return from school after a very demanding day of sitting, and would fall asleep in front of the TV before dinner. Since I was a child, they had to physically drag me out of bed in the mornings. Sleep and me were like peas and carrots.
My parents weren’t into me and my preoccupation with my bed. They’d rather I help with dinner or that I do things like homework. They argued passionately that I was lazy, that I could not possibly have had such an exhausting day that I needed a nap to recover from it.
When I tried to argue, I didn’t really have much of a leg to stand on. I wasn’t one of those kids who was in tons of extracurricular activities, clubs, or sports. I relied heavily on hearing that teens just need more sleep than adults, and that parents just don’t understand. I figured I’d grow out of it. And for a long time, I thought it was laziness that turned me into sleeping beauty.
When I became an adult and did not grow out of it, I began to question why.
I then began to assume it was because I had an erratic work schedule. That I didn’t have kids yet, so there was no reason to schedule my sleep. That I stayed out late.
I noticed that childless friends my age who also had erratic work schedules and partied did not, overall, sleep as much as I did.
But really, it wasn’t much of a problem. Since I had few responsibilities aside from getting my ass to work, it didn’t really matter much.
A couple years ago, when anxiety caused me to take a week off from work to re-group, I napped a lot.
A lot, a lot.
I pretty much napped exclusively that week. I’m fairly certain that I woke only to feed myself and check Facebook.
That’s when I began to realize that my bed, and sleeping, has nothing to do with being tired. It is my safety zone. It’s my escape. It’s the only place and state in which the world cannot harm me.
Many would be quick to argue that it’s just a way of hiding from my problems – and I completely agree. But sometimes, when everything is coming at me from every direction and life is just getting too overwhelming, the one thing I can do to hit the STOP button is to go to sleep.
There’s no medication involved, not one gets hurt, I am not making any rash decisions that affect anyone. I get to take a break and check out, even if it’s only for a few hours. I am cozy, safe, and warm. I can relax, I can breathe, and I can be uninterrupted. I am not embarrassed, I am not thinking, and I do not have to think about my next move. I don’t have to think about anything – my mind wanders in and out of dreams and for a little while, and I have achieved what I really want: I have disappeared.
Granted, my problems are still going to be there when I wake up. But for me, naps are a total godsend.
After that nap, those problems sometimes don’t seem like the enormous mountains they were earlier in the day. Sometimes I care just a little less about them. Sometimes the thoughts and panicky feelings have dissipated just enough that they aren’t clouding my judgment. Sometimes I feel like I’m not so out of control anymore. Sometimes I am no longer considering all-or-nothing solutions. Sometimes I feel a bit silly for having felt so strongly about my problems.
Not always, but sometimes.
Sometimes I take sleep to the extreme. When I’m crazy-stressed about something big, and experiencing too many panic attacks, sleep does nothing except turn out the lights for a short while. When I wake up, I am still in the midst of my perceived problems. I nap over and over, day after day, not finding any solace aside from the brief breaks between feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, sleep is just the only way I can block everything out for a couple of hours, but doesn’t help beyond that. Oftentimes I find myself dreaming about eerily similar situations.
I have recurring dreams about being in high school, not knowing what my class schedule is, and it’s almost time to graduate. But I haven’t been to classes in months – and don’t know where to go, and I can’t find anyone to help me. I’ve dreamed that I’ve actually failed right before graduation.
You don’t need to be some kind of dream guru to note a link between that kind of recurrent dream and life’s stresses. And as you can imagine, this kind of sleep does absolutely nothing for me. There is no healing – just added stress, actually.
Thankfully, I don’t find that these naps happen too often.
Cuz for the most part? I have a nap, dream about random things, and am able to unplug from life for a few hours. I wake with my cat cuddled into me, feeling his purrs reverberate though my own body, and feel a little more okay.