The 10 Stages of Insomnia

1. It’s Sunday. You’ve had a joyous weekend, but now Monday is around the corner and – chest heave, throaty whimper – the rigmarole starts all over again. In preparation, you’ve gone to bed nice and early. So it’s 10pm and you’ve been in bed since 9pm, surrounded by newspaper supplements. There are lashings of lavender spray ‘pon your pillow; a fresh mint tea on your bedside table; scented candles, flickering nearby. Hell, short of naked baby angels serenading you to sleep, the set-up could not be sweeter. Or sleepier. Except, where is this narcoleptic bliss you foresee? Oh, I know. It’s where the other trillions of nights of narcoleptic bliss reside. In, Not-Happening-Ville, just south of Don’t Even Fucking Bother, on the border of Monday Is Going To Eat You, Slash Definitely Make You Cry. Hurrah!

2. It’s OK. It’s OK! You’ll just read the papers a little longer. You proceed quite casually towards 11pm. You can still get eight hours sleep – that elusive ideal, according to all those weird sleep experts – if you go to sleep right now. You’ll go in just one second, you’re sure of it, you’re just going to have a sip of water. A tiny one, mind – barely even a sipette. And then go for a mini wee. And drink some water. And go for wee. And drink some water. And go for a we– What the fuck’s going on? Why are you trapped in some weird urinal cycle, when one sip means one pee? You’re not going to have any blinking loo roll left at this rate, which means you boyfriend will use your really nice cotton pads instead, when he wakes up. Ah! You’ve got it. All this thirsty peeing means that your body is getting ready to sleep and therefore must rid itself of pee whilst hydrating itself fully, so as not to wake you up, from the narcoleptic bliss. How exciting. You finish your final, fifteenth wee with a contented flourish.

3. Midnight and you’re two gallons of water down. You’re pissed off and feeling a bit like a water balloon. You can only get seven hours sleep now, you muse, agitatedly. But seven hours isn’t bad, you reason. Honestly, anything over four and the body is still totally capable of functioning. Margaret Thatcher only got four hours – every single night! You’re a wuss. Snap out of it! You snap on the light – laughing in the face of insomnia and the groaning, slumbering dead-weight beside you. You’ll just read, until sleep comes.

4. You don’t know how the fuck Margaret Thatcher even got up in the morning because now it’s 1am, you’re down to a potential six hours sleep and your breakfast meeting is doomed.

5. The thing is, you’re not actually militant about sleep. It’s just that it’s a Sunday. And everyone knows that a great Sunday’s night sleep sets you up for the day. It’s like avodacos in the morning. Or a power walk at lunch. Or something. It’s totally fair enough and normal that you’re getting upset about this. And you are getting a bit upset. You’re trying not to, but it’s 2am, you’ve been tossing and turning and peeing for 4 hours now and you’re going a tiny bit mad.

6. A single little tear leaks its way down your cheek. You feel a bit snoozy. Mmmm, nice snoozy tears leaking out of your eyes. You rest your head on the pillow… and nothing. The tears stop and suddenly you are FURIOUS. Absolutely incanDESCENT with fury. Who the HELL does your body think it is, torturing you like this? Is it some kind of patriarchal bastard, sent to test you? In this moment, you forget you are one person and morph into some sort of sleep-addled Jekyll and Hyde.

7. The anger doesn’t subside. Instead it builds. You seethe about the fact that someone deigns to sleep next to you whilst you are in the grip of a full-scale meltdown. Doesn’t he care?

8. DON’T YOU CARE? You bellow. FOR FUCK’S SAKE, I CAN’T SLEEP, IT’S LIKE YOU DON’T EVEN CARE. Muh-fluth. Flymph-fert he mumbles. None of these noises help the cause, so you ‘accidentally’ poke him. He catapults off the bed, immediately 110% awake, fearfully clutching his ribs. There is a small purple bruise forming. That wasn’t you, though. Obviously it wasn’t you! “That wasn’t me”, you say, at the same time he exclaims “That was you!”

9. He slides back into bed, with a wary, wounded expression. You interpret this expression as arrogant indifference. It’s not you fault. It’s 3.30AM by this point and you’re not fully capable of reading the nuances of emotional expression. SO SUE YOU.

10. Oh god, sleep is delicious. You’re sliding into it, at last, after 6 hours of trying. And it tastes so good! So good. Better than a honeydew Bubbleology with extra popping mango boba, or sweet chilli Walkers Sensations with caramelised onion hummus. You chuckle your way into narcoleptic bliss, so glad are you to see its fluffy little face. Into your dreams you go, ge-e-e-n-t-l-y does it, nice an– BEEP BEEP BEEP. And it’s 7am. Have a nice day!

This is a work of non-fiction.

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