Vivid, critical insomnolence.

My most frustrating experience in college recurred frequently: nearly falling asleep in class. I’d be sitting there, notebook open, pencil in hand, trying desperately to concentrate on the lecture, to focus on the notes, to keep my head upright, to not drift off…

The fatigue would occasionally be interrupted by that little mid-air head bounce back into a fleeting wakefulness, a quick check of the clock, a horrifying realization that there were still, say, forty-seven minutes left in the class, forty-seven minutes until I could get up and move around, forty-seven minutes until I could head back to the dorm, take a decent hour-long nap before my next class, and shake off the exhaustion. After a good dozen or so of those head bounces, the prof would finally dismiss the class, I’d hightail it back to the dorm, kick off the shoes, close the blinds, turn out the lights, plop my head down on my pillow…

…and stare at the popcorn ceiling, completely wide awake, unable to sleep. The minutes didn’t tick away because I had a digital clock, but they would have if they could have, and as they would have done so, I’d grow angrier and angrier at myself for not getting any sleep after dying for it throughout the last class, and after an hour or so I’d climb out of bed having gotten precisely zero winks of sleep, put the shoes back on, load the next set of books into my bag, and trudge off to the next class knowing perfectly well that I was in for fifty to seventy-five minutes of the same damn thing.

I was reminded of this incredible frustration while driving home this weekend. Middle of the day? Check. Decent sleep the night before? Eight solid hours. A balanced and not-too-sugary breakfast? Yep. Didn’t matter– I felt like I desperately needed to get more sleep. I kept counting off the miles ’til I could get to the next rest area, pull into a spot, tilt the seat back, put a coat over my face to block out the sun, and get a quick nap. I’d get to the next rest area, pull into a spot, tilt the seat back, put a coat over my face to block out the sun, and… sit there wide-awake and eyes open for fifteen minutes wondering how stupid I looked. I’d then straighten up, get back on the road, and get about five minutes down the road before the drowsiness would set back in. Dangerous stuff. If I pull off the road to get some rest in hopes of ensuring safe driving, but I don’t actually get any rest, then clearly the rest area is malfunctioning or mislabeled. I should sue the state.

Mayhaps I need to trek into the mountains to find some guru or shaman to teach me how to sleep and how to stay awake. Either that or see a sleep therapist.

Those little head bounces could be quite painful when I was in seventh grade. I always had a window seat on the bus, but the windows were offset a bit from the seat. So when I would drift off to sleep, I’d end up with my head against a bolt between the windows. The bus would hit a bump, my head would bounce against the bolt, and the pain would wake me up… for about three minutes until it happened all over again.

And now I read that insomnia may trigger Alzheimer’s. Just great.

11 comments

  1. Actually, here’s the problem: you’re still in seventh grade and you’re still on the bus on your way to school. You’ve just drifted off to sleep in the last ten seconds and everything that (you think) has happened to you including Clemson, Cope Hall, Damn Fine Coffee, your APUSH students, 9/11, first African-American president, the Star Wars prequels, myself and this comment to your post, is an incredulous dream that your young mind has made up, and look now, your head is starting to drift towards that window and the driver is nearing that pothole in the road.

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    1. I don’t want to detract from the original theme of this blog post (which is infinitely more interesting than the crap that George Lucas spewed out) but the only thing that they got right with the Star Wars prequels was the 20th Century Fox logo.

      Otherwise, it was complete garbage.

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  2. @Dr. Bassi: I have no trouble believing that I’ve imagined everything since 1987, but I find it far more plausible that we’re all figments of Baukman’s imagination.

    @JackBristow: “almost”?

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    1. I still have that sliver of hope that Lucas is going to come out one day and say “Gotcha!”, then show the world the REAL prequels.

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  3. So now I have to explain to Mrs. Hmnahmna and Yvette Hmnahmna and little baby Jefferson Hmnahmna that they are all figments of Dom’s imagination.

    Hey Dom – can you imagine me some more flights in first class?

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    1. Instead of first-class flights, I’ll imagine you a big lottery win so you can be home more than fifteen minutes at a time. Are you even on this continent right now?

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