Ordinarily I lie down and within a few minutes I'm blissfully asleep. That wasn't always the case, though. When I was a little kid I used to have the most inordinate troubles sleeping--I'd see things in the patterns on the wallpaper or the curtains, I'd worry about 'how' to fall asleep, I was leery of the dark; you name it, I had it as a sleep trouble. As a result, my bedtimes as a little boy were always filled with sturm und drang, trials and tribulations. I don't know how my parents kept from strangling me.
Sometime in late grade school all that changed. Perhaps I was coming home more tired, perhaps I was less inclined to see things in the wallpaper patterns or maybe I was just learning to control my extravagant imagination. Either which way, I was sleeping better. As I got older I began to be interested in the eastern philosophies, discovered meditation, and soon found myself able to further enhance my ability to fall asleep by auto-hypnosis: by telling myself over and over that I always fell asleep promptly and without problems my body began to do just that. One of my small triumphs over my mind.
This is not to say that I don't sleep well constantly. No, such isn't the case. I'm still a dreamer, still have the occasional nightmare so vivid that it starts me straight up in bed at night. Earlier in the year I had the most vivid nightmare that there were poisonous snakes in the bed, and so REAL was the thought that there was genuine danger in the bed (never mind HOW snakes got into the bed, they were simply there!) that I sort of fell out of bed, whipped the covers and blanket off my sleeping spouse and started demanding that she get out of bed, that she was in grave danger of being bitten. It wasn't for a long, terror-filled minute or so that I finally gained my faculties and realised that it was just a dream.
Needless to say I slept alone the next few nights, and stopped eating that brand of cheese dip.
The other downside to my nightmare behaviour (other than trying to protect my bed partner from imaginary serpents) is that I'm very physically active when I dream vividly. I thrash, I sweat; I make noises, my hands clench, my legs jerk and I have even been known to clench and unclench my jaws and grind my teeth as though I were eating. When I dream I wake up physically exhausted, like I've been through a wringer or run a marathon. As an added bonus I seem to almost always carry the dream images around with me. Not always, fortunately, but mostly, and the mood seems to stay with me all day if not longer.
Last night was another memorable one for nightmares. We went out with family friends to a local grill and thence to see Will Smith's "I Am Legend." A decent bar-n-grill meal, an excellent movie, and a late arrival at home--I'm not a late night person anymore so needless to say I was tired out and hit the sack immediately.
I guess it was a combination of the horrific creatures from the movie and a generous dollop of french fries mixed with hamburger grease that set my mind to dreaming, vividly. I won't bore you with specifics, it was mostly the "being chased through quicksand by something very dangerous" type. No matter the subject, they were truly bad dreams. I rose from sleep to that almost-awake point several times during the night but never quite managed to wake up all the way. I do know that I was doing a fair amount of thrashing and moving: I'd come almost awake each time with the sheets wadded around me or Mrs. I would be elbowing me to make me move back to my side, and at one point I remember her waking enough to tell me to stop gnashing my teeth. It was BAD, ladies and gents.
This morning, bleary and loggy from lack of sleep and a very physical, restless night I surveyed the damage--the top blanket was on the floor on my side, the big comforter all shoved (kicked, I guess) down around the foot of the bed. The sheets on my side were clammy with sweat, one pillow was on the floor with the light blanket and the other one, my feather-filled 'main' pillow was damp with saliva and was actually torn open at one corner. The stuffing had come out during the night's exercise, making one hell of a mess; there were tiny feathers all over the bed and me, stuck tight with dried sweat. Proof positive (like I needed it) that I had suffered a horrific nightmare--I had somehow quite literally chewed a fist-sized hole in my nice feather pillow while enduring the nightmares.
Needless to say all day I've felt a little down in the mouth.
post scriptum: The trick to telling a really