Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sleepless USA

Sleep..."which knits up the raveled sleeve of care..."

Sleep and I used to be the closest and dearest of friends. The arms of Morpheus were those of a gentle and familiar lover. At times I questioned a borderline case of narcolepsy. I worshipped at the altar of Linens & Things. Suddenly, without the least bit of warning, my Ship of Dreams was shot from the skies, crashed and burned. How could this be?? Sleep, my fond companion since birth, who had traveled in lockstep with me for the past 6 decades, was MIA.

It occurred to me that, perhaps, I was not the only one suffering from this form of sleep deprivation. With the coffee maker working on overtime, I sat down determined to get to the root of the problem. There had to be an answer, for after all, unless you milk cows for a living, 3 AM is not a civilized hour at which to arise. The cow element lacking in my life, I needed to find an answer and fast!

I started talking with near and dear friends and family, those who knew how truly deeply my love affair with sleep went, and how it had become, seemingly overnight, an unrequited one. What I found went deeper than I could have imagined. And it is a very scary prospect, especially since so few seem to have any idea on how to reverse this sleepless in the USA trend.

It seems that since the outset of the Shock & Awe campaign into Iraq, many Americans have been suffering this same loss of sleep. Was I to believe that I was a late bloomer on this front? I had been an opponent of the misadventure into Iraq since the first shots were fired, and it was now just catching up to me? I thought not, so I decided to call on the expertise of a close friend , a psychologist, and get her take on the matter.

What she had to say gave rise to new feelings about the Two Americas (John Edwards would be so proud of me!). We now have a Somnombulistic America and a Sleep Deprived America. Who knew?!

Sleep, as the poet said, knits up the raveled sleeve of care, and most of us
upon retiring at night, fall into what we consider a deep, dreamless sleep. Even though we do dream, most dreams are not vivid or harsh enough to disturb our slumber or for us to even remember that we have been dreaming. Things that have provoked us, made us uncomfortable, and otherwise messed up a lot of our days, are subconciously released when we sleep and dream. Those things, in our daily lives, which present in more worrisome aspects during waking hours, may come to us in sleep in the form of a nightmare.

Then we have the somnambulists Those creatures of the night who feel the need, urge, the necessity of arising from their beds and strolling about the house, back yard, down the street...always in a state of sleep. Their daytime fears obviously manifest themselves in a rather bizarre dream state. Most, thank heaven, manage to avoid any serious injury while in this dreamlike trance. While fear, worry and stress can make some of us "lose sleep", others apparently are in the trancelike state of somnambulism...our Two Americas. It is the sleepwalker who apparently sees nothing wrong in their day to day lives. In their minds everything is copacetic. The sleep walking, I should think, would tell a different story.

So, I guess my recent sleeplessness is tied more to the re-election in this country of Mr. Bush, and a fear that what started in Iraq is a slowly budding brush fire, which may end up anywhere in the ME, but seems deadheaded towards Iran. And, given Mr. Cheney's loose canon remarks of the other day regarding that country, it looks like in for a penny, in for a pound with this administration and their limited "nuke du jour" experiment.

To those of you who have been sleepwalking through the first 4 years of Mr. Bush's presidency, who slept walked their way to the ballot boxes last November, and, it seems, will continue in this vein, please, wake up! Look at the irreperable harm that has been done and continues to be done in our name by a bunch of bad children skipping school, not to mention keeping us up at night, worrying.

Susan B. Goodwin