My dysfunctional relationship with sleep started when I moved out of home at seventeen. Moving out of home was something I always wanted to do and was genuinely excited about it. But I never had any plan on how to navigate through this new phase of life. Staying with a room full of girls who came from different backgrounds, alarms going off as early as 3 am and the highly competitive environment made me feel overwhelmed. Depression and anxiety were yet to make it to my vocabulary and I was clueless about what is happening inside my mind. The only solution to the chaos was sleep. So I slept - day and night.
A typical day in my first year of college consisted of waking up in the morning, finishing off the bare minimum routine activities to be presentable and then lying down in the bed until it's time to start for college. Then at college, I would doze off in the class. At noon, I would be back at the hostel where I would sleep after having lunch. Every moment was spent sleeping and I was oblivious to what's happening in and around me. This phase lasted for a year and somehow I managed not to fail in any exams.
I was much better in the second year of college. Somehow I let go of the competitive spirit and accepted that I cannot always come first in every exam. College was never going to be like school. I had come to terms with my mediocrity and life seemed peaceful after that realization. Years flew by and it was time for another bout of depression. This time the relationship with sleep took a different form.
My life's greatest ambition has always been simple - It was to become financially independent. When I was close to achieving that dream, the world went through an economic crisis. It was not an ideal time for being a fresh graduate. The world looked so gloomy without any possibility for a revival. So I went back to my bed again. It was different. My eyes were closed, but I was acutely aware of what was happening around me. I never got the rest my body needed even though in other's eyes I was sleeping all the time. Even though my situation didn't change immediately after college, sleep became normal when I moved back home. In between, I took up menial jobs and was ridiculed by the extended family because you know there is no point in educating a girl.
Everything became a lot better after two years. I finally got a job that paid me enough to sustain myself and support my family. As I always wanted, I started living a completely independent life away from home also. Around this time, I got an opportunity to travel across India and to meet various people who have made an impact on this country. I was ecstatic and it is one of the most cherished experiences in this lifetime. Coming back to the regular mundane life after almost a month of continuous travel threw me out of balance. I had a hard time coping. This time sleep completely eluded me. I was restless and I had so much energy. I went to work, as usual, read all night, went for long runs in the early morning and still was not tired enough to sleep. This went on for some months and it was kind of a short welcome to the sleeplessness that follows me still.
Somehow oversleeping has never come back to me after my teenage years. Now it is always sleeplessness. I have tried various tips and tricks. Some things work out sometimes, but not always. So I cherish the days on which I get at least eight hours of uninterrupted and peaceful sleep. If this happens at least once a week, I am the happiest person in the world. Sleep, My Friend, is the topmost priority for me now. And this is how I am adulting.