Right before I actually fall asleep I sometimes have this realization that I’m falling asleep*. As soon as my mind grabs hold of this knowledge I suddenly find myself unable to sleep. It’s kind of like it realizes that I’m onto it and it needs to abort the whole thing. So I look at the clock, shift uncomfortably in my bed, and finally sit up and do something that doesn’t involve sleep.
Why would my mind and body react this way when I contemplate my transition into the realm of sleep? Probably because sleep is the closest a living human gets to death without actually dying (with the possible exception of being in a coma or being a Cincinnati Bengals fan).
My mind seems to grasp this concept and does whatever it can to keep me awake. This will usually result in unpleasant thoughts about an ex or wondering if I’ll wake up only to find out the rapture happened and I am one of the people left behind. This leads to thoughts of how I would survive if this scenario took place and who else would be with me. Of course this leads to thoughts of who else would be left with me and if any of my friends would be there or if I’d have to make all new friends and if these friendships would be genuine or if they would solely be based on the fact that we’ve been left behind and we might as well be friends.
But to get back on track (insert a shameless plug for the upcoming coverage of the Kentucky Derby here), sleep is really the closest we get to death before our bodies give out on us. That’s the only reason why we sleep. Our bodies get tired and need to take a knee for awhile. Death is just the ultimate knee. It’s why death is sometimes reffered to as “the big sleep”.
When you sleep you give up control of yourself (theoretically speaking anyway). You trust your body to do all the things it’s supposed to do without your waking mind there to keep everything in check. This loss of being in charge (again theoretically) is kind of scary. Losing control is one of mankind’s biggest fear. Not having dominion over something makes us feel hopeless and uncomfortable. This is why most people adhere to a certain schedule and routine. To do otherwise is just too frightening.
But eventually we get tired and give in. And we allow ourselves to let go of our grasp and hope that everything runs smoothly. Which I guess is a good thing considering that sleepy people are often cranky people and no one likes a cranky person.
*This thought tends not to matter after a night of heavy drinking or the use of prescription strength sleep aids.