One of the things that I sort of committed to doing and have been pretty successful at so far is getting more sleep. I’ve always considered myself a night owl and up until recently, I’d been doing a fair job of functioning on little sleep. This was often out of necessity, what with school and all, and out of sheer defiance, my reasoning being that I had so little time to just do what I wanted, that I was damn well going to stay up until 2 a.m. on weeknights watching TV.
But a combination of my schedule easing up a bit and, I think, just getting older made me start falling asleep earlier and getting into a better rhythm. I’ve going to bed by 11:30 most nights for a few months and it’s pretty fantastic. I can’t say that my mood is greatly improved because there are a lot of other factors at play there, but I’m at least not as tired and can get up earlier.
I’m also noticing that my dreams have been getting weirder.
Last night was a particularly unrestful night of sleep. I was woken up by the husband climbing into bed after his DJ gig and reeking of stale cigarette smoke, by the cat who was looking for the perfect position around my head and kneading the pillow and pulling my hair in the process and purring incessantly, two or three sneezing fits that were probably a result of the cat sleeping on or around my face, and a nightmare.
The nightmare woke me up and when I finally settled down enough to go back to sleep, the narrative of the nightmare picked up roughly where it left off and I think there are few things more upsetting in life than not being able to shake a bad dream.
This particular nightmare was obviously influenced by me joining the viewership of the new series V and by dousing myself in super-depressing stuff like The Road. But it was a classic anxiety-horror dream in which the world was being colonized by aliens and as eye-roll-worthy as that plot would normally sound, my kid was involved and it took a turn for the terrifying.
All of the children were taken from their parents and surreptitiously replaced with doubles. And what made it weirder was that the doubles didn’t know that they were doubles. The child who had inhuman insides clung to me as he got sick and called me “Mum” and when he spotted my actual son in whatever holding area he was in, he whispered, “There’s a little boy who looks just like me!”
It was terrible, holding and nuzzling this creature who was a perfect facsimile of the person that I love most in the world, realizing that he was not, in fact, my child and that this creature would eventually come to destroy me and everyone else in the world, including my actual kid.
When I fell asleep again and the nightmare returned, it was later in the ordeal and the husband, who was very ill at this point, and I were desperately hiding. But some horrifically loud machine started pulling at the building that we cowered in. We didn’t scream, though, because neither our child nor his sinister double were with us, indicating that we had already lost everything.
When I woke up, I realized that I had accidentally shut off my alarm and slept in a little, which meant that it was a little too sunny and quiet. I couldn’t shake the dream for a long time, and when I stood with the baby at the bus stop, I had to keep blinking to understand that the world was still more or less the same as it was yesterday.
I don’t subscribe to any theories about dreams having real meaning. But they do come from the subconscious. And, if we are indeed made up of the same material as the stars and the planets, making us as much a part of the infinite as the Sun and the Moon and the bizarre and wondrous nebulae, perhaps dreams are just our brains running through all that is possible, having a break from our daily rational existence in what is probable.