tfw: You Can’t Sleep Because Of Alarm Clock Anxiety

tfw is a mini-essay series I’m try to do on Tuesdays to recount second-person experiences of feelings and experiences we all have. Or maybe I’m the only one who has them?

You go to bed early because you have to be up early. At 5:20AM. You have to be up, you have to take your dogs out, and then you have to go to work. It’s early. You used to wake up earlier so it’s not that crazy. What is crazy is that—unlike then, unlike in college—you can’t take a nap in the middle of your day. You can’t skip a part of your day just because you need quick R&R. You are an adult. You have to get adequate rest.

So you go to bed by 10PM on the nights that you have an early morning, on Sunday nights through Wednesday nights. You usually don’t shut off the lights to actually doze off until 11PM. Give or take. It depends on the night. You usually read or watch some YouTube videos or pet a dog before sleeping and, most of the time, you are tired and ready to sleep.

Not on Sundays. You’re always a bit awake. You’re always restless and you’re also a bit hungover and high from all the sleeping you got over the weekend. You slept in until 10AM on Saturday! This morning you even slept in until 8AM. It felt good. Unfortunately, your sleep bank is too full when you try to sleep. So, you can’t.

You think. “Is my alarm clock on?” you bounce around your head. “Did I turn it on?” You consider opening your eyes to double check your alarm. You do open your eyes: your alarm is on. You close your eyes. You lay. “Maybe I need to turn off that music? It usually helps me sleep.” You keep laying. You almost fall asleep then something in the song changes. “I should turn off that music.” You keep your eyes closed. The song stops and, since it’s some ambient thing playing underneath the noise of your fan, you can’t tell if it’s still on or if it turned itself off. You lay. You open your eyes and you look at your phone and your turn off the music because you can’t be distracted. You lay.

Then you’re asleep.

Then you’re awake and you lay. You think, “What time is it?” You think that if you look at your phone then time will suck itself through a straw and it will be five minutes until you have to be awake and, like it was when you were in high school, you will have to lay next to your clock trying to go back to sleep with a few minutes to spare even though you know it is impossible for you to fall asleep, enjoy your sleep, and get out of sleep within five minutes. So you lay, try to sleep, and lay until you open your eyes to look at your clock.

It’s 2:30AM.

You go back to sleep elated, so happy you have all this extra time to sleep…then you wake up again. This time you know it’s time to wake up. You know that you blew it and fucked up overslept and that you are going to be in trouble with someone at work. You lay. You think that you aren’t wrong and that your alarm is on. You forgot that you double checked it a few hours ago. You lay. You open your eyes and look at the clock: it’s 3:20AM.

You go to sleep. You lay. You wake up. You look at your phone. It’s 4:35AM. Should you just stay awake now? Maybe you should just get up and exercise or do some work. It’s only an hour extra? And you’re fairly awake now. You lay, though. You close your eyes and you lay and think that this final near hour of sleep is going to be the best sleep of the night.

But you never do sleep. You lay and think about how you aren’t sleeping. Your quiet thoughts are so loud that you cannot sleep and you realize that you really, really should have just gotten up. So you look at your phone: 5:05AM. Do you get up now? That’s still fifteen minutes of sleep you can have.

So you lay. You think about how this happens every Sunday night and how no one else you know does this because they don’t have to wake up at an hour that is so slightly stressful that you spend half of your night sleepless, hoping that you don’t miss your alarm clock. No else you know has nights of restless sleep anxiety. Even though you are convinced your alarm clock isn’t working you actually just slept too much the day before. Too much sleep is ruining your sleep.

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