I’ve had sleeping problems my whole life. The funny thing about going to a doctor for sleeping pills is you can tell them you’ve had sleeping problems your whole life and all they’ll do is hand you a pamphlet. It has advice on it like: Don’t get in bed unless you’re going to sleep. Don’t drink too much caffeine or alcohol. Exercise frequently, but don’t do it too late. Advice like this feels like being told to spit on a house fire.
When I was 20, I lived in an apartment with my boyfriend. He woke every morning at five so he could be at work by six. There was a big aquarium in our bedroom, and the apartment was poorly ventilated, so it was always humid and hot. Consequentially, after he went to bed I went into the living room, where I left both of the big windows open. I liked to drink, and I liked to watch TV. Court TV – that was my favorite channel. The sofa was right next to the window.
Court TV played shows like Cold Case Files and Forensic Files in a seemingly endless loop. So I sat there, watching things about bodies and death and violence. I’d smoke cigarettes on the steps outside our door during the commercial breaks, and I’d hear things in the bushes and on the street and think about all the sketchy-looking people who roamed the neighborhood. I’d go back inside, and think about how the window was right next to my head, and how a knife could cut through the screen so easily, and how my boyfriend slept as soundly as a rock. I’d become drunk and I’d become afraid, and shortly after, I’d fall asleep. No struggle, no turning of gears – the sleep on the couch, in front of the murder shows, came soft and easy. I still woke up after a few hours, but at least now I could get to sleep.
Court TV became Tru TV and started playing shows about traffic cops. I stopped paying for cable, and bought DVDs about serial killers instead. Netflix started streaming their shows, iPads were invented, and every episode of Dateline got uploaded to YouTube. And...
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