Sleep Time

By Devin Dyer

Quite honestly I have no idea what I should write about. I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block that just won’t quit, so I’ve decided to write out the first thing I thought of when ruminating on my perception of time.

When I think of the way time passes when I’m asleep, I have trouble then getting to sleep. So much about it freaks me out. Sleeping is something I experience every night and yet if I were asked to describe what it was like I would be totally at a loss for words. I mean, how does one describe the sensation of sleep? When people try and relay their dreams it is an inevitably futile effort. How can someone ever truly tell the story of a dream? Personally, I think it’s impossible to ever do a dream justice in its retelling. The memories of dreams themselves are imperfect and fractured, so how could the story of those memories be any better? But, dreams are just a small part of sleep, they make up only a small fraction of someone’s sleep time. So why are they so important, what about the rest of the time you spend sleeping, what’s that like. It bothers me that I have no way of answering my own question. The closest I’ve ever gotten to understanding what it feels like to be asleep came from an irregular type of sleep I would get. I don’t know what caused it, and I’m sure everyone has experienced it, but I have a few distinct memories from when I was a kid, where I would close my eyes, just for a blink, not even to sleep, and then when I opened them I was awake the next morning. The feeling was surreal, but it was measurable. It was simply the feeling of opening and closing my eyes. It was like when I closed my eyes the lights were off and before I could open them someone turned the lights on. That was it. That’s all it felt like. It was a non-experience, a sensation I could describe but not understand. So, it was like the rest of my sleep, not understandable, but this type was more describable.

What happens on normal nights is still a great mystery to me. How do I think in the time I’m asleep. I know that the point of sleep is basically to not think, but its not like your brain literally turns off, it doesn’t die for a few hours and come back to life. When I’m asleep does it feel long? I certainly wake up with the firm knowledge and feeling that time has passed, but is that only because I know it has. If nobody ever told me that time passes when you’re asleep and nothing changed around me while I was, would I still feel the residual effects of the passing of time? I don’t know. So how can we ever really know time has passed when we can’t remember the experience of that time passing? These thoughts confuse me. Even writing this I’ve confused myself. These questions are nonsense, unanswerable, and yet I keep asking myself them. Maybe one day I will get the answer, and I truly hope I do. I want to know, what does the experience of sleep, the thing I will spend half of my life doing, actually feel like?