Sleeping Downstairs

When sleeping on the wrong side of the bed isn’t quite enough, and you still feel like a despair mole (a rare species that bury themselves beneath the physical manifestation of sadness rather than dirt), don’t fret! Here’s another top tip for digging your way towards the surface!

Get up on your feet, force them to march left, then right, left then right, until you’re at the top of the stairs. Clench your fists, grit your teeth, and pool all your effort into finally, finally moving. Your body might tell you to go back to bed, to stop wasting your time. Ignore your body, it’s stupid. Get all the way down those stairs, find the nearest sofa, and collapse.

Congratulations. You have achieved something today. A small something, but something nevertheless.

Wait, you might be saying. I don’t have a staircase, for I am but a humble flat tenant. Calm down, calm down, you don’t have to take stuff so literally, jesus. It’s more of a metaphorical going down the stairs, which isn’t an excuse to submit to your bodies complaining, mind you. So long as you’ve moved somewhere away from your bed, and you’ve found a blanket (feel free to bring one with you, it’s not cheating), you can still follow this top tip for surviving your annoying brain.

If you have a sofa to lay on, then you’re doing great, carry on as you were. If you don’t, find somewhere on the floor to lay down. Put the blanket under you or over you, whatever takes your fancy, both if you’re feeling brave. You could even make use of the cocoon technique, which involves laying the blanket down flat on the floor, then resting on it and rolling to one side, bringing the blanket along with you and eventually wrapping yourself up like a soft and cuddly Egyptian mummy. The important thing is that you remain largely uncomfortable. Wherever you are, you have to make sure you wish you were back in bed, or else this top tip simply won’t work.

Right. So you’re uncomfortable and away from bed. You cast the occasional internal glare, as if to say we both know you’re an idiot, me. Here’s where the magic comes in. Close your eyes. Try to sleep. Realise you can’t, because this just sucks. You stupid idiot.

Keep on trying, though. Keep your eyelids shut tight, and let the vague, disparate glow of the streetlamps outside remain as nothing but a barely tangible memory. Breath, deep and slow, like they tell the kid with anger issues to do because it honestly kind of works. Try not to think about things. Think about them anyway. Realise it’s not going to stop. This awful, endless feeling of nothing is here to stay. You’re a shell of a person, a ghost of your former self, a Tumblr cliché and a privileged idiot complaining about nothing. Shift and turn, try to make yourself comfortable, or something close to it at the very least. Think about all the life you’re wasting, all the time spent moping around that could be put to better use. Bend your legs into unnatural positions, trying desperately to keep your toes as warm as your shoulders. Contend with just how tiring the thought of tomorrow is, just how much dread it boils up inside you. Growl at this stupid, stupid idea.

I’ve never been able to actually fall asleep when I bring my heavy self, draped in a cloak of bedcovers, down to the living room sofa. I expect to slumber, thinking it’s somehow an obvious extrapolation of sleeping on the wrong side of the bed. It’ll convince my brain things are different, it’ll make me feel like things are going to be better one day. But then I feel my back start to ache and my head start to itch and then my eyes start to focus and I can make out all the little things scattered around the room. I end up playing a gloomy version of where’s wally, scanning around for that owl teddy I know someone left down here earlier, or listening for the sound of the dog and his steady, rhythmic breathing. I try and try and try to fall asleep, but I can’t, because now my brain isn’t even thinking about how distinctly eh everything is, and instead is just launching itself about the place like an excited monkey, clambering onto the window sill, the TV, the little table that’s much too short to actually use as anything other than a foot rest. I start to notice things, and can’t stop noticing them, and can’t stop fidgeting and itching and watching and thinking and-

The next step is to accept defeat. This is an important part of the process, see. Get yourself back up those stairs, back into bed. Feel your body sink deep into the sheer, brilliant soft of it all. Ignore the room, because you’ve slept here before so many times anyway, and it’s not like there’s anything new to notice. Start that painful journey towards dreamland once again.

I find that once I lug myself back upstairs, I fall asleep a whole lot easier. I feel good about my bed, and feel good about my room, and feel good about the way my covers keep me warm. I’m not quite sure why, but I can turn off my brain pretty quick, after all that hassle.

So, that’s my instructional guide on why it’s a good idea to try and sleep downstairs when the going gets tough. It won’t get rid of that lingering sadness, but it might just help get you to sleep. Tomorrow will come sooner, and that might not be such a bad thing. Who knows how bright the sun will shine? Who knows how quiet the storm clouds will be? The weatherman, that’s who. He’s not around right now though, so let’s just shut our eyes nice and tight, and find out for ourselves.    

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