In Bed With Jennifer L. Knox

My husband suffers from a disorder known as Sleep Fighting. We stole that joke from Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation, but it’s a real thing. He punches, jolts, and flinches all night long—like he’s being pumped with bursts of electricity. He’s 85% cuddling adverse and needs lots of space. He actually waits until I fall asleep then sets up a wall of extra pillows between us to keep me from crossing onto his side of the bed. I call it hypervigilance. Our dog, Stella, is the same way; she sleeps with her ears up. When my husband wakes up in the morning, he’s a real grouch. I try not to talk to him for at least an hour after.

But it’s hard not to talk because I wake up feeling like a Disney princess—not looking like one, but feeling like one: whistling and happy. “Put me in, coach!” I don’t why (I suspect it’s genetic) because I’m a terrible sleeper. All my life I’ve had a phobia about not being able to fall sleep. I think it’s because my parents used to make me go to bed in the summer when it was broad daylight out, and I’d just lie there for hours. In third grade, I started abusing Actifed because someone told me it would make me sleepy. I’ve ab/used sleep medications all my life. Currently, Ambien and Melatonin. I understand why Michael Jackson had a thing for anesthesia; my brain does not want to shut down either—it’s like a parasite. Once I fall asleep, I have nightmares that I’m being fired, again and again and again. “Jen, would you come into my office, please? We’ve been tracking your progress and have noticed several typos in your work…” [a knock at the door, a different pinch-faced HR troll pokes her head in] “I’m sorry to interrupt, but, Jen, would you come into my office, please?” Or I’m driving off a cliff, or getting my hand snatched off by a band saw, etc. All night long. Plus I snore like beast. People have told me they can hear me snoring from outside of a house.

So we’re getting a king-sized bed, which does not fit in our current bedroom. So my husband is knocking down a wall and making two small bedrooms into one bigger one. The construction is driving Stella nuts. She’s taken to crawling onto the bed (which she never does—she, too, dislikes cuddling and crowds), until we fall asleep, then sneaking back to her chair in the living room where she can keep an eye on things, with her eyes closed.

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