Trying to sink myself




My bed is a deep pool; my day is a boat.


From morning to night, I row across the hours until my shoulders ache. I want to throw myself overboard and sink into the depths of sleep.


I enter the pool, lying atop its surface, snuggling into the down comforter, and nuzzling the pillow. If I can sink into those waters, I can replenish myself.


I turn off all the lights in the room, but my brain refuses to turn out the little lamp in the corner where it keeps my files. It busies itself, quietly at first, but I cannot sleep if there are any lights on.


From that corner of my mind, I hear the rustling of the papers. Every time I feel myself sinking, my brain burps or starts talking. The words make me buoyant.


I lie on my back, roll to the left, need to scratch my foot, and then shift to my right side. What do I do with my right arm? I can’t rest lying on top of it. I put it out straight, then under the pillow, and finally across the top of my body. My hand is near my neck, and I feel like I’m choking myself.


Then I notice that my knee bones are pressing one another, so I pull one knee higher. If there were a camera on the ceiling, I would look like I’m running. I hope there isn’t a camera. My brain starts telling me a story of hidden cameras. I pull the covers over my head and try not to listen.


I rearrange my limbs in an effort to relax. I’ve thrown my body overboard, hoping to float down into the deep waters of sleep, but my mind clings tenaciously to the side of the boat. It makes my limbs thrash. Let me go, I beg.


But my brain wants to talk about what the boss said yesterday, the phone call I need to make, and the dumb thing I said to my coworker. My brain wants me to get back on that boat. When will it shut up? The body is willing, but the brain is not.


I roll onto my back and visualize myself as a stone, sinking into the mattress and pillow. I relax each part of my body, starting with my head and scalp. My face goes slack; shoulders release their tension. I continue until my toes separate, each one loose and mellow. One by one the fingers of my mind let go of the boat. My body floats atop the sea, dips beneath the surface, ever so slowly sinking down.


Then my husband opens the bedroom door, and the hall nightlight throws my brain a life preserver.


River bed

36 thoughts on “Trying to sink myself

  1. This is so cool. I’m always happy when my brain runs out of life preservers and lets me sink into the abyss. Well done. Haven’t commented in a while, but I’m still one of your biggest fans.

    • I have a wonderful bed, and every time I crawl in I am thankful for it. The mattress was made locally and is exceptionally well-made. But if you are going to spend a third of your life in it, it’s worth the investment.

  2. Totally relating and sympathizing with you, dear Year. Before I read your piece, I assumed you were going to talk about “sink holes” — maybe that’s a topic for another day! 😀

  3. harley

    So glad I was born a Razorback so my knees don’t match whilst abed…thanks so much for your other slumberosyncracies…I just know they will keep me awake for many hours trying to forget them.

    • I’m glad to hear there are advantages to mismatched knees. After reading your comment, I just realized that some people might find the idea of sinking into a pool of water the stuff of nightmares. 🙂

  4. Perfectly written! I think we all do that now and again. I could share what works for me – sometimes – and it lets the little light by the filing cabinet stay on until it sort of burns out on it’s own 🙂

      • Sure! I usually read myself to sleep, but if I can’t, or wake up in the night and the brain is churning I try to remember from page one all the events of whatever book I am reading. I usually don’t get far! It lets my brain work (which it clearly wants to do) without getting into any emotional territory that will raise my heart rate and add adrenaline and keep me up even longer. If you have an eidetic memory, however, this won’t help.

  5. winsomebella

    I am afraid if I wrote a blog post about my sleep habits it would be far less eloquent and filled with four-letter words 🙂 You said it well.

  6. Ahoy matey, welcome aboard. It is so frustrating to be in that situation, when the “Energizer Bunny” takes over your brain, when you’re really in need of “Snuggles” the bear. I do practice the relaxation technique that you mentioned, although I start with the toes and work my way up.. It does work most of the time I will say.

  7. Beautifully put. You’ve captured the whole scenario of that overworked brain trying desperately to let go and get some surcease. Just to turn the damned thing off and sink quietly into repose. And then the relaxation technique. Just as it kicks in and you’re ready to let go …. whammy …. something jars you back to life again.

    In my case it’s a huge siamese cat, who patiently sits beside me, monitoring my breathing patterns. As I slip into the blissful depths … she POUNCES. I have occasionally considered felinicide. .

  8. Oh, yes. Been there. Done all of that. You describe it wonderfully. That falling, sinking feeling, then *snap!* back to the top. Thanks for putting it all into words.

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