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  • Writer's pictureSista Afya

An End to Fighting Sleep

by Ebony Johnson

The pandemic feels as if it has forever changed my relationship with sleep. Prior to current events, when there was an interruption in my sleep pattern, I always knew it was an indicator of something being amiss with my mental health. The likely cause being I worked myself up and stress found a way to keep me company, refusing to allow me to savor sleep. Somehow, I learned to work through exhaustion.

Quarantine brought new challenges. At first, I could hear my neighbors more than ever. This was small in comparison to what awaited. Then came the anxiety as the number of cases increased. There were high pitch sirens screaming across the city well into the wee hours of the morning. Then there were the helicopters trailing the protestors. And I will never forget the endless fireworks. Anger and anxiety about the state of the world greeted me more times than I can count.

Because 2020 has done of phenomenal job of creating some type of time warp, I can’t remember when this occurred, but I was so enraged by the happenings around me, I took a nap. I’ve taken naps before of course, and I’ve taken them throughout the quarantine, but this time was different. My body felt numb and I realized my soul couldn’t bear anymore grief. I woke up feeling a bit better, did what little I could, then returned to my slumber waking up the next day. I didn’t beat myself up about taking a nap and possibly disturbing my sleep schedule. I didn’t worry about what news I missed. And I didn’t really care about anything else at that moment. It felt wonderful.

It could be because I live in a big city or because my single mother always worked or because I’ve had demanding jobs myself; but I was once used to a lifestyle where I was always moving, always on the go. As an introvert, I made time for myself, indulging in various types of self-care. Nonetheless, they weren’t true focal points in my schedule. I’m used to functioning with always something to do and very little time to structure my day to my liking. With nowhere to go, the substitution became my cell phone, the news and more work. Nothing about that level of consumption was sustainable.

Whenever I’m tired, I now allow my body the break it craves. If I need to put my phone on do not disturb, I’ll do it. If I need to take a few hours off from work, I’ll do it. I’m extending grace to several aspects of my life due to the many changes from the pandemic. A great deal of that grace has allowed me to celebrate my physical health in ways I’ve never done before. I didn’t know just how tired I was. I have no desire to go back to a life where I ignore this basic need. I enjoy my rest.

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