It came back to me, just in the last 5 minutes. A memory. This isn’t “remembering,” but a memory – there is a difference, at least in my world.
To me, remembering is a past-tense thing. Remembering is when you stroll through the spongy halls of the lump of synapses between your ears, find the right file cabinet, and pull out the index card of the moment in question. It’s dead, lifeless…just some information that was inscribed and put away. Not so with a memory.
No, in my world, memories are alive…electrical currents that still have their full charge, lurking in corners that they don’t belong and stirring up trouble. In the world of post-traumatic stress disorder, that’s the difference between remembering and a memory. So what is this memory? Are you excited to know? Even a little intrigued? I will reveal it to you, knowing full well that it will likely mean little to you – because you have no awareness of the context. Nevertheless, the subject it addresses is important to each of us. The memory was about sleep.
I was in a combat environment, working for the U.S. Navy, (in a place that shall remain nameless), and had been in this environment for several days. The stress was extreme, and I had not slept…for days; not even a 5-minute catnap. I can recall, tonight, a comment that I made some 25 years ago to one of my buddies with me at the time. I said, and I meant it in the greatest seriousness, “I would let someone cut off my left arm right now if they would let me sleep.” As God is my witness, I would have made that deal at that moment. In the event, I didn’t get that sleep until more time had elapsed, and I am still in possession of my left arm. Today, restful sleep is as foreign to me as speaking Swahili – fatigue and pain has been my constant companion since then.
Most people will, thankfully, never know that combination of stress, the possibility of immanent death, and extreme sleep deprivation. But you don’t have to be in that spot to suffer the very real, adverse effects from not getting enough sleep.
If your body doesn’t get enough rest – enough full, recuperative sleep – it will begin to decay at an alarming rate. Decision-making is compromised, attitude suffers, and the muscles of your body don’t get their window of time to re-build. When this happens, over time, you get pain – all over body pain that doesn’t go away. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. The longer the lack of recuperative sleep goes on, the more damage the physical body and mind will incur. This problem is invariably married to PTSD, but you can suffer from sleep deprivation whether that condition exists or not.
Bottom line, get your sleep. Make it a priority. Proper and restful sleep will do wonders for your outlook on life.
Many Blessings To All…
Gawain of the Coire