I guess I've never been a great sleeper. Mum tells me that when my sister and I were little, she would hear us talking to each other and come in to tell us it was past our bedtime. She'd soon realise that creepily, we were in fact already asleep, but with our eyes wide open, having a nonsensical conversation from the depths of our subconscious (apparently one of them involved me telling my sister she was stupid for being scared a crocodile would come and eat her in the night, because obviously I would wrestle it and that would be the end of it. Yeah, we were proper Australian kids.)
I clearly remember, even in kindergarten, scheming how to get through our daily nap-time convincingly pretending I was asleep (something which came in handy at home too. The trick is to breathe very evenly and deeply until you are SURE your parent/teacher is no longer observing. Throw in a little sigh or something for good measure. You're welcome, fellow toddler insomniacs).
As a teenager, my distaste for sleep evolved into sleepwalking. I would wake up and find myself already dressed for school - except wearing a swimming costume underneath. One morning I found my fingers covered in purple ink -- I never found out what the product of that particular nocturnal artistic endeavour was. Other times I would wake up my parents in the middle of the night loudly demanding that they attach a piece of string to the wall or how the hell was I supposed to find my way back out of the cave, only to run angrily back to my bedroom with no memory of this in the morning. (I blame that one on too many British mystery novels).
But lately, I don't sleepwalk. I know this, because I regularly find myself staring at my clock at 3am (sadly, the time varies, so there's no chance of a spooky but interesting supernatural reason, such as a a ghost waking me up at 3.17am every day to impart an urgent message from the underworld. For starters, my apartment is too new to be haunted, and secondly I suspect it's not built on an Indian Burial Ground, so much to the disappointment of my inner 80s horror movie fan, that can't explain it either).
I've tried a lot of things - being physically exhausted; staying up way too late; red wine; no red wine; screen-free time; extra screen time; back to back episodes of Bojack Horseman or Rick & Morty (amusing, but depressing enough to make me want to go to bed); lavender candles; eye masks; hot baths; reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami which I unsuccessfully attempted to finish for 2 whole years before relegating it to the "True Detective Season 2 Honorary Category for Artistic Works I Have Decided Not To Waste My Time On Any More"; meditation; medication. Most of these things help me fall asleep, but nothing helps me not wake up around 3am, usually plagued by odd dreams and the sound of my ridiculously loud watch ticking away every second of my existence.
Maybe some of us are just wired on a different schedule to others. Then again, ask me at 7am any given day, and I'll tell you I'd gladly sleep for the next hundred years. On the plus side, I have managed to do a lot of email checking and Guardian-reading in the middle of the night, which means when I finally do manage to drag my sorry butt out of bed after snoozing the alarm three times, I have caught up. Nearly.