Every once in a while, I am plagued by nightmares. Yesterday was such a day. In the afternoon, my younger son took a nap, and I thought “this is my lucky day,” because it meant I could take a nap, too. This was welcome because the weekend had been a long one, rich with late lake nights and good company. I was somewhat sleep deprived, and accordingly lay down my weary head when the opportunity arose.
What a mistake that was.
I woke up about an hour later, dripping with sweat and hyperventilating from the dream I had just had. I was in a full-blown panic attack – it had been a terrible nightmare. Out of deference to the real-life innocents who were not so innocent in my dream, I won’t get into all the details of it – although I remember many of them well. As with most of the nightmares I have, this one involved being violently attacked (by two different people and a huge cat, in this case), kept somewhere against my will, and being chased when I tried to escape. This particular nightmare also involved a house fire, and a vehicular hit-and-run that left me dying in a ditch.
So realistic was it, that when I woke up, my hands immediately reached for a facial wound I had sustained in the dream. I was shaky and on edge for hours afterwards. And disinclined toward sleep when bedtime came last night.
Rightly so, it turns out. Sleep didn’t come until nearly three in the morning, and when I woke up less than three hours later, it was in another sense of panic from another realistically disturbing dream. More confinement, more chasing, more violence. This time, having first been shot, the dream ended with me possibly drowning or possibly being saved from a river rapids I found myself in. My head was going under, but someone’s arms were going around me when I woke up. There was slightly less panic than I experienced from the earlier dream, but it was sufficient that I jumped out of bed without a moment’s thought.
I wanted more than three hours of sleep, but I just wasn’t willing to risk it.