By: Emi F
I remember visiting my grandpa a few years ago when he was first diagnosed with sleep apnea, a fresh, new CPAP machine
sitting in his back bedroom. None of my siblings and I were familiar with it; we thought it would be something scary like those iron lungs we used to watch in middle school documentaries. He went to retrieve it, and we eagerly awaited his return like children at 6:00 A.M. Christmas morning.
I stare at my bright alarm clock, questioning why it has taken forty-five minutes for the 4:38 to change to 4:39. My mind is running like Forrest Gump—slow and steady, but it just keeps going. I always knew that my mom had insomnia, but it was truly unfathomable to me as I grew up how that was possible. I had no problem sleeping when I was in high school—in fact, my problem was probably sleeping too much! So what made my freshman year at Utah State any different? Was I stressed? Well, yes, but no more than I’d been in the past. Was I in love? That was definitely not the case. Was I anxious? Excited? Nervous? Happy? Scared? All these thoughts ticked past me like the minutes on my alarm clock. This is the third night in a row where I lay awake, not troubled by anything, simply just conscious. Everyone always says that the night is young, but if my life is patterned after this night, then it seems as if I will live forever.
“You look like Darth Vader!” exclaims my brother as my grandpa puts on the mask. We’re all very amused as we sit in the living room, throwing out every possible Star Wars reference we can think of and learning about the purpose of a CPAP machine.
I’m not an insomniac by any stretch. I’d like to label myself as more of an overactive thinker. The nighttime is the best time to process the events of the day, the tasks of tomorrow and the “should’ves” of yesterday after all. Most nights I can control it, but others it seems as though someone has set my brain on the highest setting of the treadmill downstairs, and it’s trying it’s best to keep up to speed.
“Basically, it just helps me to breathe better in the night. Sometimes I’ll go for a few seconds without taking a breath, and it helps remind me” My grandpa states.
He speaks as if the machine was his lifesaver, which in a way I guess it has been. With improved sleep habits, many of the health problems that he has suffered with have been minimized. He seems to be moving around better and he seems incredibly well rested. I’m very grateful for the technological advancements that have attributed to my grandpa’s improved ability to sleep.
In the words of Qui-gon Jinn from the Phantom Menace, “There’s always a bigger fish.” That resonates with me as I slowly but surely drift off to sleep in the short moments before dawn. There will always be things to think about. There will always be problems to solve, ideas to originate, schedules to solidify. In order to have a successful day, one must have a successful night.
My overactive thinking has tapered off over the years as I have come to realize that the only way for me to truly conquer each day is by letting myself rest. After all, every “bigger fish” I’ve encountered has been defeated as I get a good amount of sleep and wake up eager and ready to see what each day has in store. The Force is truly strong with me.