“Sleep is winning”

“Sleep is winning”. I vividly remember that line. It was from National Geographic’s documentary on Charles Lindbergh’s trans-atlantic flight.

Thousands of miles above the Atlantic ocean, as the ice fastened it’s chilling fists around the tiny Spirit of Saint Louis and the wee hours of the morning seemed to strangle the young pilot’s hope of ever seeing the bright rays of daylight again, he penned in his journal the line “Sleep is winning”. Narrated in an almost defeated tone, this line seared itself into my young consciousness. It’s stuck with me for the past decade – always meaningful – but never really meaning anything – until now.

Strangely enough – it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m currently tired and barely able to hold my eyelids apart. It’s taken on a different meaning – a larger, scarier, all encompassing meaning. It has become. It writhes and dances around me – chanting it’s incantations – daring me to continue fighting – demanding that I acknowledge defeat. Exactly what it has become I do not know. The difference between life and death? The difference between the past and the future. The here and the now. (Yes, the difference between the here and the now.)

No! It was not I who breathed life into this – what shall I call it, I wought not. I would have been more than pleased for “Sleep is winning” to remain simply a line in a National Graphic documentary that inspired a young girl to fly and provided a subject for her first celebrity crush.

I did not invite the curse to take on a life form, behaving so much like flesh and blood – so much like mist – so much like magic – so much like God. ‘Twas not I who linked it’s putative hand with the totalitarian regime of Father Time and set it to friendly relations with the overprotective and overbearing matriarch Mother Nature who watches us through the hawk’s eye and announces her censor through the crow’s scold.

“Sleep is winning”. I am beset both behind and before. Continually ambushed by a presence which transcends space, time and deadlines. “Sleep is winning”. The cruelest type of enemy rules with an iron hand. It knows not forgiveness but marches to the cold steel drum of Time.

“Sleep is winning” taunts me as I stagger to my feet. Haggard and ill – aging at a rate I had hoped only could be induced by Black Magic, I stand. The being surounds me – contact from all directions. I cannot fall so I stand – dazed. It retreats. I collapse.

“Sleep is winning” inhabits my collapsed form. It whispers into my brain – playing mind tricks until I think I have acceded. “Sleep is winning” – no that is not my thought I realize. I struggle to stand but cannot. My limbs – under the control of the monster will not move. Your bed is comfortable. Not my thought – I weakly reach for my computer. I am determined to resist.

I fight for every inch of consciousness. I fight to inhabit my own consciousness – I fight for control. I fight to free myself.

But “Sleep is winning”.
As unavoidable as gravity – as sure as the sunrise. As rigid as Time. To free myself would be to abdicate my existence. In defeating my demon I would ultimately defeat myself.

I embody a paradox. I search for a solution. It is impossible to make peace with “Sleep is winning”. I must maintain control. Yet – I must embrace the darkness. I must learn to dance his dance.

In learning him, he resolves out of an omnipresent mist – into a single entity. No longer the fearful chant “Sleep is winning” but now a single word: Sleep. An element. A state of being. Even a place of comfort and renewal. A luxury. A necessity.

As long as I exist – he will exist, and he will always win. Yes, he will always win and yet – I must learn to win.


The struggle continues. This is the struggle of any professional American woman in today’s age. As incompatible as sleep is with my lifestyle I’m learning how to make it happen. Especially since I’m also learning that beyond a certain point – yes I am still away – but I get sick for extended periods of time.

Tonight I make peace with sleep while you stand your ground, read this and wait, with coffee in hand for the inevitable attack happening between 6 and 7 in the morning.

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