Normally, I enjoy very peaceful, restorative sleep. I'm suitably tuckered out from my daily activities to drift off fairly quickly, I slumber deeply through the dark hours (without any dream memories--stay tuned, more on that later), and I wake up under my own power refreshed and ready to do it all again. With apologies to any insomniacs out there, why do I mention this? Because yesterday I uncharacteristically tossed and turned through a disjointed night of restless, interrupted, unable-to-get-comfortable, wired-brain twilight dozing. When it finally ended, I felt like a cantankerous Sandman had--instead of merely paying a gentle visit to sprinkle me with soothing sleep dust--run over me instead...while driving a dumptruck...and delivering a truly bizarre dream as a "bonus".
In my worse-than-usual fog this morning, I tried to figure out why on earth this had happened. The first thing that sprang to mind was a sneaky culprit: caffeine. You see, a week or so ago I decided that the acid in coffee might be irritating my stomach, so I switched to the powdered Mocha Capuccino mix I'd bought to make the kids' hot chocolate...which happens to be decaffeinated. I noticed that I yawned a little more than usual for a few days, then my body seemed to adjust and I didn't miss the stimulant effect any more. But yesterday for some reason I decided to make a real cup of coffee. WOW, what a mistake! My hands shook for hours, I felt strange all day (hard to pinpoint exactly how, just a little..."off"), and then I experienced that weirdly disrupted night of non-rest. Coincidence? I think not.
Now, to the dream portion of our self-sleep-study. We have a mixed bag of dreamers in our house. Husband and Derek seem to remember theirs more frequently, and will recount silly tales of comical mischief or mayhem or just...ridiculous situations, as tend to be created by our subconscious when we're asleep. I've already mentioned that I rarely hold onto any details of my nighttime musings. But Riley, whether because he has a very sensitive nature, or due to that wildly overactive imagination of his, has been prone to nightmares, at least lately. A few nights ago, in fact, he slunk into my room at about 10 p.m., plopped himself down with a heavy sigh, and announced in a quavery voice, "I can't stop thinking about tarantulas." Proud parenting moment: I did NOT laugh! Oh no, I immediately began replacing the image of creepy crawly hairy spiders with creatures he likes, such as ducks and frogs and turtles and...bunnies. (For that extra bit of cute, fluffy...non-venomous appeal, ya know?) So I guess maybe I had dreams on my mind more than usual. And the caffeine, did I mention that I was waaaaayyyyyy over-juiced yesterday?
Without further ado, here is what remained stuck in my head from 3:45 a.m.'s cinematic mental masterpiece: there was a lady (I don't think it was me), her toddler daughter, and her husband. They lived in one unit of a garden-apartment-style building. La la la, all boring and mundane, right? Suuuure--until one day, some zombies started gouging a hole in the kitchen floor near the refrigerator, trying to tunnel their way into the apartment. (No, I don't know how my brain conjured zombies! Unless they drink java, too?) The woman notified the Zombie Response Team, who promptly showed up and deployed the most effective, high-tech tool available to them for repelling the undead: strawberry ice cream. That's right, they plugged the entry point with some of the melty pink stuff, then went on their way. However, the persistent monsters returned, snuck in, and managed to infect the husband. He was sitting on the couch, revving up to become a full-fledged, flesh-eating evil guy, when the wife barreled in and snatched the toddler away just in time. Then the mom and daughter fled the scene with only the clothes on their backs, living on the run and spending nights in their car. (Why? Who the heck knows...zombie pursuit risk?) Then I woke up. Thank goodness.
Sooooo...clearly, the demon caffeine is RIGHT OUT as a morning drink choice. (At least in a cuppa joe--I seem to be able to handle caffeinated tea and Pepsi One with no problem. One more thing I don't understand...) And although I tend to avoid The Walking Dead and other offerings in the zombie-genre, I may have to lighten up on the supernatural reading material a bit until this blows over. And spend some quality time before bed thinking about panda bears....and tiger cubs...and bunnies!