i have a problem. unless i'm exhausted, i cannot fall asleep unless the television is on. i guess it all started when i was a little guy.
for as long as i can remember, i've always fallen asleep to the sound of something. apparently, when i was young, i had this same problem, and my mommy provided me with a clock radio. it was one of my most favorite things in the whole world and provided me with endless sources of bedtime fun.
i can still remember some of those summer nights. i estimate that i was about 4 or 5 years old because i can distinctly remember the sun going down as i was going to sleep, which is roughly 8pm. i'd get changed into my glow-in-the-dark "transformers" pajamas. the air conditioner would have the room at the perfect temperature. my mom would tuck me in and kiss me goodnight. then, i'd eagerly reach for the clock radio. it had one of those touch snooze buttons that only worked when your bare skin grazed it (which was the inspiration for numerous kid experiments involving various fabrics and eventually, a string of paperclips, for remote operation, which introduced me to the idea of conductivity). the reception was excellent. and the most enchanting thing about it was the neon blue numbers which lit up my room and let me know how long before saturday morning cartoons started. i would crawl way down beneath my covers and pretend i was those new age 80's rockstars performing for thousands of people. and eventually, i'd fall into a deep sleep, all to the gentle sounds of my radio.
i think i finally got a TV in my room in 6th grade. i would still fall asleep to the radio, though. but then my dad ran cable for my room, and i fell in love.
around 8th grade, my parents bought a new VCR and i inherited the old one. at this point, i started ritualistically dozing off to tapes of either "the simpsons" or "alf". this habit continues today. i still sleep best hearing homer's voice.
and now i'm in college. it occurred to me just the other night how big my problem has become. normally, my roommate is asleep long before i go to bed. but on this particular night, i was beat. i turned on "comedy central" and gradually began the slow descent. suddenly, some very animal part of my brain detects movement. and then i hear that horrible noise.
my roommate turned the tv off. i was instantly wide awake. i didn't let on, though. he climbed into bed, i shut my eyes, and attempted to fall back asleep.
suddenly, my thoughts began to drift. i started thinking about my classes. i wondered if my girlfriend missed me. i wondered what my friends back home were doing. i wondered what my friends who went to other schools were doing. did i remember to flush the toilet? did i lock my car back home? is my family o.k.? is my girlfriend o.k.? what if they're not? would i know?! WOULD I KNOW?! etc.
i realized my heart was racing. my head was pounding. i could feel my pulse through every inch of my skin. and then the horrible truth came into focus. i can't sleep without some complicated background noise to drown out and distract my brain from all of my everyday worries. realizing this gave me some sort of temporary reprieve, but then my brain kicked right back into high gear. this was a serious problem. and apparently, i have some serious anxiety problems that i've been hiding from myself all these years.
i guess i can only hope i will eventually ween myself off the television because maybe next year i won't have a roommate as receptive to my "tv on all night" idea. maybe he'll be one of those people that needs utter silence and complete blackness (like my girlfriend). i really can't imagine a night like that. as for now, i'm gonna go lay down and hope i fall asleep before "comedy central" starts airing those horrible infomercials...