Imagine an Emotion, Craving, Dream, Obsession

Your narrator can’t sleep because they’re anxious and they’re anxious because they can’t sleep. When they tell someone they’re stressed, a stranger, family member, or friend tells them to relax. Emotions, cravings, dreams, obsessions, states of being can be dismissed oftentimes by society. Your narrator might be told that they are being dramatic, that they aren’t making any sense, to just stop eating or wanting or crying.

Like it’s ever been that simple.

As if your narrator has imagined the whole thing.

Read: An Open Letter to Sleep: We Need to Talk by Viktoria Shulevich

The tone of this letter differs from the more light-hearted complaint letter found in, An Open Letter to Santa Claus Regarding his Travel Plans. Here, we are presented with an author who writes a letter to Sleep, asking if they will return to her.

I know we’ve had some ups and downs over the years, and I accept responsibility for my part in it. I didn’t “get” you at first. I was cranky, a brat. I cried a lot, threw tantrums, refused to go to bed. I didn’t know how important you were. In my defense, I was also teething.

The playful tone is still present, but we are presented with a narrator who explores what many deal with daily: a lack of sleep. There are several ways the author might have chosen to approach this piece, but notice what we gain from the decision to humanize Sleep. This letter is a plea, a final bargaining chip for Sleep to return. In the above quote, we learn more about the author, and throughout this letter we learn how a lack of sleep impacts their daily lives.

I know routine is important to you. I go to bed at the same time every night, even if I have company. I tell them to enjoy themselves, there’s vodka in the freezer, and I go to bed because that’s what we agreed on.

Instead of sleep being something required to function, we are presented with a relationship filled with conflict and tension because one participant is not pulling their weight. The relationship is strained for all the reasons we recognize the beginnings of a relationship that is in shambles. Disagreements, two different people, growing apart, no one willing to meet in the middle. As the letter continues, we witness the narrator express their desire for sleep to return, how much she misses sleep, but also the lengths she is willing to go for sleep to return, concluding with the will to take drastic measure should sleep decide to stay away:

Sleep, this is not an ultimatum. I would never do that. But you should know that if you’re not there for me tonight, I’m pulling out the big guns. I’ve invited Ambien and Lunesta over, and you know they always show up with their Side Effects.

I hope you make the right decision. Either way, I’ll see you tonight.

What we gain from this conclusion is the knowledge that the narrator wishes to find sleep naturally but can’t. That the struggles depicted in this letter have led to this defining moment. What does this final paragraph say about the narrator? About this personified version of sleep?