Sleep can telescope or collapse time, and can mess with our perceptions. Yet because it's something that we (usually) do every day, we regard it as mundane.
Sometimes we're not even aware that we are sleeping. How often have you seen someone asleep on a sofa, snoring, only to have them open their eyes and deny that they've been asleep? Sometimes, lying awake at night, I feel as if I haven't slept at all - but am aware that the time has passed too quickly for that to be true. I might have memories of things that happened during the night which, when considered in the literal light of day, are too fantastical to have actually happened. Conversely, sometimes people will tell me things I said or did which I don't remember at all.
Years ago, I woke up in the middle of an argument; I was furious that a friend refused to accept what I was saying. As I repeated my point over and over, my conviction faded until I realised that I was talking absolute rubbish. By the time I was properly with it, I couldn't even remember what it was I'd been trying to say. The friend, by the way, was genuinely present, and was somewhere between amused and baffled by their end of the conversation - apparently I'd appeared completely alert the entire time, forming sentences that were syntactically correct, but utterly meaningless.
I am a sound sleeper, and often my alarm clock intrudes into a reality which waking-me wouldn't recognise. The things I believe about this little, ringing monster beside my bed - and the decisions I can take while wrestling with it - often owe far more to dream logic that sense. I am, quite literally, not myself when only half awake.
Sleep is, by any definition, a mind-altering substance, and I wanted to write a story which explored the experience of living more permanently in that half-space between sleeping and waking.
Very interesting! Thanks, Elizabeth! Check out all the stories on May 31, 2021!