03/22/2014 10:08 am ET Updated Mar 22, 2014

How Did Sleep Become So Nightmarish?

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My experience with insomnia began when I was 6 or 7, though I didn't recognize it as such. In those days, I thought of it as a gift. I had a window that faced east, and in the mornings, a sweet, clear light would pour over my bed, rousing me from the middle of my dreams. I went to bed late and woke up early, and when I did sleep, I slept lightly, waking many times in the night to register the clocklike clicking of a raccoon's claws on the roof, an especially noisy frog or the breathing and muttering of the house as it rolled and shifted position with the temperature, my fellow restless sleeper.

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