It’s ridiculous really, how much time I spend thinking about sleeping as opposed to actually sleeping. I like to imagine how different my life would be if I could somehow, magically, become a morning person. But, in order to do that, one would have to have gotten a solid rest the night before… What, exactly, is holding me back? The obstacles I described in my earlier post are legitimate and real, but they are not the whole story.
Historically, I’ve been a night owl. As a younger person, I chalked it up to my unique circadian rhythms and frequently claimed it was a sign of my higher intelligence. Both of those things are contributors, of course, but I think there might also be a connection to my weird relationship with or perception of TIME. *
I seem to have no awareness of the passage of time. “I was only going to read the message board for 10 minutes, why is it 1:00 am?”
I feel like I really can’t substantially start a project until I am confident I have an apparently endless horizon of uninterrupted time in front of me. That is why I have often done work or projects late at night – all those hours of nighttime stretching out before morning. But time goes by in a flash and soon it is 1:00 or 2:00 or 3:00 am and I really haven’t gotten into my work yet, but I am too tired to go on.
Or, I’ll keep thinking I have just enough time to do one more thing. In the evening, this means I’ll try to do one more load of laundry, or sort one more pile of mail. I’ll do the same thing in the morning before I leave the house for work, and again in the late afternoon or early evening before I leave the office. Just one more thing mysteriously stretches into two more hours.
I do not judge transportation time well at all. This is a problem for my goal of getting to work on time. I always assume perfect driving conditions and I never build in time for detours, slow traffic, weather, etc. I know this about myself, but I do it anyway. I really think I can make a 20-minute trip across town in 15 minutes or less. Sometimes I can pull it off, but I have the speeding tickets for when I didn’t.
I think I can accomplish superhuman tasks in one weekend and I become very depressed when Sunday evening comes and I didn’t catch up, again! Sunday night tends to be a danger zone for me in terms of staying up too late.
I used to try to schedule my time in 15-minute intervals. 6:30 am – get up, go to bathroom, 6:45 am – take shower, 7:00 – get dressed. It never worked. In order to get to bed on time, I’ve tried working backwards from my desired bedtime to schedule wind down activities to lead me into bed. It doesn’t work well. I have no problem ignoring directions I’ve given myself. That’s part of what I hope to get out of blogging my patheticisms – a sense of accountability that I would never give just to myself.
I can’t even tell time very well on a regular clock with hands. I have to stop and think, “The little hand is on the…” But, I don’t do much better with a digital clock. I have often made the error of thinking 7:50 means I still have half an hour until 8:00. Why, oh why, aren’t clocks on the decimal system?
When I was a student in school, in the fall, when we set clocks back an hour, I always felt as if that extra hour was magical. I would use that extra hour to “catch up” on whatever class I was behind on… of course one hour did not make that much difference, but I didn’t know that! I usually “wasted” it anyway. Weirdly, the spring and fall time changes really mess me up. You’d think I wouldn’t even notice, since I have an extremely irregular sleep schedule anyway. I guess it’s because my wake up time is pretty constant, regardless of when I went to sleep?
My typical pattern has always been to stay up crazy late one or two or three nights in a row (past midnight) and then, because I really am tired after a few days of that, crash relatively early for a few nights, and then start the cycle over again.
Wait, there’s more! When I was a younger chick, my husband said I would be asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, practically in mid-sentence. Of course I fell asleep instantly – I did not go to bed if I could fight off sleep for one more minute. I would do that thing kids do when they don’t want to take a nap but they are so tired they are wiggling their feet all around to keep themselves awake? I would literally do that to stay up just a little longer because either whatever I was doing was so much more interesting than going to sleep, or I had reached that point where you are too tired to go to bed. You know, that point where you are really tired, but you can’t seem to summon up the energy to somehow pull yourself up off the couch and get yourself down the hall to take off your bra and put on your sleep tee? So you just keep mindlessly flipping TV channels or scrolling through Facebook like a zombie?
Here’s the problem. I’m not a younger chick anymore. I’m a MENOPAUSE chick. No longer can I be assured of actual sleep once I get myself into my bed, no matter how tired. For the past two years, I’ve experienced night sweats or hot flashes while sleeping. Multiple times a night, I wake up hot, kick off the covers, toss and turn, then start shivering and pull the covers back up.
While night sweats have eased off (not gone away, mind you, but lessened somewhat), lately I’ve been experiencing good old-fashioned insomnia. Just lying awake during the night for no good reason, trying not to toss and turn so much that I disturb my husband. Meanwhile, his every sleeping snuffle and shift seems like a buffalo stampede through the room as I try to relax and drift off. It’s tough to get comfortable, so I lie there fantasizing about getting a king size bed so I could spread out a bit. When it’s no good and sleep is not coming, I just go ahead and get back up. Lying there wide-awake, staring at the ceiling in the dark is miserable.
I self-medicate for insomnia with Benadryl occasionally, but if I use it, I have to take it early enough in the evening that it will be worn off in the morning. Otherwise, I am way too groggy! It is a good help when I am at my wit’s end to try to get a full night’s sleep, but I avoid taking it too frequently. I talked to my doctor about it and he saw no problems in my occasional use as a sleep aid. I was actually sniffing around for a Lunesta prescription but my doctor didn’t go for it. That’s probably for the best. I tried melatonin as a “natural” sleep aid, but it did absolutely nothing for me. Be aware, I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. Nothing here should be construed as medical advice about Benadryl or Lunesta or melatonin or anything else. It would be considered bad advice if it was. I’m not even really taking Benadryl. I buy the much cheaper store brand.
Am I giving up? Nope. Not on getting good sleep, or having better mornings, or on eating better, or getting fit, or managing our money better, or decluttering my house. I’m going to keep working on all of these things and I will keep reporting my progress, or if I’m having lack of progress, I’ll keep exploring the why to figure out what my obstacles are. I welcome comments, if these are things you’ve struggled with as well.
*I shared portions of this post on a self-help message board in the past.