I’ve actually learned a good deal about myself through this blog, even though I’ve barely posted a thing. My error comes in thinking that I must have something honed to absolute perfection in a topic conceived from utter brilliance before I put it up here. This is wrong. The purpose of this site was to give myself the freedom to write what’s on my mind in a style different from my daily journalism voice.
So what’s on my lately? Sleep. Or lack thereof.
I have long considered sleep to be more of a problem than it is a help. I know that if I don’t have it, I become a walking automaton barely able to function, but getting it has always been a chore and an annoyance, at best.
Now, I’ve never liked it, mind. I never wanted to go to bed when I was a kid, and I never particularly wanted to rise in the morning when consensus reality told me it was time to get up. Those who know me well know a rebellious streak.
But even when I do slumber, sleep for me isn’t the calm, restful thing it is for most, apparently.
On one hand, I have sleep apnea — a condition that basically means I strangle awake dozens of times in an hour, just enough to break the sleep cycle but not enough to fully awaken. This deprives me of oxygen, and it prevents me from achieving a depth of slumber that’s actually effective in restoring energy. I’m supposed to use a CPAP mask — it stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – to fix this. But being hooked up to a machine while wearing a Darth Vader mask hasn’t worked all that well in practice. I have friends who use these things and insist that they’ve transformed their life and well-being, but try as I might I just can’t convince myself that this is a good idea. The terrible pressure sores I got on my nose and elsewhere from the mask the last time I seriously tried to do this didn’t serve to convince me of its efficacy, either.
I also have profound trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Actually, the latter hasn’t been a problem lately — I have to fight to stay awake sometimes in the afternoons, and I tend to crash out on the couch, much to Judie’s chagrin, sometimes as early as 9:30 p.m. That might actually be fine if I could stay sleep, restore my energy, then work on creating some actual sleep hygiene habits, but I can’t. Inevitably, I wake up around 1:30 a.m.-3 a.m., not necessarily restored but now awake enough that I want to do something. Trying to fall back asleep just doesn’t work, so I get up, read or play a game, watch a movie, do anything to distract myself for a couple of hours before I go back to bed and finally am tired enough to just crash out again for a few hours.
I used to pride myself on my lack of sleep since I was much better able to function without it when I was younger. But I’m getting a bit older now and take a ton of medication because of other health problems, all of which have “may cause drowsiness” as a potential side effect. You would think that might help, but all that I do is lately is want to sleep at exactly the wrong times, while being unable to sleep at the right ones.
If I could eliminate sleep from my life and still somehow feel refreshed throughout the day, then I would so with utter gladness and gratitude. Unfortunately, that’s a wish destined to not be soon granted. That would also eliminate dreaming, which I don’t necessarily want to give up — although it seems all of my dreams are about work and other stressors these days and not necessarily of the pleasant variety.
I do plan to try to get some better sleep habits in place, and I guess I need to try the stupid CPAP mask again. The thing is, though, for the mask to work, you need to use it with good sleep habits already in place. The therapy is designed to help those with regular sleep habits get the most benefit from sleep, and my habits these days are anything but regular.
So sleep is my mortal enemy — I’ll die without it, but I’m dying to do without it. Several people have suggested melatonin, but I’ll need to do some research to make sure that doesn’t interact negatively with any of the million million pills I’m on these days. We’ll have to see.
Pleasant dreams to the rest of you.