Monday, October 20, 2014

Sleep..

.. or lack thereof.

Many of my friends (and you know who you are) suffer from chronic insomnia. My sleeping patterns over the years have changed, naturally, as we get older everything changes, so why not sleep patterns. When my children were babies and growing up I, like all mothers of young children, slept when I could and generally spent the waking hours like a zombie, it is normal and fortunately short lived. Though at the time I felt no one had it as bad as I did. My first child didn't sleep through the night until he was 3 years old, and when I say he didn't sleep through the night, I mean he woke 10 or 12 times each and every night. During those three years I had two more pregnancies and two more babies who also woke at night at least for the first few months, but at least only for normal feeding routines.

As you can imagine, I have little or no patience for people who complain about lack of sleep, even now, or maybe especially now?

I remember my father talking, without any complaint, but purely statement of fact, about how as he aged he slept less.  He woke regularly at 4 a.m. and spent a few hours reading until the rest of the world awoke. He, like most men, happily indulged in what I call the great American 'Nap', though it is not just Americans who enjoy this pass time as my father was Irish, it is much more normal here, in fact it is almost obligatory, at least for men.. or so they say, at least in Texas.. at least in our house.

My sister, a self professing cat person, can survive happily on cat naps. I will be totally antisocial if I nap during the day. No matter how tired I am, I know better than to take a nap, I will regret it, as will all those around me.

I was always a morning person, I love that quiet time when the rest of the inhabitants of my immediate surrounds are fast asleep. I love to be able to think without interruption, without television. I have a hard time with television.  Why do people need to turn that thing on even when they don't intend to watch it? But that is another blog I think...

As I got older, yes, most probably menopause related, I started waking frequently throughout the night, and waking earlier and earlier in the morning. Of course, being a morning person, after a limited attempt at sleep, I got up and enjoyed the morning. I do also feel that time sleeping is time wasted even though I do know we need sleep to survive, I think it is such a waste of life. However for years I thought it was just an age related thing that I slept about 5 hours per night, waking at least 5 or 6 times during those 5 hours. Yes, I got back to sleep almost immediately, so I didn't see any need to complain. A night where I slept 5 hours without remember if I awoke was a very good night indeed.

So, imagine my surprise when suddenly I started sleeping almost 8 hours a night - with maybe only two or three remembered disturbances!? After ten years of the same sleep pattern what could have changed you ask?  Well, that was not a hard question to answer. I refer you immediately to my previous blog regarding change - I finally listened to the Universe and realized that I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing. I took life by the proverbials and changed it and here I am sleeping, not like a baby.. well, yes, maybe a bit like a baby because I still wake two or three times a night, and still on rare occasions my restless legs will trouble me, but more often it is my restless mind, but I get back to sleep almost instantly, the good thing is that I sleep for at least 7 hours each night.

How did I do it? I embraced change and I found a job where I was challenged and happy.

So, next time I find my sleep patterns unacceptable perhaps I will take action somewhat sooner. And, to my friends with insomnia issues (not related to essential medication and you know who you are) I suggest you look at your lives and make changes accordingly.

Just saying...

I did try to relate my sleep patterns to some form of research, but apparently the sleep foundation didn't consider stress as one of the reasons for sleep pattern distortion. However in the interest of full disclosure here are two links to take a look at.

The Sleep Foundation
and
Help Guide