Springingtiger's Blog


Sleep Obsessed

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As anyone who’s read my Twitter feed is probably aware, I have a tendency to insomnia. Indeed a lifetime of irregular sleep patterns has made me a little bit obsessive about sleep. I have created rules and beliefs about sleep which I doubt have any grounding in reality, but can adversely affect my ability to awake refreshed.

If I can go to bed just after 22:00 ̶ preferably with a cup of cocoa ̶ I am happy. I read for a while and get my lights out by midnight. The longer I remain out of bed after 22:00 the more stressed I get. If I am still up at midnight I know the night will be a disaster, I won’t sleep well and I’ll be exhausted in the morning. How do I know? I don’t it’s a belief that experience tells me is true. Is it always true? Probably not, but my mind deletes the incidences that contradict my belief. By now it probably is true because I have conditioned myself to make it happen.

I believe I should not get out of bed before 06:00. I suspect that belief I got from my parents neither of whom welcomed being woken by noise in the morning. If I get up to go to the bathroom before 06:00 I will go back to bed and try to to sleep even if it’s 05:50 ̶ as happened this morning and which prompted this blog.

I also have a rule that says if I go back to bed and am unable to sleep after a couple of hours I must get up and do something to make me tired enough to sleep before 06:00. I have learned that doing something should really not include social media as the point is to unwind. However I’m not always good at keeping my own rules.

I think perhaps I try too hard to sleep. Eye masks make me itchy and earplugs may block out sound, but they aggravate tinnitus. And nothing I can do will stop my mind seizing the silence of the quiet, early morning hours to explore ideas. I suppose I should be grateful and I would be if I could be bothered to note them down when they come, but that would be to surrender to wakefulness.

My cat’s rule about sleep is simple; if I am awake ̶ even if it’s 03:00 and I’m just going to the bathroom ̶ I should be playing with him. Preferably I should be letting him go outside to play. I have tried repeatedly to explain to him that he’s not allowed out in the dark and must wait until the sky begins to lighten, but he doesn’t listen. The other evening I had been having the same conversation with him in the kitchen, when I went into the living-room I found my wife howling with laughter.

“What’s so funny?” I asked ̶ thinking it was something she had seen on the television.

“ You asked the cat, ‘What part of ‘its dark don’t you understand?’” She laughed, “What did the Wee Man reply?”.

Fortunately I persuaded her that it was not a conversation to share on Facebook.

When the Wee Man realises he’s not going out he’ll join me in the bedroom and pin my legs down so that even if I do eventually sleep sleep I’m not going to be comfortable while I get there. He can sleep anywhere any time, I am envious.

Years of night-shifts certainly haven’t helped my sleep patterns, but one reason for doing them was my difficulty in sleeping at night. I found it strange how when I had to work at night the sleep that would otherwise evade me became quite insistent ̶ until I was back home in bed at which point all sleepiness would vanish. I could and did fall asleep on the bus home and wake up in the next town wondering where I was, by the time I got home I was exhausted and wide awake.

Now I don’t work and so some of the stress causing consequences of sleeplessness have gone and I can nap when I need, but I do obsess still over dreams of a good nights sleep. Perhaps I should just lie back and relax.

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