Monday, May 7, 2012

I Guess There's Always Tylenol PM

This sleep thing isn't funny anymore.

I was a serious insomniac when I was a child. People don't usually buy this, but it's true. I remember having trouble sleeping when I was still in a bunk bed in Norfolk, Virginia, and I lived there from age 5 to age 10. I'd lie awake, looking at the ceiling, listening to Anne Murray (my parents' solution), worrying that burglars were going to break in and kill my father.

In middle school, I learned that I can't get to sleep or stay asleep if the light's wrong, or there are specific noises in the room. This is still true. And waking up in the morning? I had to change my alarm about every six months, and its location even more frequently. I'd either sleep through it, if the screeching hideous sound was too familiar, or I'd get up, turn it off, and go back to bed while still completely asleep.

In high school, I stayed up too late most of the time. (I've since read that teenagers' circadian rhythms are such that they're developmentally intended to stay up late and get up late.) I also learned about "missing the window" - where you're really tired and ready for bed all through the evening, but if you stay up too late, you get restless all over again and can't sleep, and the hours get more and more wee while you toss.

College was the golden time: I slept properly in college. During my junior year, there were periods where I retreated completely from my friends and normal college life, and I lived and died by Early to Bed, Early to Rise. I was sleeping 9 hours a night. My dark circles, which have been a part of my face since I was 10, started to fade. It was the best.

In the near-decade since then, I've felt like it's been a gradual decline, that my sleep patterns have gotten worse and worse and worse, until now, they're delicate and dysfunctional and impossible to predict. I've had long stretches where I wake up at 3:30 and can't sleep until 5:45, and then there were the weeks when I woke up every hour and a half exactly from 1:30 on, and then there was the super-early waking, which didn't last as long as the others.

Recently, no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at 7:30 or 8:00, never later. After The Avengers on Saturday night, I didn't get to sleep until 2, and woke up the next morning at 7:30, right on the button. I always tend to go to bed later when Matt's not around, and I can't seem to stick to a routine of going to bed at a solid and decent hour in the last month. I work and dawdle and screw around on the internet and reread blog posts and watch the last half hour of the movie and read another 10 pages of the book. And then when I do get to bed, I don't get to sleep quickly. And when I do get to sleep, it's a brittle sleep, easily broken.

Last night I don't think I slept solidly for more than four hours, between 2:30 and 6:30. I was tossing from midnight on, and when I started waking up (it's a gradual process, 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there) I felt heavy and restless and couldn't stay in bed.

During my 20s I solved this problem by taking melatonin every night, which kept me in a thick sleep rather than an insubstantial one and helped me sleep for eight straight hours every time. But after years of that, I started having bad loginess and stoned-ness during the mornings, lasting almost until lunchtime, and decided not to take it again. Valerian root helped me enormously during my wedding week (during which I think I slept about 20 hours, total, during all 6 nights), but it's not a silver bullet; sometimes I sleep just as badly on it.

It's so damn hard to concentrate with this going on. How well I sleep affects everything about how I live during the day. All I can do in the morning is feel like shit and curse myself for not going to bed earlier, for not being able to sleep later; all I can do in the evening is fret about what will happen when I inevitably fail to do the right thing and go to bed too late. Or what will happen if I do go to bed on time and my brain won't let me fall asleep.

Is it time to visit my doctor? I don't necessarily want to take nightly sleeping pills ad infinitem, but I'd really like just one fucking week where I get a good night's sleep every night, where I feel refreshed instead of miserable in the morning, where I don't sit up at night hating myself for not finding a way to fix the constant hung-over sensation. I mean, a lot of this is behavioral, but if I got a prescription I might be able to take the sleep thing more seriously and set no-nonsense deadlines for bedtime. Or I'll end up with a dependency that'll last another 10 years, by which time surely my sleep patterns will change yet again.

In other news, the draft of the sci-fi story's complete. I'm letting it rest in tinfoil and soak up its own juices for a week before I do the second revision and send it to those who have expressed interest. Matt liked it. I believe his exact words were "Robot be crazy."

1 comment:

Maleesha said...

me me I want to read it.

Ambien is the bomb.