Thursday, February 26, 2015
Tripping Over My Shoes Ep. 5: Sleeping Woes
No, this post isn't anything about puppies, though I wish it were. Instead I have to complain about sleeping.
I didn't always have sleeping issues. In high school I would stay up until midnight and get up at 4 or 5 in the mornings, no problem. When I'd mentioned that to my doctor at the time, he expressed initial concern. After talking with my mother about whether she believed it affected my waking mood or habits, he concluded that I might just be one of those people that didn't need a lot of sleep. It's rare, but it happens.
When college started, I cut down on my sleep even more. Not really out of necessity. I just wasn't as sleepy. I'd go to sleep around 2 AM and wake up again at 4 or 5, without any alarms.
I don't know when my sleeping habits changed, but some time two years ago I started having issues. I would still stay up late, but when I laid down to go to bed I couldn't fall asleep. I didn't even realize it was an issue until M started complaining about it. My tossing and turning would disturb his sleep. Then I wouldn't want to get up in the mornings. If I didn't have to get up, I would easily sleep in until noon, which is incredibly late for me. Not only did I sleep in late, I would still feel groggy when I woke up.
Fast forward to when M left for basic. I still had sleeping issues, or I at least started noticing them, and I started realizing how much M would do to help me. He would rub my back or talk to me until I fell asleep. He would hold me and let his heartbeat lull me to sleep.
It didn't help that at the time Diana was having some serious separation anxiety. She missed M almost as much as I did, and she would stay up late crying at night, interrupting my sleep. I remember the only thing that helped the both of us was to cuddle up in bed and sleep together.
Over time my only way to battle this was to wait until I was absolutely exhausted to go to sleep. It helped that I got a promotion at work and had to work later than ever. I would get home with food and read or put on some YouTube videos until I was falling over from exhaustion. Some nights I would just sleep on the couch. Every morning I would wake up before 7, if I was lucky. Most mornings I was up before 5.
Even though I was up so early, I would drift through my day until about noon. Even once I was fully conscious of my surroundings I would sometimes daze out and forget who I was with or what I was doing. I didn't think anything of it until after I'd already moved to Georgia with M and told him all of this offhandedly.
Then I couldn't get to sleep when M needed to sleep. I would lay in bed from 9 until well after midnight, tossing and turning. Even as I 'slept' I would toss and turn, acutely aware of my surroundings. When I woke up in the mornings, I would have to force my body into movement in order to prevent myself from falling asleep.
M suggested seeing a doctor. I still don't want to go. I've been fighting since then, saying that I will only go as a last resort.
I've been forcing myself to get up when M gets up. At 3:50 AM. My logic is that I will be so exhausted by the time 9 PM rolls around I will have nothing to do but fall asleep. It's partially working. Some nights are better than others. Another thing I've tried is taking over the counter sleep medication, on really bad nights. I'm terrified of becoming dependent on drugs to sleep, so I only take those as a last ditch effort. Some medications work better than others. Ironically, NyQuil works better than ZzzQuil for me. I found it out one night after taking some NyQuil for a cold I had been battling for a few weeks.
Working out doesn't really affect my sleep levels. I haven't noticed any difference between days I work out and days I don't workout. There's really no rhyme or reason to whether my sleep will be good or bad. It's not my use of electronics, either. While we were camping and I did not touch my phone at all, I still had these same issues.
Overall, though, I've noticed improvements. So long as I force myself awake in the mornings at a fairly consistent time, I'm pretty alert for most of the day. Falling asleep varies on a night by night basis, but I'm having more good nights than bad. If I feel the need to nap in the middle of the day I can without it affecting my night time sleep. Some days I need to nap, others I don't.
The only thing I can do is try and be consistent in my sleep schedule. It doesn't help my sleep itself so much as it helps my personal sanity.