sleep, wonderful sleep…

24 09 2011

licensed under creative commons from peasap http://www.flickr.com/photos/peasap/2561252071/

In my twenties, I worked shift work for the best part of a decade. I started most nights at 10pm and worked overnight until 8am. My body clock entirely adjusted to being nocturnal – except for those times when I also did part time work in the daytime, or I studied full-time at the same time. I was young, energetic, fit and determined. Sleep deprivation was something to be overcome. And I got paid very well for my inconvenience.

This really wasn’t so tough because prior to starting my night-shift job I had been known to stay out all night clubbing and still manage to go to work the next morning. Ah, the energy! The committment! The insanity!

In my early thirties I had children. Not for me the logical “have them one at a time” plan. I had mine all at once. I do not remember their babyhood, I was so tired. I do remember falling asleep standing up in our hallway. I woke up when I toppled sideways into the wall. Yes, I literally hit the wall.

The children are older now, and go to bed at a reasonable time (complaining all the way “but I’m not tired!” before immediately lapsing into slumber as soon as the lights are out).

But sleep for me has become the elusive dream. Not for nothing is sleep deprivation considered a form of torture. While I could happily nod off in the early evening, when the lights go out, I am awake. I must sleep at some time during the night, but I am awake by 4.30. Awake but not refreshed. Awake, but desperate to be asleep for another two hours before I need to get up.

Sleep, oh sleep, whereforeart thou?

The various psych and health facebook pages I subscribe to keep sending me information on the latest studies linking lack of sleep with weight gain, high blood pressure, memory loss, ageing, etc. Add to that the physical pain of a body that has not relaxed and remained horizntal for long enough. So I went and did a sleep study to see why I wasn’t sleeping.

It was possibly the worst night’s sleep I have ever had. First they cover your scalp in various electrodes sticky-taped or glued to your head (the glue does seem to peel out of hair quite easily in the morning.) Then then stick an airflow monitor around your head so the tubes sit just outside your nostrils. Irritating.

Then there are other monitors stuck onto your chest and velcroed on with a strap. As you turn over during the night, the velcro strap will rip open (cue velcro ripping noise in your imagination) and you will have to semi-wake up in order to reafix the strap.

Add to this that you are trying to sleep in a strange environment, and the usual noises of a hospital as people, trolleys and (it would seem) herds of elephants clatter up and down the hall all night, and I am surprised they got any readings from my sleep at all.

However, they did, and they said everything was normal. I guess they have a different standard for “normal” based on people tossing and turning in hospital beds with wires and straps all over them.

So I am back to my own devices. And of course complaining to anyone who will listen.

Thanks for listening!

If you liked this post you might also like Reasons I Should be Exercising (which might also help with sleep) and This germ-ridden life.

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One response

14 10 2011
Liza Cecchi

Interesting. Will defintely be back

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