I’ve been on a different sleep cycle than most people much of my life. I remember even in elementary school staring at my classmates in shock that they’d go to bed by 8 or 9 pm. A random memory from 5th grade was asking someone, “You mean… you don’t watch M*A*S*H at 10:30 after the news before going to bed!?” What was WRONG with these people!?
Then high school came, and taking difficult courses meant boatloads on homework on top of all my extracurricular activities. It was in those years that I was introduced to After MidNite with Blair Garner. Blair and his team became my late-night friends. On nights they had particularly appealing in-studio guests, I’d finish my homework and lay in bed awake listening to the radio until I couldn’t hold my eyes open any more. It was in those days that my sleep time began to inch back later and later.
College days… well… college is a time of no-sleep for most academics. I pulled many all-nighters, opting to catch afternoon naps in the library or on a bench somewhere on campus in the sun. Sleep is something I got when I could get it.
It was as I neared the end of college days that I started staying up at all hours talking to the guy who would later become my husband. Just buddies, we found a kindred night-owl spirit in each other. When all else failed, we’d call one another to catch up on our days at 1 or 2 AM. As the years passed and friendship turned to more, it wasn’t unusual for me to stay up until 4 AM only to get up at 7 AM to make it to work by 8 (okay, fine, I usually strolled in closer to 8:30.) Then I’d catch a quick nap with my head on my desk behind the desktop computer mid-afternoon. Another nap early evening and we’d start all over again.
I share all of this to make my point that my sleep schedule has always been a bit off, but its been within the last four and a half years that its take a turn for the ridiculous time and time again.
It really started in the first year of our marriage when I was getting used to being a musician’s widow. A little freaked out (perhaps) about spending days on end home alone, I’d not sleep until the sun came up and I could hear our apartment complex come to life again. It was my little security blanket — knowledge there was people up and around, and it was somehow okay to slip into the vulnerable state of sleep.
Later, my schedule became thrown more with worries. Financial troubles loomed over my head. How would I pay the rent? What about the truck payment? Could we even eat this month? Those worries took a toll on me in many ways, but the biggest issue was probably the sleepless nights staring at the ceiling. Trying desperately to come up with a solution, knowing that the lack of sleep wasn’t helping me any but not knowing how else to cope.
Those worries eventually lead to us selling our second vehicle, and suddenly my sleep schedule became dictated heavily by my husband’s work schedule. Late night bus calls meant driving wherever the bus he was meeting was parked. Or if he came home at 6 AM, it meant just staying up to go get him, because going to sleep at 4 or 5 didn’t make sense just to get back up.
This, coupled with my picking up work at night myself (that gets me home around 4:30 or 5, and finally to bed around 6 or 7), my sleep schedule has officially gone nocturnal. (Its not the first time this has happened, mind you, but this is the longest its ever lasted.) Even on nights when I am home all evening, I’ll stay up until 7, go to bed, and then lay awake until 8 or 9! Usually its the brain that won’t turn off… thankfully, finances aren’t what keep me up much any more. It’s more writing ideas, photography ideas, or just thinking about the day. Thinking about my friends and my family. I’ll even say my nightly prayers more than once in that time period. I eventually turn to any number of games on my phone just to shut the brain off and allow sleep to take over.
I’ve grown frustrated with myself. I want to sleep closer to my more comfortable routine of bed by 5 (MAYBE 6), up around noon. I wouldn’t even be opposed to drifting off to sleep when its still dark out!
I figure I have two options. One is to just stay up one night into the next day. Pull an old all-nighter. I’ve done this before with success. Stay up over 24 hours, then go to bed actually around midnight, sleep well over 8 hours to catch up, then ta-da! I fall back into my old sleep rhythm the next night.
The other option is to short my sleep on the backside a few days. Get up “early” several days, forcing my body to want to go to sleep earlier to compensate. The problem with this one is that my husband usually ends up dealing with sleep-deprived-and-super-grumpy me for a few days. It does eventually work! But I also end up having to apologize a lot to my husband for being unduly crappy and whiney.
What will I end up doing? I don’t know. Looking at my schedule the next few months, it might not even be worth adjusting it too much until November anyway. However, I think I’d feel a bit better if I did… I don’t feel like pulling the all-nighter act again, so perhaps on a particularly long run for my husband coming up, I’ll do the short-my-sleep method. That way I regain control, and my husband isn’t here to hear my complaints. Win/win!
I got this topic idea from Me You Health’s Daily Challenge. Today’s Well-Being prompt was: Identify a problem that has been worrying you, then write it down and brainstorm 2 solutions.