10 April 2010

sleeping through the night.

as most of my few readers know, i don't usually get too personal on the blog. this may be a slight departure from that standard.

lately, i have been dealing with a form of insomnia. this has never been an issue for me in the past. i have had some wacked-out sleeping patterns in my life -- what with architecture school, where 4-6 hours of sleep a night was the norm, and all-nighters were a regular occurrence. then there was the grave-yard shift at the university library, which i'm not sure i ever really adjusted to. at one point in my life, when i was working in a cabinet shop, in the middle of a record-hot summer (no air conditioning in a wood shop), i would come home, go directly to sleep, and then get up around 3am, have a meal, and enjoy the much cooler, wee hours of the morning for my time off from work. when cosmo was an infant, i was awakened many times throughout the night to feed him. but i have never ever had trouble falling asleep, nor have i ever had a problem falling back to sleep, if awakened. i never felt sleep deprived when cosmo was a baby. i am not someone who takes naps in the middle of the day, but when i am tired, i can fall asleep almost anywhere.

however, recently, this has changed. if i am awakened in the night, usually by cosmo getting up to use the bathroom, i have trouble falling back to sleep. it can take two hours, or more, and sometimes i just give up and get out of bed. the worst part of it is what happens to my mind in those dark hours of the night. i start to worry. about everything. or, just one thing in particular--obsessively. one night it might be student loans, another night it will be some minor task i forgot to complete, or someone i failed to correspond with, who is awaiting a reply. or, i might worry about the tone in my voice when i scolded cosmo for something the day before. whatever it is, it gets blown entirely out of proportion. the other night, i worked myself up into a panic over details of a project i have promised the middleway house, which is far from completion, and barely even started. i became so distressed that i bolted out of bed, then felt incapable of doing anything about it, and fell back onto the pillow, sobbing. i could not stop my mind from racing and reeling. it was like i was in an altered mental state. carl calls it nocturnal anxiety. i finally calmed myself, and began to count backwards from 100. i had to do it twice through, and i also sang cosmo's lullaby songs to myself, but finally, i did drift off into sleep again.

in the clear light of day, none of the things i worried about seemed so bad. i no longer have the pressing sense of urgency, nor the feelings of inadequacy. the night before just seems like a bad trip, or something.

so, i have been asking myself: what is the cause of this new, disturbing trend? could it be aging? i have heard that our sleep patterns can change as we get older. could be diet, or caffeine consumption. i have also speculated that there are things i am stressed about, which i am not fulling dealing with in my waking life. could be all of those, plus other factors.

i have looked at some self-help sleep websites, and considered their lists of suggestions for better sleep. last night, i began to implement some of the ideas, and had plans for what i would do if i couldn't get back to sleep. i am happy to report, that i slept through the night. i never cared about that term when cosmo was a baby. it seemed like THE-most-important-thing to so many people. everyone would ask, "is he sleeping through the night?" it didn't matter to me, because we were all well rested.

now, the phrase has a whole new meaning. for me.


Heather said...

Well poo! I come from a long line of women with insomnia...it doesn't visit me on a regular basis though (yet?), but just from the few periods when I've had it my heart goes out to you. Things really do ratchet up emotionally at 3 am in a way that they just don't tend to at 3 pm. No advice, just a warm internet-y hug and hope from NC that you keep Sleeping Through the Night.



Anonymous said...

I have trouble falling asleep, but not usually with night wakings. I hate to mention the word perimenopause, but that could be part (or whole) of the problem. Have you talked to any doctor (conventional or holistic) about this?