I think that it’s very appropriate that this month’s Living Out Loud subject is sleep. I am currently suffering from sleep deprivation and am running on empty so I apologize in advance if this makes no sense. I look like I’m for another trip because my bags (under my eyes) are fully packed!
I have lived most of my life believing that I am a person who NEEDS my eight hours of sleep a night. I have also lived most of my night NOT getting it.
When I was a teenager and living at home my mom got up at like 4:30 every morning which meant she was in bed before 9:00 and insisted that we not make noise after she went to bed which meant really no TV after 9:00 unless you turned it down so low you couldn’t hear it and let’s face it, what’s the point if you don’t know what they are saying. There was no such thing as close captioned back then and I’ve never been good at lip reading.
We lived in a trailer during my teenage years and my parent’s bedroom and the living room where the TV was were right next to each other and I’m sure most of you know that trailer walls are paper thin and don’t even muffle the sound much less are they soundproof. I didn’t like getting yelled at so I just usually went to my room after the dinner dishes were done and tried to listen to my teenage music as much as I could without waking anyone. We didn’t have earphones or anything so most of it was at the lowest audible setting. At least my bedroom was at the opposite end of the trailer otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to listen to it at all. Of course back then I didn’t understand how it was to have to get up to go to a job so I really didn’t understand why we had to go to bed early and not make noise.
But I always stayed up as late as possible reading and writing in my diary and then it was up before 6 in the mornings because we had to catch the bus at 7 so I lived off basically 6 hours a night although I craved 8 hours. I always thought “if I could just get 8 hours sleep everything would be just perfect!”
Then I moved out and I was so busy partying and experiencing a life of no boundaries after having so many growing up that I stayed up past midnight (at the earliest) every night and then had to get up early for work so again it was about 6 hours a night. I did sleep in on weekends but usually didn’t get to bed before 1 or 2 so I guess it’s all relative.
Then I got married and I happened to marry a man who thought that 4 hours of sleep a night was a lot. He has always had a fast metabolism and never needed a lot of sleep. He also thought that if HE was awake that I was supposed to be awake too! By the time I finally got him trained to let me sleep more than 4 hours a night we started having kids and then all thoughts of any kind of sleep kind of went out the window. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade those sleep deprived days for anything in the world. It was just that I was like a walking zombie for about a dozen or more years until I got …. Scratch that … MORE than a dozen years since all our kids tend to be night owls and stayed up until all hours of the night. And they were not as thoughtful about the noise they made as I was. Or maybe they just weren’t as scared of me as I was of my mom!
Then before the last one graduated high school and moved out the first one got married and those last few months before her wedding I got even less sleep than ever. Between working and trying to raise a family my hope of ever having what I had always considered a “full” night’s sleep went up in smoke. You’d think that now, since all the kids are out of the house and me not working, that I would have my fill of sleeping all I want but so far it still hasn’t materialized.
As much as I want to stay in bed after hubby leaves for work it usually doesn’t happen and if I do stay in bed I usually wake up by 7 or 8. I guess it’s a force of habit of all those years of getting up early for the kids going to school and me working. And I still usually get awakened by 5 a.m. to let the furry kids out!
Of course there were those several years that were squashed in there where I was so sleep deprived I would fall asleep driving. I had/have sleep apnea and in the years before I was diagnosed I knew I probably had it but was too afraid and stubborn to actually go get a sleep study done. When it got to the point that I could not ride in a car for 3 miles without falling asleep and every time I stopped at a stop light I’d nod off I decided it was time to go and get it checked out. Even at work if I sat still for more than 5 minutes I’d fall asleep. It was not fun and I’m sure I wasn’t very productive and was probably even more dangerous on the roads than a drunk driver. The day I woke up driving on the wrong side of the road I knew something had to give! Thank God there wasn’t any oncoming traffic. It was definitely (pardon the pun) a wake-up call!
I had my sleep study done and found out I was one of the most severe cases he had ever seen. They usually let you do the study all night without giving you the oxygen mask but I scared them so badly they “woke” me up before midnight to put the mask on me. I was stopping breathing over 100 times every hour. That was why I was so tired all the time! I never got to the REM stage of sleep because I was constantly waking myself up and I was getting up at least once every hour. Without ever getting to the REM stage of sleep I was never getting fully rested. Once I started using the mask at home I was like a whole new person. I felt better and was able to stay awake during the day without the medication the doctor had resorted to prescribing for me. I felt like I was reborn!
Lately, since I haven’t been working (or as hubby says… I’m retired, I say I’m underemployed!) you’d think I’d have all the time in the world to sleep but I’ve had so much going on I still don’t get to sleep. The last few months have been like a blur. I have been back and forth to Virginia ever since my brother had gotten sick and was burning up the roads and the midnight oil going back and forth and trying to help out.
After my brother passed I stayed up there a couple of weeks and still didn’t get my eight hours I was looking for. I’ve been home less than a week and have gotten even less sleep than usual. I know I mentioned that hubby had taken me out for Mother’s Day/Cinco de Mayo the other day and after my margarita I had to come home and take a nap. Well, I took like an hour nap and then by the time it came for my usual bedtime I wasn’t sleepy so I ended up staying up and watching some of the programs I had recorded while I was gone. I think I went to bed around 3 a.m. and I thought I’d sleep in the next morning but first the furry kids woke me up at 5 and then when I got back to bed hubby was in one of his sleep talking moods and I couldn’t get back to sleep so I went out to sleep on the sofa and literally almost as soon as I went to sleep he noticed I wasn’t in the bed and came out and turned on the living room light and woke me up. After I talked to him a while I went back to sleep and woke up several more times before he went to work and then finally woke up at 9 and couldn’t go back to sleep because our insurance agent was coming by so I needed to get up and take my shower and get dressed.
Then last night after I got home from my Pampered Chef party I wrote my blog and then hubby and I stayed up rolling silverware until about 1:30 or 2:00 this morning and then the furry kids woke me up at 5 again to go out. Then I tried to go back to sleep but finally got up before 8:30 because I couldn’t sleep anymore. It’s now 7:30 p.m. and I still haven’t gone back to sleep and probably won’t before midnight. So, I’m still running on empty and still not getting my 8 hours that I have always been so desperately seeking. I guess I really don’t need it after all. Maybe the elusive 8 hours is just an illusion. How about you? Do you get the sleep you think you need?