I have been struggling with sleep… My whole life.
As a kid I couldn’t sleep. I would read the entire huge dictionary to get through the night and try to get to sleep. I moved on to phone books for a time. But when I did get to sleep I was hard to wake up, always.
At one point, after my best friend moved away, I had to lie in bed and make up dreams. This may have been the starting path of my writing career. Often, then, I’d dream of a better life for my family. Which usually involved a farm and a lot of animals.
As a teenager I began sleeping in late in the mornings. Pretty typical. But I understood then that something was a little wrong. It felt wrong. I struggled too much.
That time in life wasn’t easy. And the sleep was never good real sleep.
In my late teens and twenties I barely slept and did perfectly fine. The only nap was on Saturday afternoons after a super early morning hike in the California mountains.
Thirty came and suddenly things changed. I needed sleep for the first time ever. Deep good hard sleep that pulled me into no dream darknesses and began over time to become harder and harder to pull out from.
Now I need too much sleep and I struggle. I can’t seem to fit in going to bed early and it doesn’t help waking up late. This has become a bad habit. I don’t like it. It ruins half my day. I struggled to see the Scottish Rite museum in San Antonio because they had a closing time of 2:30pm and I could never make it with time to explore it.
I knew then sleep was becoming a problem, encroaching on my day. For awhile early mornings became easier last summer because I’d beat the heat and hit the beach. But by end of summer that was failing.
When I say it’s a struggle to wake, I am not joking. You could hold guns to my head, Swat could be raiding, and I’d turn over and bury myself into my pillows.
I did go through an odd time that we call Tahiti where sleep became my meditation and my escape. I know that ruined me greatly for being back in the world.
Awhile ago I began a Better Me… Thing. This included seeking and living a healthy life mind body and soul and just a better version of myself instead of accepting what was. In this I began reading many things. One was the Sleep Revolution. But the problem wasnt that I wasn’t getting enough sleep now, but too much.However, was it quality? And healthy? Well, it was deep. And only dream filled (and always odd and left me emotional) in the mornings, my last hours of deep sleep. But I still woke tired. And I was waking late and then going to bed late because of waking late. The waking late did come first. Still now, much later, I struggle.
I have tried so many things to force myself awake early so that I’d begin being able to go to bed early. And I’ll try and go to bed early but I’ll struggle to sleep or still wake up late. Alarms all over the house mean nothing. Setting alarms with my coffee, near a shower with my clothes for the day picked out mean nothing. I zombie and turn them off and climb back into bed.I’ve tried exercising l, dieting changes, sleep pattern changes and tricks, no TV or phone, different alarm times, creating places I had to be with an obligation in the morning, pre-bed rituals, morning rituals. But I struggle and right now I am failing greatly. For awhile it seems I simply wasn’t one who could settle at 8 hours of sleep. So I allowed 9. But then my body began asking… No…taking… more. And more.
And no, I wasn’t going to waste my life being one of those “its OK to sleep 14 hours” people. I felt quality over quantity was a better was to go. I’ve tried many things but the hardest is just that discipline in the mornings. Working from home and being unaccountable doesn’t help this.
I’ve put myself into positions to have to be somewhere early and to be accountable. Months of such things paired with presleep rituals and better waking rituals, healthy eating, good exercise, and so forth… And yes, ruled out doctors and health issues, haven’t helped or changed or created a better habit. And then when I backslide again I do so very hard. If I was productive and that “artist who does best at night” I’d accept a late night and late morning schedule. That is not the case with me. Sometimes, but mostly not.
I’ve never been a morning person. Or a day or afternoon or midmorning person. Or a night person. I was born at 11:06AM on a weds day. The middle of the week. Middle of the day. I’ve never grasped or found what kind of person I am. What MY best time is. I envy those who have that.
My mother never slept at night and later by day only because of the come down of drugs. But truly, from a young child, she suffered insomnia.
Many of my sisters do the same (without the drugs). Most thrive on a four hour sleep habit. I’ve tried that, too, and 6 hours and 8 hours and allowed 9 and I refuse to allow more, though fourteen has easily happened against my will and the zombieness that turns off even hidden around the house alarms.
Now, in stressful times, I shut down. I have explored the depression and mental health section of Better Me as well and greatly. If there is chaos I just turn fetal and sleep. I grow bone tired. I hurt and ache. And I just can’t. Years of a traumatic childhood where I didn’t do this likely catching up. I first noticed it when in a small spat with my fiance I just felt my body and mind unable and I tried to sleep, he wanted answers. I just couldn’t give them. I felt myself collapsing on the bed, begging for him to shit up and let me sleep. I then walked home. He followed and in the parking garage I remember turning to him in a zombie haze and begging him to understand that it wasn’t in my power. That if he held a gun to my head I would likely just collapse and sleep soundly right there in the middle of the parking garage. After that my sleep reaction to chaos began. To stress. To fights. To hurt. To nervousness. To emotional situations.I did seek professional help. It was contributed to a way the body reacts to protect and quite normal. I’d been through a lot of trauma and dealt with it, well, lived it and constantly in survival mode. My body was now reacting differently. My brain was. But even when life is good and calm and such is actually much of the life we have created. Rarely is there anything to stress me out now… Except my sleep habits.
And I’ve checked my depression.
Typically my body seeks 9 hours of sleep. But I can’t seem to get myself to bed prior to 2. Then I can’t wake myself up earlier than those 9 hours. And the problem continues. A cycle.
A ways back I tried staying up all night. It that backfired to needing even more sleep. And I try going to bed earlier but it just doesn’t happen no matter how hard I try. And then I literally can not make myself wake up and get going in the day after that with less than those 9 hours of sleep.
But I’m still working on it. I do love the smell and coolness and freshness of the dawn and I wish to wake daily to see it. Especially as I will soon entering life living on a boat and on the water. I truly want to experience every dawn morning in that time. Every sunrise. I miss out on too many sunrises.
I want a full day. I love the day. I love my mornings to hike and do things out doors. Especially in the heat of summer trying to beat the high risen afternoon sun is important. I do my best writing and work in the afternoon. Mid-day-ish. I then love enjoying my evenings back outdoors, again, especially in summer. Watching sunsets. Walking after an afternoon storm that passed over. Bike riding then is my favorite. And there is dinner and things to do that must be done and jumble about that time as well. And yes, I’ve tried cutting the times things take as well to help ease all of this.
I love taking a break after my day or work and enjoying porch sitting and a book. Or an afternoon coffee. (decaf) or tea. And yes, in all my sleep I have also stopped TV, coffee, tea, caffeine, sugars and other tricks on those lines. In the evening there is supper, later in summer because I enjoy the cooling of the day again.. Because the day ends later. Walking my dog, patio and a book. Sunsets not to be missed. Bike rides. And then there is cooking eating cleaning and last puppy walk for a pee and showers and maybe tea and a book in bed and pre-bed rituals. But I swear it’s nearer midnight before I even manage to get into bed. And read because I am far from tired. No TV or phone or laptop allowed in the room is the current rule and one I’ve tried a lot before as is often recommended for good sleep habits. So the cycle begins of sleep by 2 and waking late again.
Shaving off on the prebed time is hard to do because I’m not tired and struggling to sleep makes me sleep even longer. Shaving off time in the morning and thinking I’ll have had a long day and be extra tired from waking early and will go to bed early A. Doesn’t work that way if I do manage to get up early, in fact I’m usually wired later in the night and tend then to stay up until dawn and well past 2. And a nap in this kind of day doesn’t help, either. I’ve tried. And B. It’s the getting up early. Again, no amount of alarms and obligations seem to help. Heck, even a puppy didn’t help because he’s so good at house training and also loves his sleeping in. Though he’s much better at an earlier bedtime than I am.
Healthy exercise. Set alarms. Healthy diet. No stresses. Obligations. Prebed rituals. Morning rituals. Reading books on sleep. Trying 4 hour sleeping. Trying 9 but with adjusting the bedtime and wake time. I just can’t find the non struggle and the right fit.
But I’m still trying. Perhaps sleep is a journey in itself. And a part of learning a Better Me.
#sleep #sleeping #rituals #struggle
#schedules #betterme #journey #sleepjourney #thesleepjourney #sleeping #sleeppatterns #health #mindbodysoul