by Carrie Jurney DVM DACVIM (Neuro)
Ask people what their favorite things to do are, inevitably someone says sleep.
Which is interesting to me. I kind of consider sleep to be an inconvenient necessity. Like going to the bathroom- it is physically required, but kinda puts a wrench in my day. Literally a third of my hours daily are supposed to go to this sleeping activity, and if I don't comply I will feel like garbage. I kind of resent sleeping.
Maybe this attitude comes from my ADD- hard to do a million things at once when you are sleeping. I think it more likely comes from the fact that I am legit bad at sleeping. I have what they call in the biz a "biphasic sleep pattern". This means my body naturally wants two periods of sleep and two periods of being awake a day. What this really amounts to is that I start to shut down about 9:30pm. By 10:30pm I am out. My husband calls this "Pumpkin Time" ala Cinderella. 10:30pm is when his energizer bunny wife turns in to pumpkin--hmm that's a lot of mixed metaphors there, but you catch my drift.
Since college- even when I have people over- at 10:30, I go down like I've been blow darted. I have no choice in the matter. My good friends know that I am very likely to fall asleep on a couch. Tuck a blanket on me and keep partying guys. In fact I go to sleep better and faster when there is noise. During the week, this means the TV (much to my husband's horror). I was interested to find out this behavior is preserved in my matriarchal lineage- great grandma on down. Is that nature or nurture- who can say. When I finally asked why Grandma and Granddad have separate bedrooms, Grandma replied "Oh, so I can have the TV on dear"... and things just sort of clicked for me.
You see, what stressed me out is that I am WIDE AWAKE at 3am. You could set a clock by it. I used to fight this. I agonized over going back to sleep. I took meds. I did all sorts of ridiculous exercises. I counted a million sheep. I envisioned infinite loops of boxes in boxes. I read a thousand articles. I was researching sleep doctors when I decided to just stop. All of this stuff in fact was making it worse. The things that all the sleep experts said not to do, like watching TV as you go to bed, doing stuff in the middle of the night were what my body wanted to do. Anxiety makes me a fitful sleeper, and stressing out about my sleep didn't exactly help the situation.
But, somewhere in hearing my grandmother and great grandmother both lived to a healthy old age doing similar things and in just generally trying to be nicer to myself, now I just kind of accept my sleep cycle. I let myself get up at 3am. Against all possible wise sleep expert advice, I'll turn on an electronic device. I do tend to stay in bed. I don't let myself do anything too involved- reading a book is a bad plan, because I'll stay up to finish a book. Answering some quick emails or checking Facebook is fine, because quickly accomplished and interruptible. If I have inpatients, I'll call the hospital and check on them. And in about 45 minutes, I'll go back to sleep and get one more sleep cycle or so before the alarm goes off.
I totally know that if a sleep doctor read this they would rightfully be horrified, but *shoulder shrug* works for me. I feel well rested enough, so I'm going with it.
Anybody else have a funky sleep schedule? A trick that gets them to sleep?
The Admin Team of NOMV is a group of veterinarians dedicated to improving veterinary mental health.