Sunday, February 17, 2008

If People Were Meant to Pop Out of Bed, We'd All Sleep in Toasters

It is beyond amazing how much more I'm accomplishing now that my body clock is resetting itself.

For the past three years or so, I've been averaging about five hours of sleep a night, which I'm certain has completely eroded my immune system, my memory, my cognitive name it. And I'm sure it doesn't help The Crazy at all. So about two weeks ago I decided I was going to actually get sleep. No matter what. I was exhausted anyway, so how hard could it be?

It turns out it was actually pretty hard to make myself sleep, and I wasn't prepared for that. Being the master worrier that I am, I usually use the hours of eight to midnight as a time for me to fret over possible life disasters that likely won't occur, ruminate over regrettable things from my past, think about how fat I must look sitting on my bed, berate myself for the mounds and mounds of lard and sugar I had ingested that evening, and so on. So when I started taking away that time from myself to just lie down and sleep, I realized I couldn't do it. It was a hard pattern to break.

When I finally managed to start going to bed at 10 and 11, I was pretty dismayed at how tired I still was even after seven or eight hours of sleep. I figured I'd just jump out of bed, sing to the assorted woodland critters gathering at my feet, whip up a perfect, nutritious breakfast, and flit out the door to work with ribbons in my hair and a spring in my step. (Okay, I would've been satisfied with time for a shower and a SlimFast) But it just wasn't happening. I was still pressing snooze four or five times every morning and on days when I didn't need my alarm, I was sleeping for 10-11 hours at a stretch. I totally went into, "Woe is me" mode, worrying that there would never, ever be enough sleep for me in the world to have energy to do anything except lie there.

I guess if I had been paying attention over the last two weeks, though, I would've realized that I WAS waking up more naturally, just in tiny increments, and that the amount of sleep I needed was starting to reduce each night. Today I woke up completely naturally at about 5:30 and I'm still not a bit tired (the triple espresso I made for myself probably isn't hurting).

There are just two things that bother me about being awake:

First, what do you DO with all this time? I've been up for almost five hours and I've still got like another twelve hours to go. If we weren't having a winter storm I'd go do stuff in the city, but alas. I don't have any hobbies, because for the last two years my hobby has been hating life and writing about hating life. I need to learn to needlepoint or something. I could make wardrobes for the cats.

Second, I'm not so good with being cheerful. It's not really my thing. I'm basically like the biggest, surliest, Gothiest teenager you could ever meet inside the body of a 27 year old woman who shops at Talbot's. Being happy makes me annoyed with myself, and if the goal of getting healthy is to promote the self-love process, how do you deal with the conundrum of simultaneously loving how you feel but also wanting to bitchslap yourself every time you actually embrace something pure and wholesome?

Also, does anyone know what the deal is with DailyPlate? I haven't been able to get on for the last three days.


Nory Roth said...

Erin! Glad to hear you are getting more shut-eye. I sometimes suffer from chronic insomnia myself. One of my latest "tricks" comes from yoga breathing. I like to count my slow, even breaths from 100 down to 1. (or the other way around, whichever you prefer) Usually, before I'm even to 50, I'm asleep. The other component to slow deliberate breathing and counting, is that it requires some concentration, and those distracting thoughts that often pop into my head at night are easier to dismiss.

As to what to do with your extra time and energy? Well, how about a few rounds of TurboJam? Vigorous exercise can do wonders for the mood, too. Not to mention the help with the weight loss effort. I listening to myself???

Lori said...


I haven't commented on the last few posts but trust me, I've been thinking about them intensely. Self-love and all of that -- damn, that's so hard to do and your posts have been very helpful to me. My problem is loving myself but keeping some boundaries so I don't veer into a Judy Garland, "I deserve everything" clone (minus the pills and the booze).

I have sleep problems; usually I wake up at 4 a.m. which is fine except I don't go to bed until 11 or midnight and I'm still exhausted. I'm working on this.

(BTW, can I be the oldest 48-year-old surly Goth wanna-be who also shops at Talbots?*)

*PS go look at their website -- they have an outlet and everything is really marked down. You could go look online at that at 6 a.m.