Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two bells... am I well?

Oy Vey! I can't begin to count the number of times I've awakened from sleep, opened my eyes feeling oh so refreshed, only to look at the clock and see that's it's just 2:00 am.  I may have only been asleep for two or three hours, but I feel totally refreshed and ready to start the day.

So what do I do? Usually toss and turn and try to get back to sleep.  Often I can, for at least a couple more hours.

Insomnia, by definition, is trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. It  may come and go (episodic), last up to 3 weeks (short-term), or be long-lasting (chronic).

Yeah, that's about right.  Except the definition doesn't say that you may feel totally rested.

Am I just one of those people who needs less sleep than others?

I'd like to think that's the case.

I have, for years, been able to function on just a few hours of sleep each night for at least a couple weeks.  Then I sort of "hit the wall" and see about 24 hours of just napping and doing nothing to get back in sync.

Science has learned that the sleep habits we learned as children may affect our sleep behaviors as adults. When we repeat these behaviors over many years, they become habits.

Poor sleep or lifestyle habits that may cause insomnia or make it worse. Going to bed at different times each night and not getting enough exercise are really the only lifestyle habits I possess. I rarely nap during the day, my bedroom is dark and quiet with white noise, I don't lay in bed when I'm awake.

I also limit my caffeine intake and generally don't take medications, so they're not a factor either.

I did, for about eight years, take Ambien to help me sleep.  It's a prescription medication designed to help you stay asleep.  Unfortunately when you do wake up, you may not know it.

I believe it was created by Satan himself.  It took me about a year to wean myself from the dependency I had on it.


I know I'm not alone in my sleeplessness.  In my pre-internet days, my mother and I used to joke that we needed a way to let the other know we were awake at night so we could play cards.

Honestly, stress plays a major roll in my sleep patterns.  When I'm stressed out, I'm exhausted when I'm awake and not tired when I'm trying to sleep.

Thankfully I've been taught how to control the stress and get back to sleep.

For now, I'll just keep riding the insomniac train and try to enjoy the trip.


  1. Ah, yes...I think this is the bane of our age (both our chronological age and the times we live in).

    Just ran across this article on LinkedIn and was somewhat comforted:

    It even gives suggestions for what people used to do during their wakefulness.

  2. Wow, BE, sounds like my story, too. I've ALWAYS gotten by with maybe five hours of sleep per night. What I've learned recently... it's NEVER been quality sleep.

    While recovering from my cancer surgery in AA last January (2011), the nurses told me, "oh yes, Mr. Rummel, you CERTAINLY have sleep apnea." Finally agreeing to a sleep study, they stopped mine after about two hours... "no more reason trying to determine IF you've got it, but we'll go to phase two (usually a second study) and find out how MUCH you've got." And the tech guy said I was in his "top 10 worst cases ever.

    Long story short (yes, this is short :-) I've always been deprived of that level four deep rem sleep, which revitalizes us. I've ALWAYS awoken tired. Now, with a CPAP machine (actually a BIPAP...) I feel much more rested mornings. No, I don't like a full-face mask, but hey -- after bladder cancer, this is nothin.

    Long round-about way of saying you're not alone, my friend. And if your Mom were still here, you two COULD play cards / games online together. Ah, technology...