Thursday Rambling: Sleepless Nights

So I asked around yesterday: What fascinates you most about sleep/dreams?

The big answer was lucid dreaming, which I’ve already got on the schedule for next week. After hearing this, I may spend some extra time on the subject. The next popular answer was “it’s a miracle if I get any sleep” which is absolutely relevant. Some people have lives so busy they can’t set a decent sleep schedule, and some people can, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get any sleep during the time they’ve put aside.

I’ll be 31 next month. I’ve never had kids, and I don’t plan to have any either. I’ve had friends as young as 14 who got to experience parenthood and the effects it has on sleep. I’ve always been seriously impressed by anyone who could have a child, a job and go to school at the same time. There are changes to my own life that I didn’t think I could handle, but when you have to do it, your body will eventually adjust to the new schedule. It just seems impossible when you’re standing on the outside trying to figure out how to make it work.

My sleep schedule right now is from 1 or 2 in the morning to 5:50am, then I get up to pick up my boyfriend from his night job. When I get home, I go back to bed for just a little while until 8 or 8:15 when I have to get ready for work. Many days, this is enough sleep. Other times I come home from work and take a nap until my boyfriend wakes up. Regardless of whether I nap or not, I can’t make myself go to sleep any earlier that 1 in the morning. I could take him to work and come straight home, lay down in bed at 10 and toss and turn for hours.

When this all started, when his truck was no longer drivable and I thought it would be safer for me to drive him to and from work, 5:50am was painful. I hate being up that early in the morning, especially when I value how productive my brain seems to be late at night. Lately, it’s just a thing that I do, and I’m happy that I get to consciously settle back down for a little more sleep. Be honest, you love it when you wake up in the middle of the night and realize you still have an hour or two to sleep before the alarm goes off. It beats the hell out of waking up five minutes before it goes off.

But on to the topic of sleepless nights. I love and hate them. I love having an active mind and the ability to get so many things accomplished in a time that seems “extra” outside my schedule. My body doesn’t seem to realize that I’m not going to be able to sleep when it is finally ready. My plans for the next day, and how many hours it will be before I’m able to go to bed again, just don’t even matter. And of course an hour before I’m supposed to wake up, I finally start to feel really peaceful and sleepy. Blame the blue light of dawn for that. Did you know that exposure to the blue light that precedes sunrise is important to chemical processes that promote sleep? Combine that with the lowest temperature of the day, and it will give you a pretty good idea why I, or you, can’t seem to get sleepy until an hour or two before we were supposed to wake up.

Some people can’t get to sleep without white noise. My boyfriend has to have a fan running while he sleeps, even in winter. I struggle to get to sleep without the sound of voices. Music won’t do, they have to be talking normally. I keep my laptop by the bed and put on old TV shows like Golden Girls. Something I’ve seen enough times that I won’t stay up watching to see what happens. The original Addams Family is also good for this. It’s a good thing we sleep at different times of day.

I suppose that’s plenty of rambling for today. I want to save insomnia and restless legs syndrome for a Tuesday entry. Next week I’ll be covering Chemicals of Sleep and Lucid Dreaming. There’s also something special planned for August 1st.