Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sleepy seminar...

So today I listened to that seminar I was going to listen to yesterday. You know the one I was too tired to pay attention to. The one about sleep disorders? Okay, so yeah, that was today.

And it was interesting. I actually picked up a couple of tidbits that I didn't know before about insomnia and treatments. Which is really great because if there is something I tend to know a lot about it's insomnia. I may have even written about my own insomnia once or twice or so.

So anyway when this seminar came across my email I went ahead and signed up just to see what new information there might be as well as causes and treatment options. And here are a few things I learned.

Did you know most of the testing for sleep aids is done on people who normally are classified as good sleepers? So when they are looking at improvements they are saying, we took a good sleeper and made them an excellent one! Go us!

Child, please. Tell me what you can do for an insomniac. If you can dent that case then we will talk.

And I also learned that I had already figured out a few things on my own that they have now done studies on.

The fact that sleep aids might work for me once but then not again. That's fairly typical with chronic insomnia. The belief I have that I function better than most people do with less sleep. Yep. That's also true. Which makes sense on both parts. If you are wired to have chronic insomnia, not situation caused or transient insomnia, you are designed to sleep less so you function better with less sleep. It takes really bad sleep for someone with chronic insomnia to show the signs of sleep deprivation that someone classified as a good sleeper would show with just one or two hours less sleep than normal. Which I thought was really interesting. I've always felt it to be true, but it was nice to see the studies prove it out.

But here is my big secret. I've been sleeping really well for a really long time. Not perfectly. I still get a bout or two of terrible sleep here and there but for the most part I've been consistent in getting quality sleep. I haven't really said a lot about it because (and this was mentioned in the seminar today as well which made me laugh) I tend to be a bit superstitious about my sleep. If x,y and z worked then I will do x,y and z. And I will keep it a secret that they are working so when they stop I won't have to say anything. And it's also part of why I was pushing off watching this seminar. Right now it's all working. I didn't want to do anything to mess it up.

So what have I done differently? Ready? I talked about it last year and worked on it all this past year. I accepted the fact that I am what I am and that's just fine. I went back to before I realized that other people sleep more than I do, back before I found out I had a "problem" and I thought about it. Did I feel like I was suffering? Only sometimes. When I was bored. When my sister would yell at me to go to sleep and I wasn't able to. But for the most part I just slept the amount I sleep and was awake the amount I am awake. Done and done.

I've also stopped thinking there is something wrong with me that I am a morning person. Like solidly a morning person. Don't want to stay up late. No urge. When Brent was out to sea and I was left to my own devices I actually went to sleep around 8 or 8:30 and woke up around 4. That gave me a couple of hours in the morning to finish homework or just read before heading to my first class at 7:30. Which was great. I always signed up for early classes. I was done with school by noon or one and never had to fight for parking. The one semester that I had to take a night class, serious night class it didn't get out until 10:30 I thought I would die. And consequently got my worst grade in that class as well. I'm just not an owl.

Now I go to bed around 10. It's a good compromise. I don't want to go to bed at 8 and miss out on family time. But I don't want to stay up until 1 or 2 with C either. Same way he doesn't particularly want to sleep past 10 or so but has no urge to actually wake up around 6 when Brent's alarm goes off. Let's not even talk about the fact that I've usually already been awake for awhile by that point...

I also read before bed on nights that I'm not sleepy right away. Screw the studies that say only sleep and sex in the bed. I need that time to disengage from the day. To shut down. To drift off. Reading helps quiet my head. So I read. Not for long usually. A half hour or so maybe. Then the book gets set down and I drift off. Usually asleep before 11 now. Which is excellent. I sleep soundly the first chunk then wake for awhile before doing my cat nap till morning routine. And it all works for me.

Except when it doesn't.

But here is the big lesson that is working for me right now and that I have a lot of confidence in it working for a long time. Even when sleep doesn't happen I don't freak out about it. I know that if I have a bad night, or two or even three it will settle back out again and I will get back to my little routine. That even the terrible stretches of insomnia are just the way I am wired. And that's fine. And that's made a big difference. Because stressing about not sleeping is the best possible way to ensure you won't sleep.

Which of course lends itself to a lot of life lessons.

Stop stressing about what you aren't.
Make sure you are grateful for what you are.
Notice what works.
Understand that you don't have to be like everyone else, you just have to be you.
And do what works for you not what people tell you that you have to do to be like them.


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