Well, I got lucky last night — No, not that kind of getting lucky…!
I lucked out because didn’t have to work late-late, after all. I “only” had to work till 8:30, not 10:00 p.m. And that’s good.
As a result of my reprieve, I got to go to bed before 10:00 p.m., which was a huge bonus. I managed to invest a little time with my spouse (very important) before I went to sleep. We’ve been missing that, since I work late so often. And it doesn’t help things.
Last night was good. I headed off to bed around 9:30, then I sat and breathed slow and steady for about 10 minutes before I went to sleep. I did my progressive relaxation exercises after I sat and breathed, which helped me even more. What a miracle, to be able to relax. This is a new experience for me, after a lifetime of unrecognized and unresolved issues. I’ve been having a lot of pain lately — mostly in my legs and hips — but I managed to get to sleep anyway.
I woke up earlier than I wanted to — about 5:30 or so. It was technical okay, because it meant I’d gotten about 7 hours of sleep, which is more than I’ve gotten recently. But still… I got up and sat and breathed for a little bit, then I realized I was still really tired and I was starting to relax. So, I went back to bed. And I slept for another hour, which was much needed.
This morning when I did get up, I had a conference call first thing. But unlike other mornings when I’ve had to “jump on a call” right away, I wasn’t thrown off or rattled by the conversation, and it actually came really easily to me.
Because I was rested.
After the call, I had to run an errand, which I did — and I cut it short because I had another meeting to attend before long. I used my head and didn’t push things, and I had another good conversation. Now I’m having my lunch and getting ready for the next couple of meetings I have before my official work day is through. I’ve got a ton of stuff to do, it’s true, but being rested helps me think clearly enough to figure out what’s important and what can wait.
It also helps me plan for future days when I’ll be able to do the things I can’t handle today.
Sleep makes this all possible. Good sleep. Good rest. It gets my mojo back, which is just plain awesome.
It’s pretty remarkable, what a difference sleep makes, when your brain is a bit jumbled from tbi. Traumatic brain injury — including the “mild” type, which can really do a number on you, too — can make your brain much more susceptible to fatigue… which can lead to cognitive impairment and irritability… which can lead to a constant sense of restlessness… which can lead to increased agitation… and so on. It can turn into a massive vicious cycle that is wildly self-fulfilling. And if you don’t know about how important sleep is, and you don’t act like it is, and you don’t get enough good quality rest, then you can end up shooting yourself in the foot, time and time again.
Because the brain needs rest — especially a brain that’s been “alternatively rewired” by injury (or multiple injuries, like in my case). It needs rest to recuperate, to recharge, to incorporate all the lessons and learning from your waking hours. It needs to just chill. For real.
But do I listen? Usually, not. It feels so awesome to be up and about, running myself ragged, driving on “pure adrenaline”… it feels great in the moment\… I feel brilliant and wise and clever and happy. But eventually I crash, and I pay dearly for my excesses. And the idea of always running on adrenaline gets old pretty quick.
Which is something the red bull monster and drink people will never tell you. They only talk about the upswing, not the crash. But I know all about the crash.
And I know all about what makes it better — a good night’s sleep and the ability to go BACK to sleep, when I realize I’ve woken up too soon. That second part is the elusive one for me, but I’m learning. I’m learning…
It just takes practice.