I got 8 hours of sleep last night… Not bad. I had a great day yesterday, and by the time I was back home again, I was too tired to do anything but go straight to bed. So, I did. No reading, no surfing the web, no television. Just bed. And 8 hours later I woke up without an alarm.
I generally don’t need an alarm to wake up, these days. I’m often awake by 5 or 6 a.m. The thing that gets me, is that I often don’t go to bed till 11 or sometimes later. Not last night. I was in bed by 9, and 5 arrived as it usually does – earlier than I wanted and expected, but still the reality of the situation.
Today I have another day off. This morning the plan is to just kick back and catch up on my reading, so some planning around job changes, and catch up on my emails. Nothing dramatic. I may also fiddle around with some of my projects — a little bit of coding, a little bit of research… keeping in mind that I’ve got two more days “off” ahead of me, so I can pace myself.
Hell, I might even get a nap in, too. As a matter of fact, a nap is just about the only thing I have planned for certain. These days off are a great opportunity to rest, and so I shall.
This resting business is a tricky one for me. Over the past months, I’ve been working on my ability to function reasonably well, even if I am tired. This is new for me – it used to really throw me for a loop when I was tired. My brain needs rest, and when I get tired, I can get very cranky, short-tempered, even explosive. My balance is off, my ability to pay attention for extended periods is compromised, and things generally don’t work nearly as well as when I am rested.
But despite knowing this and despite intending to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, my average is more like 6 hours, with a very occasional 8-hour stint… sometimes a little more. I rarely sleep past 8 hours, and those times when I get 9+ hours, it’s like Christmas. It happens maybe once a year, and it’s cause for celebration.
What to do? I can’t very well just fall apart, if I haven’t had 7-8 hours of sleep. I still have to function. So, over the past months, I have been working on intermittent recovery periods – doing my 90-second clearings, taking little breaks to breathe and stretch and consciously relax… and also to nap. There is no place in the building where I work, that I can lie down and rest, so I go out to my car, put on my headphones, and listen to some guided imagery that puts me into a relaxed state (or at least gets my mind off my everyday tasks, which are usually overdue and half-done). Taking little breaks in the course of the day — even if I don’t leave my desk — has really helped me get a handle on my “energy flow” and it’s helped keep the demons at bay, which is good.
It’s good for me, and it’s good for everyone around me, who doesn’t have to deal with the anxious crazy person I used to be all the time. Even if I don’t get as much sleep as I need, despite trying like crazy on a regular basis, at least now I have a way to work with the fatigue and disorientation. And even thought it’s a bit crazy-making to think that it’s not going to change anytime soon, I still have a set of “tools” and coping mechanisms I can use to reduced the ill effects of fatigue.
The main thing is to not dwell on the fact that “I didn’t get enough sleep.” That will make me crazy to begin with. It makes me anxious and fearful and puts me on edge — which is the start of the avalanche of drama that I can’t stand.
The next thing is to have back-up adaptations to my day, to help me function — when I know that I can relax and take a break and get some of my strength back over the course of the day, even if it is just by getting silent and breathing, that helps.
I also have been drinking a big glass of water with a little bit of baking soda in it, to keep my acidity level down. I do that first thing in the morning, many days, and sometimes I do it lter during the day. Acidity has been linked with all sorts of ills, like cancer and other illnesses, and it’s also hard on your system. Drinking water with a little bit of baking soda — say, half a teaspoon or so — settles my stomach and seems to calm down my whole system. I just feel better.
I also do a lot of self-support, talking myself through rough patches by reminding myself that I can handle this, that this is training for other things that are coming, and that today is going to seem like a breeze, in another couple of weeks. Rather than beating myself up for my “mistakes”, I treat my experiences like life lessons, and I focus on trying to learn something from them. When I stumble or blunder, I congratulate myself for just getting out there and giving things a shot. No more beating myself up over being an idiot. I may be that, but if you think about it, plenty of idiots are running around out there, doing big things with their lives, so why shouldn’t I? Maybe it’s not the most flattering self-image, but it’s something… y’know?
Anyway, the day is starting, and I’m feeling pretty good. I can definitely tell I need more sleep, and I may go back to bed in a little bit. Because I can. But for now, I’m going to do some reading, some writing, some thinking. And see where that takes me.