So apparently “sleep” is something I don’t do well anymore. The last couple of weeks have been a stressful struggle to figure out how to get more sleep. I’ve tried chamomile tea, and I’ve tried warm milk with honey. I’ve tried Gravol and Melatonin and Zopiclone (not all at the same time, but perhaps that would be worth an experiment?). No caffeine after 10 in the morning. Exercise early in the evening (long dog walks) but not too close to bedtime. No electronics in the bedroom. No heavy reading or political discussions before bed. Slowly trying to get my daily life under control so I have less things to be anxious about (that’s an ongoing life project and probably won’t get solved, but hey). Eat healthily but not too close to bedtime. Go to bed at roughly the same time every day. Some solutions I’m not willing to try: alcohol or pot, for example. For one thing, if I drink, I’m up bright and early with the songbirds the next day regardless of how shitty I feel or how late I went to bed. For another, the prevalence of substance abuse in my family and in my past partners makes me shudder at the thought that I could also become that person who needs to self-medicate to get through the days and nights. But as I say this, I remember that sometimes when I have a bad head and chest cold, a hot toddy is just the thing, and so perhaps I will take my first step on that slippery slope!
The thing is, I need an absolute minimum of seven hours of sleep to function well. Seven and a half to eight hours is best. And my average over the past few weeks is about four to five hours per night. One night was only two hours of sleep. It made me cry, that night. But most mornings, I just haul my butt out of bed and into the shower and keep on trying to go through the paces of my waking life.
So this is a long way to say, wow, am I ever behind in every area of my life! Work is suffering, friendships are suffering, housework is suffering (although my baseline is pretty low anyway), the dogs are antsy and rambunctious, and the autumn yard work has yet to be planned, let alone implemented. I’m reading a lot, but behind on my book reviews. I’m taking lots of pictures of the dogs and cats, but not posting much here or on Facebook or Instagram. It can take a week for me to reply to a text.
The way I’m trying to deal with it now is not so much trying to find ways to sleep more (and better), but to find ways to manage my anxiety about the sleeplessness and also to manage my feelings of helplessness and hopelessness about it. The anxiety makes everything so much worse. I’ve always had trouble on-and-off with middle insomnia and early morning waking, but it has never been (a) unresponsive to sleeping pills or (b) for so many uninterrupted nights in a row. I am so worried that it will continue and I will no longer be able to manage my daily life. Yesterday I came across a Facebook post by the Mood Disorders Society of Canada that sums it up:
Every night after work, I force myself to do at least one “life task” (a load of laundry, a load of dishes, some contract work, whatever) and to walk the dogs (as opposed to just standing out in the back yard with them). I know that if I let things pile up too much, I’ll get to the point where they feel utterly overwhelming and the next thing you know I’ll be in bed and unable to get out and heading into the Bad Place where I just stop functioning. So no matter how sleep-deprived I am, doing something every day at least keeps that door firmly (?) shut.
Tuesday night’s Important Life Task was taking the Fluffy Dog to the vet for his annual Wellness Check (the language around this makes me laugh). The Fluffster scammed treats from all the staff—repeatedly. Then somehow in the exam room, he charmed the vet and the tech even though he was counter surfing and dancing around the little space. The verdict is that he is a healthy, lovely, well-muscled dog, but that he is now solidly middle-aged, with the start of a grey snout, and some incipient stiffness in his left hip. I had indeed noticed that for the last few months it has been far easier to brush his left side than his right side, since he prefers to lie on the right side—and that was not the case before. (I am in the habit of brushing whatever side is facing upward, and it used to be more “even.”)
The vet recommended a baseline x-ray so we can see what’s going on, and have something to compare later potential difficulties to. The shot they need will require the Fluffy Dog to be sedated, as it’s a bit awkward, so we’re also looking at bloodwork prior to that. I went ahead with the bloodwork, since a baseline there is very likely to be useful and important information later on. But I’m still mulling the x-ray, and have contacted the Petsecure insurance people to see if this is something they would cover. Will defer the decision for now. Meanwhile, the Fluffmeister got his rabies shot without the tiniest flinch, and stood calmly to have his blood drawn. He’s a wild, unmannerly goofball, but when it really counts, he’s such a good boy.
Last night, I did laundry (clean bras and underwear! Very Important!) and took the dogs for a stroll through the park at the end of my street, and then I thought “well done, Self, you did your grownup life tasks and now you can just stare into space until bedtime.” But somehow giving myself that permission (which, on Tuesday, resulted in an hour of computer games and an hour of reading) allowed me to keep chipping away at my task list for a while. So I spent 45 minutes working on a presentation I have to give this weekend, and did a little bit of tidying up. It felt good to get some of this out of the way.
It didn’t help my sleep, though. I took the stronger Zopiclone I have (7.5 mg) and still only got six hours of sleep. But SIX HOURS!!!! That’s my record for the last two weeks, so I’ll take that and be grateful!
Forgive my kind of rambly post. I’m a little tired. 🙂