Homework assignment: Sleep

Someone linked Robert Sapolsky’s marvelous lecture on depression at Stanford some time back, and I was completely floored by how well it matched….and explained! so many of my symptoms.  Yes, it’s a seven year old lecture.  I cried as I watched it, even though he’s funny, because finally someone articulated all those things I couldn’t explain to people about where I am right now.  (And have been, over and over in my life.)

When I was about 19, my boyfriend at the time expressed complete exasperation with my constant state of exhaustion.  He told me I needed to get checked out, because lots of people managed a lot more activity than I did without being so tired all the time. (Here’s my middle finger for that guy.) I wasn’t tired like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome tired, but constantly sleepy and often just unwilling to move.

It’s really been a long time since I’ve felt truly energetic.  I probably haven’t felt energized since junior high school.  Now, I’m not a slug.  I’ve run a half marathon and all three times I went to college, I worked more than one job, did some kind of collegiate activity and took a full load of classes.  But yawning is my default mode.

Actual sleep, however, never comes easily, and I rarely stay asleep for eight hours.  I usually wake up anywhere from four to eight times during the night.  Even if I “sleep in,” and stay in bed for ten hours, more than half that time, I feel like I’m in the shallow pool of unconsciousness, and the slightest movement will wash me up into wakefulness.  And I’m usually right.

So this week, my counselor asked me to work on sleep.  If I use a sleep aid, such as Tylenol PM, I’m to do it for a full ten days, to make sure I obtain the normal sleep cycles and habituate them. I haven’t done that yet, but I’m thinking about it.

(Nope, no Ambien, thanks.  I’d be one of those people sleep driving to work at 2 a.m. and ending up in the river.)

For now, I’m doing lavender oil and starting a bedtime ritual.  (Jammies, wash face, teeth brushed, lavender oil on feet and back of head, read, then out.)

No change yet and I’m still exhausted.  So I’ll probably begin the sleep aid thing tomorrow.

I hope it helps.  It would be nice to have something help for a change.

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