Sleep Patterns Disrupting Rest
There are various articles on the internet that suggest the best thing to do mid-afternoon, when you’re feeling slightly sleepy after lunch and run down after a busy morning working, is to take a power nap of 15 to 20 minutes.
I hate those articles so very much.
Some are better than others, and admit that it’s an “average” among sleep studies. Some of the sleep studies are tiny by research standards.
For me, 15 to 20 minutes is usually not enough time to actually fall asleep. If I’m extremely lucky, I will have just dozed off at 20 minutes. Usually it’s more like 30 minutes.
So, I try not to take naps. If I’m very tired, and it’s no where near bedtime, I might go ahead and lie down; but I do so knowing that I’m probably going to foul up my sleep schedule. I seem to sleep in 3 hour increments. If I’m, again, very lucky, I might manage a “short” 90 minutes, but that’s rare.
I’m not sure what exactly has changed, as I’ve aged.
I have some theories.
I know my sleep patterns took a large hit around the time I was separating and getting divorced from my first husband and my father dying of lung cancer. I don’t recall if it ever really recovered, because I moved away for a year to a different time zone, and never really slept well there either. (Except for when I was very sick with what was probably the flu.) On the other hand, since moving back to Oregon, I’m relatively certain there was a stretch where I slept… somewhat normally for me. And then again, several years later, when my mother had come to live nearby and became sick, I think I regained the habit of cat-napping to keep aware of potential need.
I think this last time, I never really got out of the habit. Even now, I tend to sleep in chunks. I drift off sometimes when my husband does, more often later, and then wake up in roughly 3 hours. On good nights, I might manage 4 hours… but almost always, I’m awakened at 4:30am at the latest by the cats.
That’s first breakfast time, you see. Well, it’s main breakfast, as only one cat is hobbit-like enough to require second breakfast. So after they’ve been fed, if it’s a work day, I go back to bed for another two and a half hours. Just before I leave for the office, the one cat gets his second breakfast. Sometimes he lets our girl have some.
It’s evenings when I often shoot myself in the foot. I’ll get home exhausted, and lie down knowing that it won’t be just a few minutes. I was surprised – the other night, I ended up perhaps only sleeping two and a half hours, and then, although I wasn’t horribly sleepy, I did manage to fall asleep within a couple hours of bedtime, which made the morning much less painful.
At this stage of things, I’m not entirely sure how to fix it. “Ignoring” the cats doesn’t work. Slight sounds I might once have slept through, when younger, now wake me and require acknowledging and identifying before I can roll over and attempt sleep again. And of course, dreams often get in the way, as I dream nightly – I just don’t always remember the dreams later.
I’m not a person who looks back with nostalgia to school years, in general. But that age… where I could sleep without regard for responsibility? Oh, I do miss that!