Friday, August 9, 2013

sleep business

Sleep may be overrated.  Or maybe it's remembering things that is overrated.

I don't know for sure.  I do know that my docs told me for years that I needed to make sure I was getting a good night's sleep if I wanted to stay away from the darkness that was occupying my days.  The recommendation was simple--take an ambien every night.  That will help you get a good night's sleep.

And I have.  Off and on.  Mostly on lately.  But the thing about ambien, at least for me, is that after I've taken it for a while, I start losing my memory.  And my ability to remember stuff.  All kinds of stuff.  And recently, the ambien-induced sleep hasn't been all that good either.

So I decided to quit the ambien.  Mind you, I thought about it for a while.  And then a week ago, I took 1/2 a pill one night and none since.  It was an interesting journey to now.

The first night with no ambien, I was awake until 5:30 a.m.  My mind could not stop talking.  All night.  It was total chaos.  It was like my mind had been silenced during the night for so long that it had a lot of catching up to do.  I tossed and turned and my mind just kept talking.  I was exhausted by 5:30, but luckily it was an off-Friday, so I stayed in bed for a few hours and then took a 10-minute nap mid-afternoon and got through that day.

Friday night wasn't much different.  Constant, non-stop chatter in my mind.  I remembered reading Jill Bolte Taylor's book about a stroke she suffered--she's a brain doctor, so when it started, she realized what was happening and began observing her brain.  She later wrote that it was so obvious whenever the left side of her brain stopped functioning because the brain chatter would stop and the right side of her brain would take over, the side that is creative and emotional.  That is what I noticed on Friday night, the brain chatter wouldn't stop.  There was music in the background all night, songs I only know some of the lyrics to, which only added to the chaos.  Around 5:00, I finally slept for another couple of hours and then got up for the day.

Saturday night was slightly different.  This time there was some organization to the chatter.  It was almost like a dream, with lots of talking in my head.  I had to write a paper for work, I had a due date and time, but I couldn't remember how to link the footnotes to the quotes in the paper.  This was not a pleasant dream, but it wasn't really a nightmare, just more of the chatter.

Sunday night, the chatter started again.  But I knew I needed to rest because I had several things to attend to on Monday at work.  I remembered when I was younger and couldn't sleep that I would lay down on a blanket on the floor and that feeling of solid floor below me seemed to help me relax and sleep.  So I got out of the bed and lay down beside it with an old flannel quilt.  I remember looking up to see each dog, at different times in the night, peering over the edge of the bed at me, confused, concerned, and I wondered if each of them wouldn't be jumping down on me at some point.  But they didn't.  And I slept for four hours before rising and heading into work.

On Monday night, I went to bed, lay my head on the pillow, and drifted off to sleep.  There was no chatter.  There was a dream, but I don't remember it because it ended when the dogs woke me asking to go out at 4:00.  Jack got up and let them out and I was back asleep before he came back to bed.  And I slept.  Deeply.  Soundly.

I felt like singing when I woke up on Tuesday morning.  Something to that tune in Oliver!--Sleeeeep, glorious Sleeeeeep!!!!  It was delicious.  It was marvelous.  I felt whole and alert and available.

 Every morning since then, I wake up looking like this.  Or maybe with crazy hair.  But I'm sleeping.

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