The Price of Too Little Sleep

One of the worst parts about not sleeping enough over a long period of time is how divorced from reality that level of exhaustion can make you feel. Going without any sleep can rapidly turn bad, making you more susceptible to getting sick or even causing you to hallucinate if you go long enough without just collapsing. Definitely not going to deny how awful all that can be or imply that just being chronically short on sleep is worse than getting zero sleep. I think it’s just a different kind of hell, though. One that varies based on how much sleep you’re missing out on, as compared to what you need to feel functional.

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I Did Not Sleep Well And Now That’s Your Problem Too

Today has been rough. I apparently ate something that vehemently disagreed with me last night, but not until more than 9 or 10 hours after I finished my dinner, aka 4am. I did not get back to sleep after that and the sort of restless stress and general depression I’ve been battling this week meant I only got about 3 hours of sleep last night. Still managed most of my workout routine, though. My to-failure point on the cycling portion of my routine was about half of what I’ve done the rest of the week, but that kinda makes sense given how terribly my gastrointestinal system hurt all morning and how little sleep I got. Still, I’ve managed to keep up my routine to the best of my abilities and wasn’t even THAT late to work after all was said in done. The week is mostly over at this point, I’ll be able to rest soon, and the only stressful item left to do today is my weekly grocery shopping.

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I Have Post-Workout Sludge Brain

As part of my general efforts at improving myself and my life, I’ve started waking myself up at 6am again (something that I stopped doing a couple months into the pandemic) and immediately getting out of bed so I can exercise. Even with the extra hour I’m spending on working out, this has meant that I’m now at work by 8:30 every day, thirty to ninety minutes earlier that I was previously. Even though I’m only getting up an extra hour earlier. After all, if I get out of bed and start working out right away, that means I’m not spending thirty to ninety minutes of every morning laying in my bed, browsing twitter or reading comics on my phone. Or, you know, wallowing in depression as I struggle with motivating myself to get out of bed and actually do stuff with my day.

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This Tired Refrain

Not gonna lie, I was really hoping to start the month on better footing. I’m writing this on November first and pushing a bunch of other posts around so it can go up closer to the day I’m writing it, just so this doesn’t go up a week later and wind up completely detached from the reality in which I wrote it. Dunno how much I’ll be doing this, since I do want to keep things a bit more journal-y while working my way through Nation Novel Writing Month, but I expect I’ll also be tired, slightly overworked, and incredibly bad at editing anything as I write it. So we’ll see. I like to avoid posting error-filled blog entries if I can avoid it.

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Saturday Afternoon Musing

I just took a five-day weekend and I already need another. One of the things I’ve been reflecting on recently is that it has been quite a summer. Two weddings because the relationship I was in, the end of the relationship I was in, throwing myself into my writing and my work in order to take attention away from the end of the relationship I was in, working more than ever so I could pay off my car loan, paying off my car loan, tons of flooding in my area, winning the Hamilton lottery, going to see Hamilton, trying to enjoy my long weekend and the game I took it for and being unable to because the internet has been going in and out without warning or pattern… A lot has been going on.

Sure, some of it has been good stuff, like the lottery and Hamilton, but that’s a still lot of emotional energy that gets spent. I can tell I’ve reached a new low because I’m always filled with the kind of existential exhaustion I associated with my depression but none of my other usual symptoms that go along with it. I also find myself spending an hour or more sitting on the couch, doing nothing or letting the TV just run because I know the internet is out again and, sure, I could write in a Microsoft document and just past it into WordPress when I’m finished or I could even just grab my phone and write my posts on it if I don’t want to bother with a bunch of temporary files but that’s a lot of effort and it’s taking all the energy I’ve got to just stay calm about how unreliable the internet has been and how that’s been negatively impacting my relaxation activities. Which isn’t at all a description of how I spent my early afternoon while waiting for the internet to come back so I could finish today’s post and get it online.

It definitely doesn’t help that work has been super stressful as well. We’ve got a big deadline coming up and I’ve had to assert my priorities to some senior coworkers a lot more than I’d like to. I’ve also had to deal with the prospect of getting put on a future project that continues a current project which has been a total nightmare of everything going wrong and one person domineering the design decisions. It’ll be a great product eventually, of course, but a lot of the time it feels like it’ll be good despite some people’s best efforts to turn it into an unholy abomination of things that sound good but are totally useless. I am extremely uncomfortable with conflict, but I keep finding myself gearing up for them at work because I don’t mind telling people they’re wrong or that they’re wasting my time. I’m one of the only people stubborn enough to sit through an hour of a meeting and stick to my (correct) line of reasoning rather than just agreeing so the meeting will end. I don’t blame my coworkers for not being willing to fight to the death like I am because they’ve been dealing with this guy for much longer. Most of them are much friendlier than I am with people who waste their time and none of them are as stubborn as I am. I’m a perfect storm of the right personality traits to confront people like this person and the sincere desire to never be in conflict ever. I’ll fight the battle because I recognize it needs to be fought and, if it turns out well for me, will save me stress and effort in the long run, but I’d also rather just keep my nose down and get through each day as it comes.

Some days, it feels like a lot of my life is like that. Lots of stress and effort now so things will hopefully be easier later. As I see this particular thought crop up in my life, I find myself wondering at what point I stop thinking “it feels like” and start thinking “my life is”? I think the main problem the later is that it’s easy to go from reflecting on how much effort I put into everything in my life these days to a whole slew of negative thoughts. Stuff like “is it worth working this hard” or “I have to work this hard because nothing good ever happens” or “I wish something nice and easy would happen because nice stuff never happens to me,” all of which are false. If anything, this past summer has taught me that this isn’t really a “good” versus “bad” scenario, this is a “work” versus no work” scenario. I did no work to get the Hamilton Tickets. Spent twenty dollars and clicked stuff on an app every day for so long I forgot I was doing it. That’s not any kind of definition of work in my book. That was a good thing that happened to me. It was an amazing thing that happened to me and I’ll be holding on to that happy giddiness for months.

I don’t sleep enough. I take care of myself last of all. I have depression that leaves me feeling listless and unable to do anything but focus on moving myself forward through the day. I get so caught up in my anxieties I can’t breathe. I have a hobby that fills my soul with meaning and helps me set direction for myself. I have good friends around me who care about me and the stuff I care about simply because I care about it. I have terrible luck, but it often turns good in surprising ways and at unexpected times. I can support myself and am only financially limited by my willingness to work extra hours. I make enough that I don’t actually need to work more than my required minimum number of hours to make ends meet. My life is pretty well-balanced, honestly. It’s not bad. It’s not great, either, but it’s on the positive side of neutral. I just have to work hard pretty frequently. Not because my life or lifestyle is in danger if I don’t, but because that’s the cost of making progress on my dreams. I wish it was easier, but then I probably wouldn’t value the time I get to work on my dreams as much as I do. I wouldn’t value a quiet weekend in the woods as much as I do.

Today, I don’t wish my life was different. Today, I just wish I had a few extra hours each day. There’s so much to do… It’d be easier if I suddenly got four extra hours every day so I could sleep more. I bet I’d get a lot more done if I was well-rested all the time. Maybe that’s what I should do with my next vacation. Just go to bed every day at ten at night instead of staying up super late because I know I don’t need to get up for anything in the morning. It’s worth trying, some day.

 

Sleep Deprived

I no longer sleep because I think of you.

I can sleep no longer
              because I think of you

My weary eyes refuse to shut again
And all my dreams reach fever-pitch
Before I lurch awake
                           clutching sheets
That have tangled me in my sleep

Weary eyes with constant crusts
              forming at the corners
Unblinking and blankly stare
At my desk while I try to work

I speak in stifled yawns to my own hands
As my bleary eyes plod through the day
              and bits of conversation
                             lose all
                                          connection
                                                        and meaning

I speak in stifled yawns and bleary eyes
As I vaguely try to find my notebook
So I can write down each of the replies
I’ll no longer remember tomorrow
No one knows what to make of this
And all I can tell them is it will be fine
              at some point in the future
For now
              I trace big lines on paper
              where I was supposed to write words
And      drift away         until I can leave
To find myself a moor for the evening.

I’d like a Prescription of Sleep to Address my Tiredness Problem, Please.

The last couple days, I have reached mid-afternoon and felt totally exhausted. I finish up whatever I’m doing (Pokemon Go Community Day events yesterday and moving the bed set I bought from a friend today) and, as soon as I take a moment to relax, I’m suddenly so tired I want to collapse.

Because of my insomnia and tendency to avoid sleep in order to maximize the amount of time I have to do things with my day, I tend to crash when I go to bed instead of just fall asleep. While I could easily blame this for my sudden exhaustion after doing something moderately active (lots of walking and moving a bunch of crap), I’ve lived in this state of perpetual crash-readiness for over a decade now. You can’t lie awake staring at the ceiling for hours because you can’t turn your brain off long enough to fall asleep if you’re so tired your brain shuts off as soon as you’re in bed. You can’t waste your night feeling anxious if you’re too tired to feel anything but sleepy.

Yes. I am quite aware this isn’t healthy and I’m taking things to an extreme to make a point. I live like this all the time, even when I’m being very physically active, so why am I suddenly exhausted when my day is barely even half over?

As I lay on the couch, trying to not fall asleep so I didn’t let my dinner burn in the oven, it struck me. I’m so tired because I’ve been spending so much mental energy on myself lately. Normally, my mental energy is what I’ve got in excess and what I use to help mitigate a shortage in either my physical or emotional energies. It is my will power and I’ve been spending it a lot as I try to make myself focus on something I’ve been deliberately ignoring for a couple of years or longer. Which means my relatively low levels of physical energy due to sore muscles from my weekly fighting practices and my very low levels of emotional energy because I’ve been digging through some tough shit don’t get replenished. This can cause weird moments like how I felt when I got back to my car after dropping off the U-Haul van I rented to move the mattress, box spring, and bed frame. I wanted to just collapse on the seat with the door open, cry my eyes out (not for any particular reason, I just felt like crying), and then drive home without calling my girlfriend to see if she wanted to do anything like we originally planned or just rain check it because she was tired from the engagement party she went to the night before. I just burned through all of the energy I had and was left with only the last dregs of my willpower.

I did not of those things. I turned my car on, took a few calming breaths, spoke with my girlfriend, and then drove myself to get some things for dinner. Now, having eaten my dinner and had a bit of caffeine to help me hobble through the rest of the day, I’m updating this blog because I’m not letting anything stop me from updating it daily. Even now, as I write, I want to just lean back in my chair and cry. Or put my sheets back on my bed as I exhaustion-cry before closing the blinds and collapsing onto my bed to sleep until time has no meaning and idea of “Chris” has melded with my new mattress and the universe returns to being the illusion new age gurus would have us think it is.

This leads me to believe that my willpower is limitless or at least a poor concretion of a difficult abstract idea. I’m doing none of those things. I’m doing what I think is an important part of my day-to-day life, keeping up with the goals I set for myself, and taking the requisite actions to ensure that my health (physical and mental) doesn’t deteriorate beyond repair.

I used to really love the “spoons” metaphor as an example of what it means to live with a chronic illness (mental illnesses are included in this) but I’ve kind of found that it doesn’t exactly work for me. If I feel something needs to get done and I have no way of making it easier on myself by adjusting the goalposts, I will just get it done. It’s hard to say I’m restrained to a certain number of spoons if I just give myself more for free when I feel the situation calls for it.

Now, I wonder if I am hurting myself by pushing myself past the point where all I want to do is collapse, or do I just feel like I want to collapse because my depression and mental illnesses tell me that I’ve done so much already and deserve to rest? Do I naturally have this energy and don’t feel like I do because my depression hides it behind a steady litany of how unable I am? I’ve heard of a lot of people who have similar anxiety, OCD, and depression problems who have said they felt like they regained a ton of energy once they were on a medication that helped treat their mental health without over-burdening them with horrible side-effects. Part of me wants to try out the medication route again just to see if I can get a similar boost. Even if I have the same amount of energy overall, no longer needing to fight myself and this weird feeling of consumptive exhaustion in order to use it would be amazing.

I don’t know. I’ll talk about it with my healthcare providers and we’ll see what comes of it. In the mean time, I’m going to reflect on my habit of exhausting myself, why I feel so tired this weekend, and how I can seem to spend so much energy on untangling my mind without realizing it. I hope you had a great day and found something in this rambling reflection piece that got you thinking. I know I did.

 

Saturday Morning Musing

Well, it’s not really he morning anymore, but I was up almost all night, tossing and turning super slowly so I wouldn’t vomit. Which I eventually did anyway. Now I’m just kind of floating hrough the day with a massive headache, unable to sleep because of the pain and the really friggin’ weird dreams I have every time I try.

Sorry this isn’t more interesting, but I’ve gotta post every day no matter what and I’m too out of it to come up with anything interesting. I feel pathetic, so I’m just going to cut it off here before the self-pity party starts. Hope you all have a great day.