Sunday, February 20, 2011

O Gentle Sleep

It’s with great fondness that I remember the days of my youth (which would be right up until 5 years ago) when sleep was a natural function of my body not something that needed to be catered to, coaxed, or induced.

I was always one of those people who would, no matter the mental or emotional trauma (and god knows there was drama trauma), fall soundly asleep no more than 10 minutes after my head hit the pillow. Those days feel long gone as I’m on night 5 of my latest fitful sleepfest. Going to bed used to mean just jumping in, curling up with a good book and reading until sleepy. Now while I still approach bed with pleasure there is trepidation under the surface. Will nature take her course or will I be forced to employ the mental rituals that are becoming more and more necessary to counteract the never ending noise in my head? Namely a long and varied list of mantras and affirmations that are supposed to soothe and focus my mind thereby lulling it into sleep.

Mantra Me: The right job will come along when I am ready
Thinking Me: Is ‘right’ the best word? Or should it be perfect?
Mantra Me: The right job will be perfect
Thinking Me: Should I include something about it being part-time?
Mantra Me: Again, it’s implied in the word right
Thinking Me: What about pay and benefits? Do you really think that’s covered in ‘right’? Plenty of people think minimum wage is right.
Mantra Me: Stifled groan. Deep sigh. OK, OK, move on from the job thing. You’ve let the universe know what you want
Thinking Me: But have I? Do I even know? I think I only know what I don’t want and if there’s one thing I learned from The Secret it’s positive intention. If you focus on what you don’t want that’s all you’ll get.
Mantra Me: You need to shut up now.
Thinking Me: Is job even the most important thing? How about something about my health? Or husband? Or his job?
Mantra Me: Dear God, if he loses his job we are totally screwed. Is that likely? Should that be my focus with a new mantra for him?
Thinking Me: How much longer before I can take half a klonopin?

To save time and your sanity this inner conversation cycles itself from my finding work to my finding a purpose in life to the future of my health and why MS sucks so much to family issues to what am I going to have for lunch tomorrow. All with mantra me and thinking me going at it and sometimes joined by authoritarian me who whose only words are: shut up shut up shut up, fall asleep fall asleep fall asleep….

So is sleep a friend or foe for you? Any rituals you'd care to share?


therhythmmethod said...

My relationship will sleep follows a similar pattern to yours, although I can blame kids for the deterioration. Funny thing is, now that all 3 boys sleep through pretty much every night, my body has been trained for sleeplessness. I'm starting to try meditation. Let's see how that goes ... :\

Abby said...

I miss Klonopin. Sigh...
As you might imagine from the "mental maraton" tagline of my blog, I have those constant streaming thoughts morning, noon and night. There are moments of reprieve, but it's hard to shut off the brain. This can make sleep a bitch.

I actually wrote a post last year about finally weaning myself off my natural sleep aids and I haven't had them for months (yay!), but I know if they were in the house I would be tempted.

I love sleep, and I do get enough so I can't quite relate to your issues all the time. But for me, it's an escape from those thoughts, a small span of time when I don't feel like I have to be "on" or in control. It's really a matter of letting myself enjoy doing nothing and sleeping without the guilt...or the Klonopin.

Sigh...I miss Klonopin.

Catherine said...

@Rhythm- meditation is a great thing and I used to do it. I need to get back to it.

Oh, Abby, you too? I am so careful w/ what we call vitamin K in our house but it does provide the loveliest sleep w/ grogginess in the morning. Thankfully, the sleep problems seem tied to hormones so it's not all the time.

Catherine said...

oops- w/o grogginess. seriously. not that you should take it.

Niki Hudson said...

Sleep is something I prize above all else (even over sex, which is saying a lot!). I have had issues with insomnia since my teen years (probably hormomone related - why is it SO complicated being a woman?) and have finally gotten myself into a decent sleep routine. I know I need 9 hours of sleep to function properly at work. So during the school year, I am in bed with a book at 8:00; lights out by 9:00. I hate admitting that to people because 9 hours seems like such a luxury already. I also often take melatonin, but try to wean myself off it during the summer.

That being said - it is summer right now and I have slipped back into my insomniac or, perhaps more accurately, "night owl" habits. Without the stringent routine of work, my body doesn't know what to do with itself. I'm not mentally tired enough to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, end up sleeping until noon, and feel guilty that I've missed half the day. Ugh.

So, sleep is a beast. Or, at the very least, an illusive unicorn. I agree. I hope you do find something that works for you. I love reading before bed and the melatonin does seem to work for me too. But most of all, I just need to completely EXHAUST my brain so that it can't fight back as I slip into dreamland.

Best wishes to you!

Mila said...

Uggh, sleep's been more of any enemy than a friendnemy?

If you discover a good, natural sleep aid, let me know.

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