What you’re about to read here on sleep, feels like an extension of my last write-up three months ago on my lack of skills in the areas of resting and relaxing.
And it is.
Cos of all the life skills I said I lacked so far, this is the one I really wish I could master one day, or I should say, one night:
Rather, what I now have is…
Sleep late. Up early. Rinse and repeat!
That pretty much sums up my sleep routine every day and night. There was even a period I found myself waking up at exactly 4.40 am, several nights in a row!
When I was younger, and I mean way, way younger, that would be no big deal.
Back then, there was always this sense I’m gonna live forever. I can get by on like two or three hours of sleep, pulling those all-nighters to finish my thesis or final year projects or whatever keeps me up at nights. And still emerging from my den when the sun rose, like a well-hibernated grizzly raring to resume a new day’s hunt.
The years I spent living on my college campus were especially memorable for all these late-nighters my roommate and I pulled, not to mention many others around us. Making our dorms like mini-hives of non-stop activities, even though it was pitch black everywhere, save for the night lights on our study tables.
Mind you, those were the days before Internet, laptops & mobile devices!
“Early-to-bed. Early-to-rise. Makes you healthy, wealthy, wise?”
But I must admit I wasn’t all that great when it came to staying up the whole night. Not from lack of trying I can tell you, especially when project deadlines loomed ominously!
Maybe it was my upbringing, since I actually come from a family of early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise folks. They seemed to subscribe to the whole “early to bed, early to rise; makes you healthy, wealthy & wise” diatribe. Certainly that was true for my parents for as long as I can remember. Even my much-older siblings, especially my sisters.
But these past few years? Heck who am I kidding?! This past decade or so, it’s just been impossible for me to hold fast to this “family tradition”.
As much as I hate to admit it, I think my sleep really got knocked for six when I became a dad. Those early diaper years in particular I still recall with a shudder. Up until then, the only other times I ever felt like my body had just been sucker-punched was when I had to perform night guard duty while serving in the army. But I was barely 20 then, compared to 40 when I became a parent!
And if I so much as stay up one minute past midnight these days, I can literally feel the prospect of a good night’s sleep just slip surreptitiously away.
The Science of Sleep
So what does the science have to say about my sad, sleepy state of affairs?
I won’t go into the facts and figures here, since the science of sleep is actually a very well-researched area, with new studies still popping up now and then. No doubt you my dear resourceful reader can easily google plenty more too.
The bottom line is that most research tell us that adults need at least an average of seven hours of good, uninterrupted deep sleep nightly (kids slightly more). Also, our sleep should rightfully comprise what experts refer to as a mix of REM and non-REM sleep cycles.
Having combed through various sleep-related articles, here’s what I’m convinced of, for now.
And since I turned 50 more than a year ago, those twilight years are practically a blink of a sleepy eye away!
Looks like this is something I need to redress pronto.
Now, the usual sleep tips and advice google-able include (but are by no means limited to) these:
– no caffeine or alcohol (or even plain water) before bedtime / Check
– no supper / Check
– exercise regularly / Check
– avoid daytime naps / (Definitely) Check, cos I already have rest & relax issues, remember?
– use the bed for sleep and keep it comfortable / Check
– have comfortable pillows, bolsters, mattresses, etc / Check
– stop screen time, to cut down on blue light exposure / Check (mostly!)
Given I’ve checked all of these already, what’s left for crying out loud?
Sighhh…in such times of sorry musing, I can’t help but agree with good old English poet W S Gilbert:
“When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo’d by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety.”
(W. S. Gilbert, 1836–1911)
And since it’s now already 5.30 am as I wrap up this post, I might as well give up any hopes of returning to slumberland and just go ahead with my morning routine.
“Zzzzz”….Or rather, “@#$%^&*@#$%^&*”!!