(Before I even start the rest of this post, I will note that Day 2 on the treadmill desk is a bit disorienting. My fingers are hitting the keys all wrong and it’s frustrating. So I started this on the treadmill…and then cheated and finished the rest off… On the upside, I logged another 1.75 miles this morning.)
I didn’t really have much of an idea when I got out of bed this morning. (I didn’t have much time to think about it – I needed to move extra fast thanks to an app that requires me to scan a QR code to turn the alarm off – and the code was still on my computer…and my computer was conveniently close to the treadmill. Hmmm…) But I saw a tweet from Donalyn that made me think, “I could write about that…”
I don’t know how much I have shared this continuing saga of being up night after night in this space, but it’s true. I tried to capture my sleeplessness for the record with my handy-dandy Fitbit, but it doesn’t always accurately report that I’m awake if I am still. But it does mark how many times I probably wake up – anywhere from 6 to 20 times a night.
I don’t think it’s that my mind is racing or anything else. Unlike being a super-early-riser (I actually like being up at 4 or 4:30 in the morning…it’s nice to have that quiet to start my day), I suspect that I’m hardwired to be awake in the middle of the night.
A number of years ago, I stumbled across this short TED Talk and I felt like so much made sense.
At about 3:00 into this video, Jessa Gamble makes this statement about people’s sleep habits when they are not exposed to any artificial light at all: They go to bed around 8 pm and sleep until about midnight. Then they wake up from around midnight until 2 am for this kind of quiet, meditative time spent in bed.
When I first saw that, I thought, “Wow. Has this woman been following me around?” That is exactly what it feels like. That middle of the night time has been exactly like that.
That was a few years ago when I first saw that and I began to approach that middle of the night waking with a whole different attitude. It was the time where I thought through my plans for the day, read, dreamed up ideas to write about… Those couple of hours were not misspent on worrying about getting enough sleep after that.
Soon after this my doctor decided to switch my medication to prevent my migraines. There were problems with what I had been on so we needed to change to something else. The something else had a handy side effect of making one drowsy. So we decided it would be best for me to take it before bed.
No problem, right?
Except that in less than six months, I was back in her office complaining that I missed that quiet time in the middle of the night. The new medication was messing with my “insomnia.” We lowered the dosage and seem to be doing just as well with controlling my migraines, but I never really got back to where I was with that sleep cycle thing that I grew to love.
Now I might wake up and be awake for 5 or 10 minutes at a time many times over the course of the night. No sustained and predictable window of time like it used to be.
As frustrating as it is, I don’t think it will be like this forever. But it’s like this right now.
That RIGHT NOW is intimidating and unless we have the history of experience to know and remember that things can and do change.
Which, of course, ties back to my beginning. Making changes – getting my butt on the treadmill or making time to write or taking steps to reorganize/reprioritize/restructure the way I spend my time – is uncomfortable. And it’s hard…RIGHT NOW. But I have made changes before and managed to stick with them until they weren’t so hard. It just takes time. And a change of attitude.