Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Troubled Relationship with Sleep

I have never been what you would call a morning person. My whole life, I have had difficulty getting up in the morning. I will hit the snooze button for an hour until the alarm shuts itself off. I use two alarms and it still doesn’t help. I’ve tried sunrise simulators, clock radios, and alarms that sound like birds chirping. In high school, it wasn’t uncommon for me to sleep until noon on the weekends. I sometimes nap during the day. I’m sure if I brought a pillow to work, I could easily crawl under my desk and fall asleep in the afternoon. I maintain a healthy diet and work out, but none of it seems to affect my need for sleep. I constantly beat myself up over it, since I feel like I am wasting time that I could be using for other things. R says not to worry so much about it; some people just need more sleep than others. But I still feel lazy. What’s more, I feel like crap if I allow myself to sleep as much as I want. I rarely wake up feeling rested. I suppose I could suffer from clinical hypersomnolence, although I’ve never been officially diagnosed.

Since I have a job where it doesn’t really matter what time I get to work, it only exacerbates my problem. I know I don’t really need to get up at a certain time, so I’m not very motivated. Even though I know getting to work late will force me to stay late in the evening, cutting into my personal time, I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed most mornings. I arrive at work at 10:00 or even 10:30, feeling guilty. Sometimes I wish my laissez-faire boss would actually be more authoritative. Sometimes I wonder if it would make a difference if I had a job that was a little more interesting. Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off working from home and adapting my work schedule to my natural rhythms.

Two years ago, I had a bout of insomnia that lasted for about a month. It was inexplicable and devastating. The inability to sleep was completely foreign to me. Being sleep-deprived left me emotionally fragile and mentally scattered. I had to quit my part-time serving job. I saw a sleep specialist, briefly tried medication, and came close to enrolling in a sleep study. Eventually, the insomnia went away, as mysteriously as it had begun. I hope I never have to experience it again. As lazy as I sometimes feel, I’d much rather be a hypersomniac than suffer through that again. But still, since my sleep habits leave me feeling like a slacker, it would be nice to find some balance. Maybe I should check into another sleep study. I certainly wouldn’t want to be dependent on medication to regulate my routine, but if there is something that can help me wake up feeling refreshed, I’d be willing to give it a try.

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