Monday, August 2, 2010

Sleepscape

Deb: When I am sad I fall into a hypnotic state. My brain becomes the drug pusher in this “trip” of sleep that takes over my body. Everyone deals with sadness and stress differently. I fall into sleep. Constantly and willingly. I cannot for the life of me stay awake no matter what.

My brain is protecting me. Good old brain. I look at my sleepscape as a gift, one that has been handed down to me through generations. You see, my people are sleepers. At least half of my people. My Dad is the sleeper, my Mom is the night owl partier. When I was growing up my Dad became the cartoon Dad in the comic strips. He could and would nap on a dime. Anytime, anywhere. Parties, picnics, plays, you name it. It was a sore spot for Mom as she saw this as disrespect and something for her to be embarrassed about. And from her point of view, I get it. She clocks her 18 hours of wake time and wears it like a badge of honour. Sleepers are weak from her point of view.

But as I’ve gotten older, I realize that we are all sleep wired. Our brains are dictating to our bodies just how much sleep we need. For me, it’s eight hours, but I’ll happily take nine. Can’t help it. To quote Popeye, “I yam who I yam.”

I read articles about people like Martha Stewart and her four hours of sleep and I am pea green with envy. Can you imagine all the things you could accomplish if you only required four hours? Wow. I could repaint the sky in that time. But I’m not awake long enough so I’ll just paint the bit that’s over my house.

And then I’ll do what I do with all the challenges in my middle-aged life. I’ll make friends with my sleep. After all, It gives me the morning gift of refreshed renewal and when I’m sad, it heals me. One nap at a time.

Barbara: Well, Deb, we are the same on this point. I have always needed a full night of sleep myself—yup, eight to nine hours––and I’ve always, always envied the don’t-need-to-sleep-much sleepers. Those people who get up at the crack of dawn (or earlier), workout, walk the dog, watch the sun rise, read the paper, then go to work, work their asses off, come home, fine dine, socialize, then write their manuscripts. It seems so purposeful, even if it also seems so potentially stressful. Funnily, for the longest time, I imagined you were one of those, Deb. You always seemed to be up and at ‘em. It’s strange how it comforts me to know that you do all that you do and get exactly the same amount of sleep as I need.

I also try to take comfort from those sleep studies that extol the virtues of a good eight hours for health and beauty reasons. But that might just be me grasping at straws—because the little-sleep people seem just as healthy and beautiful as any others (I mean, Martha Stewart? Come on. After all that she’s accomplished and been through, she’s downright babelicious.) So I think your “sleep wired” theory explains that little puzzle.

As for the sad sleep—well, there’s no doubt about sleep’s essential value when I’m in the doldrums. If my problems don’t haunt my dreams, the sleepscape––as you so beautifully call it—is such a tonic for my pain and stress and disappointment and loss. It is the place where I can actually paint the sky then fly through it unfettered, only coming back to earth when it’s time to wake up and face the world.

Sweet dreams, my dear friend.

9 comments:

  1. I am like that too. There is nights that I do not go to bed until 4 in the morning and then I don't get up until 1 or 2 the next day. I really don't sleep when I am stressed. If anything I stay awake and sit in my room thinking. If I would try to go bed when I am stressed than I would toss and turn all night. I have a weird sleep pattern and I always have so I am hoping that I can catch more sleep when I get a little older and actually wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and awake.

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  2. Deb-

    {{{HUGS}}}

    Love and hugs,
    R

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  3. Yeah it's true Lyndsie, all of our bodies give us what we need don't they. And thanks Rigel, you read between the lines. But the good news to all our lovely readers, is that Frisker has rallied for a second time. I came home from Regina this weekend thinking it was the end and he is now on the mend again. Thanks mostly to Barb's dear friend Charlotte's suggestion of a homeopathic vet who is giving us more quality pain free time with our little boy. So back to Regina go I with my last few days of shooting and more importantly, a clear conscience and light heart. xo

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  4. I am a sleeper too. When I'm sad or depressed that what happens to me. I can't keep my eyes open.
    When I was younger I tried to be one of those other people and force myself to stay awake. All that did was make me irritable, unable to think straight and laps into a coma like sleep. You know the kind where you wake up and have no idea if it morning or night or even where you are for that matter.
    Over the years I have come to realize everyone's body is different and we need to listen to what it wants, not what we want. It always wins out in the end anyway so way fight it.

    Deb I'm glad you baby is doing better, and I hope he continues to improve.

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  5. I need my sleep too. I generally function on about 6.5 hours during the week, but then get about 10 a night on Friday and Saturday--hubby swears I can't bank them, but I insist it mostly works. I'm always happiest with 8-9 hours.

    Deb-your sleepscape reminds me of my daughter when she was a baby--I would take her places and anyplace with too much going on and she would CRASH--couldn't wake her up for anything. It would be so handy as an adult, in some ways.

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  6. Actually, Hart, a friend went to a sleep clinic many years ago suffering from sleep deprivation after weeks of all-nighters writing his college end-term papers and prepping for exams. The doctors, in fact, told him that you can -- maybe not bank sleep -- but make up for lost sleep by sleeping more on other days (in his case, I think he had to sleep for 5 weeks straight! Kidding, but it was close...) So, I think you can claim a victory point there with your husband, bwa ha.

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  7. You lucky, lucky girls- you get your mandatory hours of sleep without working for it!
    I've been one of those people who could easily function on 4 hours of sleep, and 6 hours used to be oversleeping.
    But then I read somewhere that the body NEEDS more sleep than that, and if you try to do without even if you think you don't need more, you are taking a short-cut to the final D.
    I force myself to have seven hours of sleep these days, but it is hard to (a) sleep that much, and (b) not miss the things I used to otherwise do during those hours.

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  8. Deb, you're the first person I've heard say you go to sleep to deal with sadness. When my son was about two I took him to a Jurassic Park type of dinosaur exhibit in Edmonton where the dinosaurs were life-size, moving, and noisy (What was I thinking?). He was instantly terrified and wouldn't calm down. I left the display area with him and he instantly fell asleep, and didn't wake up for a good long time. Makes sense to me that sleep is a great escape. I envy you (and Everett) having it as an option.

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  9. And it's so true that those who get up earliest seem nobler! Hardly fair to those of us who need all the beauty rest we can get.

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