Monthly Archives: June 2012

too tired to sleep

One of the worst cycles I get into is the Short Sleep cycle. Most people have been there at some point, stuck in a recurring pattern where there isn’t enough time to sleep in, which results in overcompensating with too much caffeine too late in the day, which results in a sleepless night, when you can’t sleep in during the day, etc.

This week, I’m already behind on my sleep quotient because everyones sleep schedule is off in my household. We just got home from BC yesterday on a red eye flight, on which I couldn’t sleep, and Paul and Ben only napped for an hour or two. We all crashed upon getting home at 8am, but had decided to wake up at midday to avoid losing the whole day to sleep. So there we we were: up at noon, making coffee and trying to function. We let Ben sleep in until 1:30, but had to wake him then so he would go to sleep on time in the evening.

However, waking up tired still meant, in theory, that we would be able to fall asleep at a normal hour. I had also hoped it would help us avoid jetlag. But I had one too many cups of coffee yesterday, which was a Mistake. I still fell asleep at 9pm, but that had more to do with the wine we were drinking with friends than it did with actual sleep. I woke up at midnight, wide awake and dehydrated…and by the time I rehydrated, I realized I wasn’t falling asleep again anytime soon.

So, instead of staying in bed, this time, I just got up. I went into the living room, picked up my laptop, answered some personal emails, paid bills, and filled out the forms for a NYC drivers license and car registration. I watched a couple episodes of Once Upon A Time. I finished making a bread machine loaf of multigrain for Paul’s lunches, and thankfully, I was right there when Ben woke up after having a nighttime “accident”. It did make the insomnia a little more worthwhile, too, because I was able to be right there when my baby needed me to change his sheets and help him get into dry pajamas.

But after all that, I still couldn’t sleep until 5am. I almost gave up again and went back out into the kitchen to do dishes, cook for the week, do something productive to make the apartment look less cluttered. Instead, I read non-fiction for a while, and finally passed out. I woke up at the usual 6:30am weekday time, but then, lulled by rain, I fell asleep again…and didn’t wake up for good until 8am, when I realized I was going to be late for work.

I used to just push through after a sleepless night. But i know that when I’m tired, I dont work efficiently. I am not particularly coherent, or well spoken. I can lose train of though mid sentence. Worse, I don’t stay focused. My mind wanders, my work isn’t completed quickly or well. I don’t process information, or I make stupid mistakes and have to re-do work. On low sleep, I am not a valuable asset to anyone, and inefficient workdays result in long workdays to try and compensate for the low productivity.

It also kicks off an unfortunate cycle, because those tired days are laced with extra caffeine. I get home late, go to bed on time, and then can’t fall asleep because
I’m both wired and tired. Then I just lie there thinking about all the things I could be doing. Last night, I kept thinking I should be doing dishes or putting away laundry, because the house is a disaster area right now, and our suitcases aren’t even unpacked. I thought about going through my email and preparing for today, about getting ready to roll back into work, about even VPNing in and pulling the flash report for today’s client meeting.

I tried my favorite standby: nonfiction. I love historical nonfiction, but processing the information often makes me sleepy. I usually fall asleep after a handful of pages. But I made it through a whole chapter of Gotham: A History of New York City through 1898, and still was awake. I even ran white noise to try and induce sleep. Nothing was soothing enough to get through the caffeine.

I find this immensely frustrating because it’s such a waste of time being tired. My life feels so full these days, with so many things in it. Losing productivity due to sleep deprivation reduces the amount of things I can fit in a day. I feel like I don’t get as much value from time when that happens.

So tonight, i will get that sleep I need. I will resume life at its usual pace and velocity tomorrow. But I need that sleep. Sleep no longer seems like that waste of time it did when I was in my twenties, but a key part of living my life to the fullest. I think that’s part of being in this phase of life, when thre is a lot I need to be able to do, and people I need to do it for.

a week or family time

I’m writing this from my mom’s house in Oak Bay, in Victoria, in British Columbia.  Paul, Ben and I came out here on Monday, after a couple of quick days visiting friends & family in Vancouver.  My sister, her husband, and their  baby daughter have been here for the week as well.  The six of us have all been happily visiting Nana for longer than our usual four-day weekends because this may be one of the last times we’re all together in our childhood home.  Monica and Jonathan move to Toronto in two weeks, and with Paul and I settled in Brooklyn, who knows when all of us may make it home again from the East Coast?

This is not something I like to think about too much.  I’ve loved being here this week, with my family, in a leisurely visit. Being able to live everyday life, without being on a short visit timetable, has given all of us the time together we’ve only had in scraps and pieces for years.  Being all together in the same house has been quietly wonderful, a series of ordinary interactions and events that add up to be memories.  And while it’s a little strange to be the grown-ups in the place where we grew up, I also haven’t had the transition back to being Child In Parent’s House that usually goes with anyone’s trip back to their childhood home.

And now, today is Friday.  I’m not quite sure where the week went.  I spent part of Wednesday taking Mom to get a new TV, and switching her over to satellite from cable to go with it.  We spent yesterday at the Royal BC Museum, which is Victoria’s Natural History museum, and then took Ben to get his birthday present (a tiny scooter) in the Village.  We’ve spent hours at the beach I played on as a small child here, taking Ben to throw rocks, play on the driftwood logs, catch tidepool fish, and examine the purple shore crabs that live under the biggest rocks.  And today, after I supervise the installation of Mom’s new satellite dish, I’ll take my son out to a forest park somewhere, so he can enjoy the Pacific Northwest a little more before we leave tomorrow.

But still, the days have somehow both drifted by and flown by.  Drifted, because each day has been unhurried and slow paced; flown, because I can’t believe it’s Friday already and almost time to go.  This week has been a lesson in slowing down, for me, as I’ve put away my work computer and focused on time with my family or just plain “down time”.  It’s also been an example of how sometimes, the most ordinary things, like a week at home with the people who are closest to me, can be extraordinary.  This has been a week of being together, for days on end.  It’s been something special.  I’m very grateful that all of us, together, could take the time to be here.