Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Barely breathing, now I lay me down to sleep ...
Okay, so I promised to talk about my sleep schedule. First, a bit of history. Item 1: I have fibromyalgia. It's very under control, but one of my major issues for a long time was sleep. Essentially, I'd sleep for 8 hours a night, and wake up exhausted. So, a doc put me on a tricyclic antidepressant, which at least helped. However, the antidepressant would build up in my system funny and stop working for long periods and I'd have to switch things around. Also, I couldn't take it if I was drinking, and it made me groggy for at least 8 hours, so I didn't want it if I couldn't stay in bed that long.
Anyway, my sister introduced me to the concept of polyphasic sleep. What that means is that sleep happens not in one chunk at night, but in various sized chunks throughout the day. The most classic, but hardest to maintain, form of this is to sleep for 20 minutes every 4 hours. I prefer a more flexible version where I sleep about 4 hours a night, and then take 2-3 20 minute naps throughout the day.
But wait, you say, how can a 20 minute nap work? People don't even fall asleep in 20 minutes! I would respond with, they do if they are super tired. To get this to work, you have to go through an adjustment period where you get very, very little sleep and your body *has* to learn to get good sleep in short periods to survive. Since I was already tired all the time anyway, I figured I didn't have much to lose.
The idea at night is to aim for complete sleep cycles, and then the naps I go straight into REM sleep. It's the complete sleep cycles that have been throwing me off, because if my alarm wakes me at the wrong time in the middle of a cycle, I'm super tired. However, at the right time, I'm wide awake. Most people's sleep cycles are 90 minutes. From experimentation, mine seems to be closer to 80 minutes. So, last night I went to bed around 12:30am and woke up this morning at 4:30am (240 minutes, or 3 complete cycles). I'll nap today around 2pm and again at 8pm.
I'm not 100% on schedule. If I overwork myself or am catching a cold or something, I'll be more tired and I'll get more sleep. I'll extend my nights to 5-6 hours or take an extra nap. However, usually, I feel better than I ever did before.
I DO NOT recommend this for an average person who sleeps normally and wakes feeling rested. It is a hard adjustment. On the other hand, if you already have sleep and fatigue issues, like I did, why not, right!?
So, when I talk about sleep, it's a little more than just getting a lot. Actually, if I stay in bed longer, I end up feeling more tired overall, so it's my goal to get up when I'm supposed to. Sometimes though, when it's cold and my bed is warm, it's hard. If I catch a sleep cycle wrong, it messes me up.
This morning, I was dead on. I was wide awake at 4:30, and have been rolling ever since. I'm hoping to make that a chain reaction this week.
Well, there's not much else to update since these posts are so close together. The gym was good. I've been doing piriformis stretches, and then seem to help. I've eaten good food. Now, I'm heading back to the gym, then a meeting, and then maybe some running, and general class related stuff. Whew, another full day, I better get on that!
Onward and upward!