Today, I’ll be doing just a short post to make a point: sleeping is a LOT more important than most of us think. As I have found out from the following personal experience, it’s far more important to daily function…and you’d be surprised how changed you are by just a lack of good rest!
I Slept, but I Did Not Rest
For months, now, I’ve been having a problem sleeping; though my body was absolutely exhausted, my brain never seemed to shut up. I would be uselessly awake until 4 or 5 in the morning, fighting to sleep yet never quite falling under, and then finally would fall asleep just as the sun was beginning to rise, awakening later in the morning (or sometimes in the afternoon).
But even though it seemed like I was sleeping enough hours, I never felt like I’d had enough sleep. My brain whirred even as I slept, producing strange dreams and waking me up every hour or so until it was time to get up again. I shut my eyes and was kind of unconscious for a while, but it was an uneasy, dozing sort of sleep, not restful at all.
Weird Body/Mind Symptoms
During this time, in which this behavior became slowly “the norm” for me, I noticed I had less and less ability to concentrate, was far more irritable than normal, and had absolutely no interest in doing anything I used to love doing. Whatever I happened to be doing at any given time, my brain wanted to be doing something “different,” something more “interesting.” But nothing I tried seemed to quite fit the bill. It almost felt like an oncoming lapse of depression.
Getting my weekly work of blog posts, Sunday school lessons, and housework completed felt nigh on to impossible with this kind of foggy, hateful brain; I was constantly restless and frustrated, and worries about all the things I hadn’t gotten done, which only added to the inability to go to sleep when night came. I didn’t want to start taking sleeping pills for fear I’d get too dependent on them and lose the ability to go to sleep naturally. (I’ve got two pharmacists for parents; I know what such drugs can do!)
The ultimate fail here? I didn’t connect my lack of sleep to my slowly worsening everyday function. I thought, as mentioned before, that I was lapsing back into depression–that’s exactly what it felt like. Plus, one of the symptoms of my depression, historically speaking, has been insomnia…it created a weird loop of logic that I was frankly too tired to explore too far.
The Random Restful Night of Sleep
And then, a few days ago, the storm of unrestful sleep broke, suddenly. I found myself sleepy around 9:00 PM that evening (a true rarity!), and experimentally, I set aside my glasses on the nightstand and turned over onto my side.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up almost 8 hours later, thinking I had only been asleep about 20 minutes or so! It seemed that against all odds, I had finally gotten a full night of sleep which didn’t feel like I was lying there waiting for the alarm to ring. I had fallen into absolute, blissful unconsciousness, without the aid of a single pill.
And the strangest thing?
I had ENERGY. I had FOCUS. I got stuff DONE. And all this before 10:00 AM?! I was shocked. For the last four months, I had been literally unable to peel myself from the bed before 11:00 AM, and that was “early.” I would try to get up and would fall back asleep in the middle of sitting up, in the middle of dressing, etc. But after this random night of inexplicable, restful sleep, it seemed I could actually get up like a normal person.
Not only did I get up, I stayed awake the whole day, and felt much more functional and much more “at myself.” I didn’t lose concentration all the time, I didn’t have to have 3 bazillion tasks going to keep my brain from being painfully bored, and I wasn’t sitting around feeling jittery and frustrated. It was as if someone had pressed “Restart” on my brain.
What Produced This Anomalous Night of Sleep?
Thinking back on it, I did a few things very differently on that fateful evening:
- I had to charge my smartphone, and the outlet is far away from my bed, so I couldn’t use the phone while in bed
- I wasn’t using my computer because I (surprise) had finished all my computer tasks for the day
- Nothing interesting was on TV, so I didn’t have it on
- I had no food or drinks left in my bedroom
- I hadn’t drunk anything in about an hour or two, so I wasn’t having to get up to go to the bathroom
- My bed was actually made up properly (for once, LOL)
In short, I removed all of the normal distractions (food, Internet, TV, bathroom breaks, etc.) and had made the bed as comfortable as possible. Then, I just allowed myself to shut my eyes without worrying that I was going to go crazy with boredom. (Couple that with the fact that I was REALLY exhausted already, and it’s no wonder I fell asleep and stayed asleep!)
Moral of the Story: Remove All Distractions, Get Comfy, and Let Sleep Happen
I’m serious–it really helps. Those are the only factors of my situation I changed, and I got the best sleep I’d had in months. If you’re having any of the distressing symptoms I was having, try doing anything you can to get decent sleep–you might just wake up healed!