Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Night Owl Syndrome, Part 2

I started this blog with a post about the stress of trying to regulate my sleep cycle.  Particularly since it was the beginning of the year and I had been off for 3 months--plenty of time to revert to my more natural night owl state.

I am in the same predicament this week, except that my sleep cycle is even more out of whack than usual.  In addition to the normal job stress and abrupt transition into having nothing to do at the end of the term, I was also dealing with the fallout from the student death and extended periods of loneliness and isolation.  I fell into a pattern of going to bed at 4 am and waking up at 4 pm, with a few hours of wakefulness in between.  And as usual, I was racked with guilt and self-loathing about this.

My dad and two of my brothers are also night owls.  While my family was together over Christmas, my dad hardly slept at all, and when he did it was well past 2 am.  One of my brothers went to bed around 6 am.  The other brother woke up around 6 pm.  Yet they did not appear to be racked with the same guilt and self-loathing as me. 

Which is the reason why I originally started this blog.  Accepting who I am, including my obsessive tendencies, problems with guilt, and wacky sleep schedule, takes continuous practice.  If I neglect to do it, I fall prey to depression and anxiety.

And writing about how I was feeling during that period definitely helped.  It was cathartic.  It helped me to remember what I tell my clients. It provided me support, positive feedback, and extra angels.  And some of the most depressing posts were among the most popular ones, so I know I'm not alone.

Perhaps I should start recommending blogging as an important component of self-care.  Right up there with sleep, exercise, food, and mindfulness.

Last night I went to bed before 1 am without having to rely on extra Ativan.  And I woke up at 7 am because I had a doctor's appointment.  That's as close to a "normal" sleep cycle as it gets for me.  So going back to work has been a good thing.  Still,  if I didn't have to go back this week, I wouldn't have. 

Fortunately, sometimes you are forced to do things that are good for you, whether you want to or not.  


Anonymous said...

No need to feel guilt. No need to feel on the opposite of world tide tables. Your circadian rhythms will eventually work for you. Edison often worked through sleep and meals until he'd realized completion .

christy barongan said...

I have written some good blogs in the middle of the night :)

robyn said...

You'll feel better about yourself if you just accept your sleep patterns. Working nights, I tend to sleep crazy hours and sometimes all I want to do is sleep. I used to get all mad at myself because I wasn't up doing active things like I thought I should be doing. I learned to accept myself as I am. It's wasting time getting mad at yourself over it.

christy barongan said...

I hear ya. Therapy isn't conducive to a night owl schedule, unfortunately. Maybe if I ever get paid to write...

christy barongan said...

I'm going to start texting more you in the middle of the night when I'm awake, Robyn.

eighthof8 said...

I know the feelings most of you have about this subject. There are so-called "experts" that say there is no such thing as a "night-owl", it's a "learned" experience. absolutely not true!

I've suffered with this condition from the time I was a child. My Father worked midnights and couldn't sleep during the day. I'm the youngest of 8 and several of my siblings stay up close to midnight, and 1 suffers from the syndrome I have, staying awake until from 4-6 am. Maybe my Father fighting to stay awake at night, and trying to sleep during the day caused some kind of defect in my genes when I was born who knows.

It seems high school was the worst. I'd lay in bed trying to sleep so I'd be able to go to school in the morn, and no matter what I tried, it failed! I'd drive to school and sleep in the car for a couple of hours, then tell some big lie to the counselor so he'd write me an excuse so I could attend the rest of the day.

Well because of all the school missed, I didn't graduate. I went back 30 years later and got my diploma though. Funny thing, my whole adult working life I was asked if I graduated, but I never had to prove it.

Best thing that ever happened to me was getting a job working for the Railroad at age 19. No one wanted to work midnights, but I craved them. I couldn't believe that a company would hire and me and pay me well to work the hours that fit my schedule.

I guess that's what I would suggest to others out there with this, in my opinion, a terrible curse! Find a job in your area that has a 3rd shift. Tell the company that you prefer to work nights and you will be available and you will be dependable. There's not many that can do it comfortably and stay alert at some weird hour in morning, but we can!

Don Perkins