Monitoring my sleep.

I’ve been writing about big topics lately but today I’m writing small. As in…about my personal life and not wide-reaching reflexive commentary on politics or body issues. I basically am just doing a “what I did the last 48 hours” which you already know if you watch my instastories. Although, honestly I hope you don’t because it turns out my southern accent because 9 million times worse when I’m tired.

SO.

If you’ve never had kids join swimming you may not know this but if your kids swims, YOU also have jobs. Kids swimming requires a volunteer force about the size of the team itself – especially for home meets. As I talk to other friends with kids in swimming it seems that every team sets up these obligations differently. With our team, if you take one of the “lead” jobs it takes all of your requirements for the actual meets. I ended up with one of those lead jobs: CONCESSIONS. I shop/stock/store/inventory/set-up/take-down concessions for every home meet. SO! This past Wednesday Nikki and I started at 3:45 by loading up the car with 180lbs of ice, 3 coolers, 6 cases of sodas and 3 cases of water and made our way to the meet. We unloaded everything (WHICH WAS EXHAUSTING) and set up the concession stand (we keep SOME stuff at the pool, but most was at my house) and then I sat in the sun for 3 hours watching the meet before having to tear the concession stand down and pack it all up again. After this EXHAUSTING day, we hit the road to Nashville.

We got to the airport about 11:30pm, went in to use the bathroom and then came out to TRY to sleep in our cars for a few hours. I maybe got 90 minutes of sleep over the course of 3.5 hours, Nikki got about two hours. Then we loaded her through security and got her on her plane to Colorado before 5am. Because of the bad weather I immediately hit the road to Knoxville after she left, hoping to get to Mom’s in time to nap some. Well, the storms were terrible enough that the flash flood warnings kept popping up on my phone. I stopped for a long breakfast once, and then just took an indefinite break at a rest stop when it looked like the storms were here to stay. I slept about an hour then.

I finally made it to Knoxville around lunch and napped for 2’ish more hours giving me a grand total of about 4-5 hours of interrupted sleep in about 40 hours NON-STOP CHAOS. I went for a run, met a friend for a walk, and then settled into crash about 8:45pm. I just woke up around 4:20am and while I feel 100% more human, I AM STILL TIRED AS HELL.

My point of this play-by-play is to set up so I whine about exhaustion.

Here’s the thing: I NEED MY 8 HOURS OF SLEEP EVERY NIGHT. Now, I rarely get it, especially lately…BUT I NEED IT. My emotions go WACKO after a few days of less than even 7 hours. I see people say all the time they live on 6.5 hours a night and YOU ARE ALL INSANE. If that was my average I would be institutionalized and that is NOT an exaggeration. I become exponentially more mentally ill with every passing day of NOT ENOUGH sleep. I will need a nap to catch up even if I’m only a little behind…just to settle my emotions down.

Now, give me a summer of 6-hour nights broken up by lots of driving (which you may recall is one of my BIGGEST anxieties, which becomes even bigger when you thrown in Souther Summer Storms into EVERY SINGLE DAMN DRIVE) and then throw in 48 hours of chaos then yesterday was like a recipe for EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN CODE RED. So I was VERY aware of my emotions all day.

I knew the run and then walk with my friend would help, and it did. Exercise is like a temporary reset.

But afterwards, I bowed out early and told my friend, “I FELT MY BRAIN SHUTTING DOWN.” I could tell my emotions were just stable enough for mild socializing, but I was TIRED and I removed myself before I erupted into tears watching my friend’s kid at their swim meets SIMPLY BECAUSE I WAS TOO TIRED.

Learning how important sleep was to my emotions was VERY KEY because if I’m tired, I know to be on the look out for situations to avoid. Don’t discussion conflicting parenting theories with my husband when I’m tired. Don’t discuss politics with Trump-voting loved ones when I’m tired. Don’t discipline my kids when I’m tired. (That one is hard to avoid, obviously, but y’all – I’m a terrible Mother when I’m tired. I really should just avoid them entirely.) And from last night: Don’t be around people who might not understand if you randomly cry when you’re tired. I mean, I’m a crier on a GOOD day, I cry at sappy commercials and kid’s art when I’m well-rested.

So, yeah. Learning to remove yourself before embarrassing yourself is key.

I got some rest, but I’ll probably try to take another nap today because I have to drive back tonight and have a long run at 5:30am tomorrow. This routine of driving to Knoxville for 3-4 days of every week to help my Mom has definitely made it harder to keep my sleep levels in the “healthy” range, so I’m relying a lot more on naps when I can. Anything to keep on the “light” side of existing, because no matter how regulated my anxiety and depression are on a GOOD day, even if I’ve not had a BAD day in a while, being tired will toss all of that out in the garbage. I make TERRIBLE self-care decisions when I’m tired and I tend to make EVEN WORSE interpersonal relationship decisions which creates ripples of darkness than can last for days.

Nope. I have learned not to do that. I insist on naps and early bedtimes instead. No one has time for that shit.

2 Comments

  • Jana Frerichs

    I am the exact same! A good friend of mine can get by with only 5 hours a night and it amazes me. A couple weeks ago, I had a horrible week of sleeping. I couldn’t get more than an hour of sleep at a time. I cried my face off and was on the verge of a breakdown.

  • Lucy McConville

    I feel your pain. I tossed and turned all night…insomnia…and I am a wreck today. I wish there would be more press…and real campaign…about the dangers of sleep deprivation. SO MUCH mental health mishap could be avoided if humans would just get more sleep! I have said for years, “Sleep deprivation is the silent killer,” and stand by that theory whole-heartedly. I know someone (finally) diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was nearly fifty years old. Of course, he showed signs and there were problems for years before this. The interesting thing is that when he was a kid he was engaged in a hobby that had him talking to people in other parts of the world until all hours of the night. His parents didn’t “make” him get a consistent 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night when he was a young teen. I swear, someday they are going to find out that even if you have the “bipolar gene”, it can be held at bay if you regulate your sleep RELIGIOUSLY from an early age. If I win the lottery I’m going to fund this research. In the meantime…GET REST, all of you…and make sure your CHILDREN are getting proper sleep, especially as teens. (Exit soap box, stage right…Ha)