November 15, 2004 by Allen George
Sleep. Or Lack Of.
Sleep and I have a tetchy relationship. Come to think of it – just like eating and I.
When you come down to it, there are another two major areas in my life with which I maintain a very precarious balance. Sometimes it’s instructive (and amusing) to think of myself as sprawled out on an ice floe that’s rapidly fragmenting. I’m desperately trying to hold everything together while questioning what to do with each piece. Flights of fancy.
At least with sleep, the relationship has improved. I’ve gone from little or no sleep -> highly intermittent sleep. And that’s where I am now. I’m thankful I’m not back to the low point.
My low point occurred in my third year winter term – 3A. It started during the OS project, a two week period over which I missed classes and devoted myself to the creation of the Real Time Operating System (RTOS) project. I stayed up late; often took 2~3 hour sleeps every day, somedays none. On those lucky days where I was too tired to think straight I’d hit the bed and sleep through my alarm. Sleep for 5 solid hours. That happened every 4/5 days.
I’d like to say it improved, but I’d be lying.
Circumstances changed and it got worse. Where my previous sleep deprivation was out of choice, for the latter half of the term I was often unable to sleep. I’d go to bed and lie, awake, awake for 2 – maybe 3 hours – brain firing madly on all cylinders. It wasn’t unusual for me to go to class with less than 4 hours of sleep. Go to class. Go to bars. Go to restaurants. Hang out with friends. Talk. Caffeine and I knew each other on a first name basis.
Late labs. Late homework. Remember staring at circuits, numbers dissolving into a mental fog. Reached for the tea and stared harder.
Do you know what its like to want desperately – above anything else – to be given a 7 hour respite from awareness?
And be denied that?
[twisted smile]Sleep became precious.
This term is significantly better. I no longer have those nightly bouts. Times when I’d feel like I was wrestling myself, forcing my eyes closed, my brain to gear down.
Now I can get to sleep easily – I just can’t stay there. Some nights it’s perfect. Solid 6~7 hours and I wake up feeling great. Others – I’m up intermittently. Every 1.5 hours. Or I can’t get more than 5 hours of sleep. My eyes open. Lie in bed, try to fall asleep again – and can’t.
Today was the kicker.
Woke up after 5 hours of sleep and couldn’t continue sleeping. Got up; did everything I had to do. Sat down on the bed…and woke up at 10:00.
[laughs]I think I’m going to have to look into causes of intermittent sleep.