Recently, I stumbled into performing a bit of an experiment on myself.
The mechanism was simple : I stopped using my sleeping pills. First time was an acident – I just plain forgot. But the result was fascinating enough to encourage me to keep it going.
First of all, my previous sleeping pattern almost immediately, and I can see how very strange it is now.
It’s a simple cycle : two hours awake, one asleep. Two hour bursts of activity followed by a one hour nap.
That’s the same ratio of wakeful hours to sleep hours as everyone else, of course. We spend a third of our lives asleep. It’s just that for most of us, that sleep comes in a single bundle of eight hours of sleep per night.
For me, it was more spread out.
And it’s an easy pattern to fall into when your computer room is also your bedroom and the bed is your computer desk. Add in depression and you have opened the door to a very strange lifestyle indeed.
It’s a lifestyle that can only exist when you are an isolated depressed loner, of course. Normal people have all kinds of things that make that kind of life impossible. Things like jobs and spouses and social commitments and all the other things of which I have no personal experience to draw upon.
But I’ve heard good things about them.
Anyhow, he said, violently jerking himself back to the point, I stopped taking the pills at night and my old pattern reasserted itself.
Not fully, thankfully. Trust me, it’s a bad place to be in, despite sounding kind of pleasant in a very lazy kind of way.
The big problem is that it traps you in the space between sleep and being awake. And you never truly wake up. That’s why it is so attractive to a depressive like me. The coziness of sleep never entirely fades away and in fact hangs around as an extra layer of warm numbness that protects me from the outside world.
But in the long term, it only makes things worse. There’s a reason why it was while living that lifestyle that I had the worst depression of my entire life and it’s because this half-asleep state suppresses your executive level brain functions, including the ones that keep your sanity together.
So I lost myself. The world felt increasingly unreal, and so did I. This terrible twilight I was living in was taking its toll on me and I was going along with it because it was easier than living.
Not better, in any way shape or form. Just easier.
Again, I drag myself back to the point.
This experiment of mine yielded the expecvt effect : the resumption of a previous sleeping pattern. Admittedly, I had forgottten exactly what that entailed, but I can’t say I was surprised to find myself back in that zone.
The surprising result was that I felt great.
For a while at least. Perhaps it was simple eupohoria from having to drag myself up out of the deep pit of apnic sleep any more. Perhaps it was my body’s ability to produce a natural stimulant when needed, and so I was kind of high on that. Perhaps it was the rare privilege of staying out of my own depths for a while.
Whatever it was, I felt pretty good. So good I was starting to contemplate discontinuing my use of my two sleep aids, Quietiapine and Trazodone, permanently.
Another interesting side effect : my sleep cycle became entirely nocturnal. Dawn made me sleepy and I did not wake up and perk up and feel ready to take on the world till it went down. It seems to be my natural sleep cycle.
I’m a creature of the night, apparently.
And looking back, I can see that there have been signs of this readily apparent in my life. I’ve mentioned how difficult I find afternoons to be in the space many times. Well that’s because the afternoon is actually my “middle of the night” and so it’s no wonder I am having difficulty staying awake during this time.
My body really wants to be asleep.
And it’s only the idea that I am “supposed” to be awake in the afternoons that has made me fight it for all those years. A social expectation of proper wakefulness timing has made me go to war with my own body.
I’d be far better off simply accepting it.
So now I have to contemplate an entirely nocturnal life. One where sunset is my dawn and supper is my breakfast. One where I am on a very different clock than others. One which is more or less the mirror image of how it’s “supposed” to be.
It seems doable. What socialization I get in life tend to happen in the early evenings, so I could do that without much trouble.
Especially now that we’re heading into winter and sunset is coming earlier each day. That’s always seemed like a depressing thing to me before now – the days getting shorter and nights longer.
But now I can see my way to downright enjoying it. After all, it will give me more hours of being awake and active. Just like summer is for non-vampires/
I am willing to give total nocturnality a try. It involves ignoring the voice of “supposed to” and the feeling that I am pulling further way from the rest of humanity, but the potential rewards make this gamble worth it.
It could improve my mood dramatically and vastly reduce the stress on both my body and my mind. And all it takes is accepting that I will sleep through the day.
Heck, if this goes well, I might not even need the sleeping pills any more.
Some things will still have to be done during the day,,,, after all, the rest of the world is day-active. Things like doctor’s appointments, meetings, and other dealing with other human being type things.
But I think I can puil this off.
And if I can, the results could be amazing.
I will talk to you nice people tomorrow.