A Good Night’s Sleep

I’ve always been a problem sleeper.

My parents despaired of me even as an infant, for I could stay awake half the night and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at six AM. I never fell asleep in the carriage like most babies, and I didn’t even take naps unless I was sick. I was a champion non-sleeper, and the fact that I was using all this extra awake time for learning didn’t seem to impress those around me except perhaps for my sister, who taught me how to read and tell time long before I went to kindergarten.

All of this changed when I was a teenager, however. Suddenly I went from being up with the chickens to a complete slug who was never seen out of bed voluntarily before noon on the weekends. I drank in sleep like thirsty people slurp water when they’ve been exercising in hot weather, and to some extent that’s still true. I am a firm believer in the restorative qualities of sleep, and if I had my druthers I’d sleep a full eight hours a night…..ideally from about 2-10 AM. Failing that, I love nothing better than to snuggle up with Will and the dog on a winter’s afternoon, and doze contentedly in the La-Z-Boy.

Alas, I am old and my zzzz’s are not what they used to be. In fact, a good night’s sleep is quite the elusive little devil, and its absence is felt deeply……especially when I’m on the cusp of a mood episode. There’s no middle ground: I either want to sleep 20 hours a day, or else it’s “who the hell needs sleep? I got things to do and people to annoy!” Not only that, my sleep tends to be fitful now, and I seldom get a full night in without waking up at least once…..and usually a lot more than that.

To say that this plays hell with my moods would be the understatement of the year. What I can’t seem to figure out is whether I get wacky because I’m not sleeping well, or whether I’m not sleeping well because I’m wacky. Either way, disturbed sleep is ALWAYS an indicator that the fecal material is about to collide with the oscillatory ventilation system, and I’m learning that I can’t let it go for more than a couple of nights.

Fortunately, I’ve become more self-aware in recent months, and am less resistive to taking my super-duper anti-crazy pill that doubles as a sleeper. It sure saved my bacon a couple of nights ago, when I was wound up tighter than a spring—again—and decided to quit messing around and take the full dose.

Two days later, I am still quite sane, and I didn’t even take the super-duper anti-crazy pill last night. But I have had a couple of decent nights of shut-eye, and I am one of the most reasonable people you’ll ever meet when I’ve slept well. I’m easygoing, not easily annoyed or argumentative, and I don’t even flip people the bird in traffic. I can even maintain that pleasant demeanor as long as I have a stable sleep pattern. But give me a night or two of broken, unrefreshing, and/or inadequate sleep, and my brain basically shits the bed. (No pun intended.)

Now it’s to bed, perchance to sleep…..and maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll still be a happy camper tomorrow. 🙂




Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

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