Here it is, Monday again. It’s 2:30 and I have less than an hour until I pick up my son from school and I haven’t got around to the to-do-list I had ready for today! Typical Monday Madness. The day goes by too quickly and I don’t get nearly as much accomplished as I would have hoped.
Monday was never my favorite day of the week. In fact there’s only one day of the week I like less than Monday and that’s Wednesday Hump Day. As a child, I had a full-time job in addition to school. (Yes, I said child. I started working full-time around the age of 8.) I had such an intense dread of Mondays that I couldn’t quite enjoy Sundays because I knew my time to relax was almost over. Like a sleepless night, dreading the first rays of sunlight that slip through the curtains disturbing the restful cloak of darkness.
I was already an insomniac at age 9. My typical night sleep was just 4 hours. I would get home around 10 pm, and read (or occasionally I’d actually finish my homework) until I could no longer fight back the urge to sleep sometime after 1 am. Then I’d be back awake before 5:30 am when my alarm clock went off. I’d wake my mom up for work. She had her hands full as a single mom and an entrepreneur. The pet shop left no shortage of work to be done. 365 days a year those pets wanted to eat and drink fresh water. Imagine that!
My work was my passion, and it still is. I can’t imagine having it any other way.
Oh man, my alarm just went off. I guess I should change out of my pajamas (well-loved sweats) and get dressed to go pick up my son from school. The fun is about to begin! Multi-tasking special needs, special diets, and my passion for writing can be quite chaotic. Bear with me.
Before I forget, lack of sleep in childhood could just be related for my alternate Monday feature – Manic Monday. “It’s just another manic Monday. I wish it were Sunday. That’s my fun day. My I don’t have to run day…” Ok I admit, I’m calling it Monday Madness because my manic moods aren’t exclusively reserved for Mondays. So this Monday’s Featured Topic is Sleep Deprivation. It seems fitting since the hustle and bustle of the Easter Holiday ran straight into going back to school today. Most years our Spring Break would begin with a half-day on Good Friday and end the 2nd Monday after Easter.
I’m not sure whose idea it was to go back to school the day after the 2nd most important cultural and/or religious holiday here in the states. To me the idea is much like going back to school the day after Christmas. Worse even. Spring has sprung and the natives are getting restless. When I say the natives, somehow in my mind I’m always including myself in that colloquialism. Who wants to work when it’s warm and sunny outside after an especially long and cold winter here in the Northeast?
But sleep is an essential to good mental health and well-being. If it were up to me there would be 36 hours in a day, since my natural rhythm seems in tune to extended hours. I can hear it now. You’re asking, “Is she crazy?” Well, that’s debatable. One thing we can likely agree on is that no matter how many hours there are in a day, there are days that are too short and days that are too long.
In all honesty, I hadn’t given much thought to my sleep habits until my step-father committed suicide last June. He was an insomniac to the core, and I believe it ultimately led to his demise. In the past I saw no harm in emulating his sleep habits. Everything is different now. One of our last conversations was about why he did not want to take anti-depressant medication. He said the medication made him sleep all day and waste his life away. In retrospect sleep would have been a beautiful alternative to the grisly reality we faced in the wake of his suicide.
I gave it a full fledged effort, to convince him there was nothing wrong with taking medication for depression if he needed it. No one would argue that a diabetic shouldn’t take their insulin. Mental illness is a real illness. Not a fake or imagined illness as stigma would have us believe. Mental illness is often triggered by some type of trauma – not so unlike ordinary illness after all.
I was fascinated with abnormal psychology in college. Maybe I should have pursued a career in counseling and not dental assisting, I’m sure I’d be a better fit with the crazies than I am with the pretty smiles. Life is full of “what if’s” and “if I had only…” It’s part of what makes us human – believe it or not. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow has enough worries of its own. I’m sure not one of us is exempt from sleepless nights and what if’s at some point in our lives.
My fascination with religion and philosophy tells me that in many great religious traditions, there are teachings about doubts. This is where faith comes in. Jesus sweat blood in agony as he prayed in the garden. Moses had a speech impediment, yet millions of people around the world know him as a public speaker and the man who gave the 10 commandments to the people of Israel. The prophet Muhammad’s first reaction to the revelation was doubt, fear, and shock. What does that say for us? It tells me that none of us are exempt from these negative emotions and that what matters most is how we use the negative to strengthen our character, our resolve, and even our faith.
Here are a few suggestions for developing good sleep habits: (If you have any sleep issues, you really should follow this link to a great article!)
tip 1: Keep a regular sleep schedule
tip 2: Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle
tip 3: Create a relaxing bedtime routine
my personal favorite: Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex
tip 4: Eat right and get regular exercise
If you’re hungry at bedtime
For some people, a light snack before bed can help promote sleep. When you pair tryptophan-containing foods with carbohydrates, it may help calm the brain and allow you to sleep better. For others, eating before bed can lead to indigestion and make sleeping more difficult. Experiment with your food habits to determine your optimum evening meals and snacks.
tip 5: Get anxiety and stress in check
tip 6: Ways to get back to sleep
Postpone worrying and brainstorming.
If you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when you are fresh and it will be easier to resolve.
tip 7: Cope with shift work sleep disorder
tip 8: Know when to see a sleep doctor
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Daydream by Zombie–Fairy – CC BY-SA 3.0
To Do List Chalkboard – by Mufidah Kassalias – CC BY-ND 2.0
Insomnia… – CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Daydream by Benjamin Ragheb – CC BY-SA 2.0
Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept… by Liana Seneca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.