a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Dec, 2004

A bit about sleep

Posted by andrea in: Misc. life

I read an article in Canadian Living a while ago about a woman’s battle with insomnia. She was exhausted all the time, but just couldn’t sleep. A battery of testing at a special clinic revealed that she was actually spending too much time in bed. She was one of those individuals who only required a mere six hours a night, but all this time she had been trying for eight. No wonder she was tossing and turning for two hours a night.

I have no sleep problems whatsoever. If I’m tired enough I can fall asleep practically anywhere allowable by law … but I refrain from doing so when I am behind the wheel, cooking dinner or eating in a restaurant. Why, just last week I fell asleep in the bathtub.

In a former workplace I’d get sleepy around the same time every day. The fatigue would hit me like a wave around 3:00. I didn’t even have to wear a watch, that’s how regular it was. I couldn’t help it, my clock would just stop, no, not just stop, but shut down entirely. I can’t remember if I was pregnant at the time (because that would certainly explain it) but I do remember being so tired I ceased to function like a normal human being. Heaven forbid someone schedule a meeting at that time of day. I probably wasn’t able to string sentences together.

So I’d take a nap. I was able to sleep sitting upright in my chair. My back was to pedestrian traffic, so I’d pretend that I was staring at my monitor, decoding a particularly violent patch of HTML. In case of capture I was also prepared to say that I was deep in prayer. What could they say to that? Stop praying!? Get to work!!

If I was really tired I would drop my head in my hands, or escape to my car and lay back in the seat, hoping that I would wake up at a decent hour and not get caught. During those times it was hard not to fall asleep while sitting on the toilet.

When I worked my retail job I’d sometimes fall asleep on a pile of overstock – sweaters, hoodies and the like. There was also the time I fell asleep on the mall’s rooftop garden and awoke to find, um, someone, um, well, yanking his pickle from afar. Ick. Never did that again.

(The security guard to whom I reported the situation asked me for any identifying features so they could apprehend the pervert i.e. “Was he right or left-handed?” Har har Mr. Security. You are soooo funny. )

I really need my 8 hours sleep and I don’t need a sleep clinic to tell me that. When the girls were infants requiring 24-hour care, the lack of sleep absolutely destroyed me. At the best of times I was a walking zombie, at the worst of times, well, let’s just saying my brain is still recovering from the loss.

For some reason the 2:00 am feedings didn’t affect me as much as the 4:30-5:30 feedings. Perhaps it’s because it’s morning, but not quite time to get up. And let’s face it, it’s not just a feeding. There’s a diaper change too. Thankfully there were no diaper pins involved in this procedure, but I can’t begin to estimate how many diapers I put on backwards while my bleary eyes tried to focus in dim light. After the diaper there’s the feeding and the burping and always a spitting up, which more times than not ended up missing the spit-up blankie and sneaking down my back. I smelled like sour milk for months. What a mess. Thanks M, for putting up with me!

The girls are older now. I got my eight hours back a long time ago. I am very pleased this phase is over, but I can’t help but wish that I was one of those people who could get by on six hours or less. Thomas Edison apparently needed only four, and look what that extra thinking time brought him!

Found this online: “One co-worker said of Edison that ‘His genius for sleep equaled his genius for invention. He could go to sleep anywhere, any time on anything.’ Always a night bird, Edison would often start work at nightfall, break for ‘lunch’ at midnight, and then go until daybreak. Because Edison believed that changing clothes was bad for creativity, he often slept fully clothed. His wife Mary was so irritated by this habit that she often encouraged him to sleep elsewhere.”

I’m waiting for my inner genius to kick in. Or maybe I should stop changing my clothes?

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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