Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sleep Deprived

So LabRat is a little grumpy and irritable... and not quite thinking at 100% She's figured out, it's because she's been running on sleep debt for a while.

I know the feeling. I have been running on pretty much constant sleep debt for years.

I don't sleep much. I am just fine with 4-6 hours of sleep a day, and always have been. In fact, if I get more than 8 hours of sleep, I feel groggy and disoriented on waking up.

Unfortunately, I've been a chronic insomniac since I was 5; and even getting 4 hours can be difficult for me.

When I was in high school, it was a lot worse. I went to school, played football, worked, and worked out at least two hours a day, and I still couldn't sleep. I used to go several days without sleeping at all; then I'd collapse, exhausted, and sleep for 12-16 hours; which was still not enough to recover from the sleep deprivation.

The longest time I've gone without sleep is five and a half days; and I was very definitely hallucinating long before the end of that period.

The only time I've ever been able to sleep much was during constant heavy physical activity; where we would be literally physically exhausting ourselves to the point of near collapse every day. There, I got as much sleep as I could (which was never enough).

Thankfully, as I've aged, the insomnia has improved; and now I can consistently sleep at least 2 hours most every night, and usually 4. 2 hours isn't much, but it lets me function the next day; and if I've only had that much sleep, I can usually nap during that day (something I have a real hard time doing unless I'm totally exhausted to the point of collapse), and come up to 3 or 4 hours total.

Sometimes though the insomnia chains 2 hour days together; as many as three or four in a row. When that happens, I'm really a zombie by the last day.

Mel is a completely different story. She needs about 9-10 hours of sleep a night to properly function. She gets up at 6:30 am to get the kids ready for school, and generally wants to go to bed by 10; sometimes by 9. She also often takes naps during the day. I know that if she didn't get at least 8 hours the night before, she'll be looking for a nap at some point.

Worse, if she doesn't get her 9-10 hour total (including naps), she is completely unable to properly function.

I on the other hand get up sometime around 7:30, and generally go to bed between 1 and 2; and she gets upset because I don't want to spend 4 hours in bed doing nothing (with her asleep of course. 4 hours in bed with her not asleep sounds just fine to me) in what is the middle of the evening as far as I'm concerned.

I always tell her, it's not about her, it's about me; I just can't sleep, and I don't want to sit there for four hours not sleeping when I could be doing other things. She counters by saying "I can't sleep right without you there. It doesn't feel right".

In fact, if I'm not there while she's sleeping, she wakes up every hour or so and tries to come get me to come to bed; getting increasingly upset each time.

While I love the fact that my wife wants me next to her when she's sleeping; it gets pretty damn irritating actually. Thankfully, when I am there, she sleeps like she's had 30mg of Restoril; so I end up doing a lot of quiet reading in bed.

So obviously, neither of us has particularly healthy sleeping habits. I don't get enough sleep, and remarkably, even though she sleeps for 2/5 of the day, and 2-3 times as much as I do, apparently neither does she.

I'm not sure which is "better"; being able to function on 2 hours of sleep even though it's slowly destroying your body, or not being able to function at all on less than 8 hours, so at least you aren't pushing yourself into sleep debt.