Archives for posts with tag: sleep disturbances

I’m awake. It’s 1:37 am.

I’m not awake for some wonderfully cool reason, like a late night out with friends, or not yet home from a concert, or anything like that. I’d intended to be sleeping, and until some moments ago, I was.

I woke abruptly from a deep sleep, heart pounding hard and beating very fast. I felt short of breath, and fearful. Panicked. The world was quiet, so I could pretty safely assume whatever woke me was internal, rather than external. I didn’t struggle to find a solution to my racing heart and gasping breath; I immediately, gently, eased myself into a very comfortable relaxed position, and began slowing and deepening my breathing, and soothing my consciousness; there was nothing obvious to be so frightened about. I started letting that go, first, with firm reminders to remain in the moment, there in the darkness of a space that, after 4 months, finally feels more or less familiar, most of the time. I turned on a light. I sat up. I continued to support myself with soothing practices. I got up and took an antacid for my very acid stomach and quietly cursed my acid reflux. I got a glass of water and added some Calm to that.

Over the next few minutes, sitting down to write a few words, using even that to help me “sort myself out” in the quiet hours of night, I sip on my glass of water, and feel the chill of the room start to play a part, too, cooling me down.

It’s been a long long time since I let myself make any effort to “figure out” a waking moment like that one. I just don’t do it any more. It’s like digging at a scab, just barely gratifying at all, and definitely not actually helpful, just very compelling. So, I don’t. Because doing so wasn’t useful in a positive way, and it tended only to mire me in a whole assortment of shitty crap loitering in the dark corners of my consciousness waiting for a chance to be weaponized and turned inward. So… I don’t know what woke me. I don’t know why I woke so frightened and overwhelmed. I don’t know what the anxiety was about. I have made knowing such things not a priority of any sort. And… since I’m not “picking at that sore”, the fear and anxiety are already dissipating. With practice, not hours – minutes. It is 1:51 am. I may actually get back to sleep at some point, soon. 🙂

I’m still feeling restless and weird. So, some yoga next. Just postures that promote relaxation and calm. I keep the lights dim. Each small practice picked up along the way has value right now. One by one, I step through the most relevant practices I have learned over time, and I feel myself begin to calm, to become relaxed, to settle down through and through. I’m okay, right now. It’s enough.

I think I’ve mostly come to terms with the likelihood that some portion of my symptoms of PTSD may linger for the remainder of my life time… I sure feel more able to deal with them, generally. Even two years ago, a night like this might have evolved into something more serious, lasting days, destroying my sleep, eroding my judgment, damaging my relationships… this seems better, not perfect. There is no “perfect”. I’m not “cured” – but I am far better at caring for myself in such moments. That’s something pretty wonderful.

I finish my water. Run this post through spellcheck. Then, head back to bed. 🙂

 

I woke abruptly, disoriented in the darkness, and suddenly aware that today is Friday, one more work day left this week, and the icy certainty I had shut off my alarm and gone back to sleep, oversleeping some portion of the work day, gripped me fiercely. I took a deep relaxing breathe, then another, and let myself wake enough to look at the time through bleary eyes. It was hard to process what I saw. It said… 11:23… pm. Wait… 11:23? How is it not daylight? P.m? Did I sleep through the entire day and beyond? That wasn’t making sense for minutes. Then I understood. Just a sleep disturbance. I went back to sleep relieved not to have shot out of bed as if fired from a cannon to careen around the room pulling on clothes clumsily in my haste to exit the building. (I have so been there!)

I used to have those weird ‘lost in time’ dreams not-quite-a-lot-more-often-than-rarely. If I were sharing the night with someone else, their sleep would be ruined, too, because in my panic I would usually be verbalizing my stress and anxiety – and I had serious baggage around “time”, in general, back then. A panicked shrieking freak out over having ‘overslept’ a work shift, or an appointment time, that resulted in me being both entirely irrational and completely inconsolable until I recognized my mistake about the time would ensue, guaranteeing no one could feel calm enough to return to sleep with ease. Last night was different; I never even got up, and returned to sleep. Granted, my sleep last night was restless and disturbed, but I did sleep, and I do feel sufficiently rested.

I’m glad it’s Friday, though. I’m clearly ready for the weekend. lol

Practicing calm, renders me calmer over time, less reactive. I like it. It’s a change for the better. I enjoy the recollection of my disturbed sleep as if it were a good report card.

The view from the office.

The view from the office. Perspective matters; it looks very different in the picture than it does when I am just looking at it.

I spend more time than usual meditating this morning. It’s a lovely quiet morning for it, the rain quietly continuing to fall outside these walls, beyond these windows. I recall the rain shower that drenched me last night, soaking me, and leaving me to step through puddles in sodden jeans the rest of the way, happy to have waterproofed my winter coat – because it too was quite soaked, in spite of that. I smile with amusement at being taken by surprise by the sudden down pour; I’d been watching them pass through town all day through the big windows in the office. I am fortunate that I enjoy rain. However much I do enjoy rain, though, I was glad to arrive home to a hot shower and dry clothes.

The view as I headed for home.

The view as I headed for home.

The morning commute had been so different from the drenching soaking aggressively windy rain storm that took me by surprise on the way home. I had strolled in through the peculiarly mild weather, hood back, hair loose in the breeze, feeling the misty rain on my face with a big delighted grin that lasted the entire 1.97 mile walk across town to the office. I felt free and whole and eager to embrace the entirety of life’s experience, looking at the world through rain-spattered glasses. I know, I know – not especially “grown up”… on the other hand, how silly would it be to arrive at death’s door regretting things like not feeling the rain on my face, or the wind in my hair? I will certainly have my regrets in life, but I’m doing what I can to embrace and enjoy the simple pleasures, so easily within reach. I’m still routinely taken by surprise how much they matter.

The view through a misty morning rain.

The view through a misty morning rain.

I think about my Traveling Partner. I’m hoping to see him tonight, this weekend, dinner on Valentine’s Day, after work. I take a moment to appreciate being so well-loved. I think about his eyes, his smile, how much he cares for me… I think about how delightful it will be to have a little place of my own, and to enlist his help on projects to make it more mine, more livable, more a home than a house. Daydreaming about love, smiling, sipping my coffee.

Today is a good day to be fully where I am in life. If it isn’t where I want to be, it is nonetheless where I must start to go somewhere different. If it is somewhere I enjoy, then I’d be foolish not to enjoy the moment. I am okay right now, and that’s enough. 🙂

Getting sufficient healthy rest remains an ongoing challenge for me. The connection between PTSD and sleep disturbances is well-documented, and most definitely part of my own experience. I’ve at least gotten to a point where being wakeful doesn’t cause me additional separate stress of its own to compound the stress of whatever woke me, or the impending potential stress of the fatigue that results from inadequate rest. Progress.

Last night I was awakened from a deep sound sleep sometime after 2 am. I didn’t bother to check the clock to verify it, my traveling partner told me the time when he woke me (not realizing the noisy new neighbors who woke him hadn’t yet woken me). I was awake, physically comfortable but sleepless, for the rest of the night. “Sleep maintenance insomnia” is what that one is. I feel a moment of irritation when I notice that the article I linked manages to ‘place blame’ for poor sleep almost entirely on the sleeper, pointing out problem scenarios like women trying to get more/better sleep by going to bed ‘too early’ and waking in the wee hours. Yes, good sleep hygiene and good sleep practices are important, and for some of us the thing goes a bit beyond our choice of sleep schedule, lighting, diet, or time management! LOL Nothing in the article directly addresses real-life externals like noisy neighbors, and the effect of being awakened in the wee hours to the irritation of someone else awakened by the noise. (Eventually, the noise would no doubt have awakened me in turn; it sounded rather as if they were tossing shipping crates against the shared wall at several points, or hosting an event in an octagon ring!) My sensitivity to, and concern over, my partner’s ability to get the rest he needs, himself, likely drove my sleeplessness in some small way. It doesn’t actually take much to disrupt my sleep, even now.

Two nights short on sleep so far this week. It isn’t ideal, and I don’t do my best work – or my best anything, really – when I am distracted and numbed by fatigue. I think ahead irritably to the boundary setting, expectation setting conversation that needs to happen later today. My neighbors are young, and on meeting them the other day they seemed well-intended sorts. It’s likely that the inconsiderate amount of noise is nothing more than that – inconsiderate. They may be unaware how noisy they are – although surely less so after my traveling partner was gruff with them during the night. Still, it mustn’t be allowed to pass unnoticed; what we tolerate, we must endure, and I’d honestly rather not have this go on for weeks. My thoughts turn next to the work day ahead. Yeah. Still feeling irritated. Is it going to be that day?

It's too early to be cross already. It is a better choice to begin again.

It’s too early to be cross already. It is a better choice to begin again.

I begin again. Meditation. Deep cleansing breaths. A moment of fresh air out on the patio before dawn, steaming mug of coffee in my hands. Full moon glowing beneath, between, behind the passing clouds for some little while longer before daybreak comes. I think about the patio roses and how lovely they look so far. I contemplate what the patio will look like when the roses are blooming. The studio feels cozy and warm after the morning chill outside. I take time to appreciate the full measure of the quality of my life here; there is so much more to it than a night or two of poor quality sleep. I make a point of lingering over ‘all the things that work’ – it’s a better way to begin my day than fussing about a handful of things that could be improved upon.

Today will be a very good day to take care of this fragile vessel, practicing the practices that support emotional balance, and over-all wellness. I will do my best. 🙂

Sleeping and dreaming are two of my favorite things. Seems a bit odd considering the challenges with insomnia, sleep disturbances, and nightmares, perhaps it is because of those things that I enjoy sleeping and dreaming so much. I enjoy and appreciate them greatly, and definitely have experience with some of the less pleasant, less restful, and less satisfying options sleep has to offer.

I did not sleep well last night. I don’t recall my dreams. I had no nightmares, and did not spend the time restlessly – I just mostly wasn’t sleeping. I managed more than 4 hours of sleep, though, and one period of unbroken sleep that lasted nearly 3 hours. Not too long ago, a night like last night would have been spent out of bed, awake, perhaps writing moodily whatever stray thought crossed my mind in the twilight of minimal artificial light. I would have, potentially, become more cross and frustrated – and anxious – as the night passed. I was sleepy and tired last night, just not able to fall asleep, or stay asleep, so I stayed in bed, relaxed and comfortable, meditating through periods of wakefulness until I felt sleep begin to return. I am decently well-rested, though not ideally so, and I am in a mostly pretty pleasant mood, although I am in a lot of pain with my arthritis.

There is a connection between quality of sleep, and my experience of pain. Pain seems more than usually painful when I am not well-rested.

I yawn, and stretch, do some yoga – slowly and with great deliberation. I am stiff, and seemingly unreasonably so, but I’m not really surprised by it, just annoyed. I accept the feeling of annoyance as a warning that I may not have the emotional resilience I expect to, today; the moment of kindness turned inward eases the annoyance, but not the pain. My medication will kick in slowly, over the next hour; I count on the yoga for as much relief, and it generally delivers.

Sipping coffee, dreaming of love, and thinking of home.

Sipping coffee, dreaming of love, and thinking of home.

It is a quiet Friday morning. I enjoy quiet mornings greatly. This one I spend gently, considerate of my needs and my lack of sleep. I take time to contemplate the sensation of ‘going home’ – and getting there – and what I might enjoy seeing and experiencing as I step into a space that feels like ‘home’ for me. For the purpose of this moment of contemplation (daydreaming?) I accept the assumption that my emotional experience of ‘feeling homeless’ is not driven by externals, that it is simply a stray sensation I am stuck on that can be changed by moving in the direction of things that feel differently for me, with practice. This opens the door to considering what does feel like ‘home’ to me? (My traveling partner is correct that my linguistic and grammatical tendency to phrase thoughts ‘in the negative’ supports negative thinking and experiences more effectively than it can support positive ones; I work on changing my implicit biases with a number of practices like this one.) Beginning with the assumption that I can improve on this experience, I allow myself to ‘think through’ a variety of ‘arriving at home’ moments, letting my imagination fill in gaps and create little details that catch my attention and point my awareness in the direction of what sorts of things really do feel like home – for me. I have changed over the years, and my taste has as well.

This morning, I ‘come home’ in my imagination to a very orderly place that feels spacious, but is quite compact. The space is ‘filled with light’; windows that bring in the natural light of morning, or afternoon is especially lovely. The decor is organized around function, and in favor of being able to create in the same space in which I live; finished art on the walls, beautifully arranged with adequate white space, easel and brushes neatly ready on a whim, and unashamedly out in the open. The art would be selected to take advantage of the light, and also ‘where I’m at’ in life now; lighter, brighter, more glow, less darkness, sensuous textures, positive meanings. Decor in neutral earth tones in light shades and pale wood case goods would direct my eye back to the color; art, objects, beautiful porcelain tea cups, books – always so many books! In a place that feels to me like ‘home’, all my lovely breakables would be on display – and in use. I would live gently in a ‘cruelty free zone’, treating myself with compassion, kindness, and care (I have been too hard on myself for far too long). The environment would feel quiet, and stillness would be available – even plentiful – and would be ‘inspiring’ to live in. The dining table would be set, beautifully, simply for the loveliness of it, in between meals. The kitchen and pantry would be arranged to suit my needs and cooking style, and would take into account my injury and my arthritis – putting things I commonly need in easiest reach, and maintaining a ‘logical sense’ that perhaps only makes sense to me, but does so in an intuitive way, changing only to improve on that. This is unmistakably a ‘selfish’ perspective; there is no reason to hold out on myself in my own daydream, and the point of the exercise has nothing whatever to do with how I treat others, or building a lovely home in a shared experience. This one is for me, about me… it is me, communicating my needs to myself with greater clarity than I otherwise might, and hoping to improve on my day-to-day experience along the way, just benefiting from knowing myself and my needs a little better.

More often than not, when I feel ‘home sick’ or yearning to ‘go home’, it is desire for a safe place that feels like my own, filled with order, stillness, sufficiency, and contentment…the other details are simply a way to get there.

...And a wee garden would be lovely, too.

…And a wee garden would be lovely, too.

Today is a good morning to consider going home. Today is a good day to consider what that means to me. Today is a good day to be my own best friend, compassionately listening, offering encouragement and support, and celebrating growth. Today is a good day to enjoy change.

This is a lovely gentle moment. Last evening was also very nice. In between these moments, ideally, would be several hours of sleep. I am content with the handful of hours of sleep I got, and a couple more of rest and meditation, and I woke to my alarm feeling comfortable. My arthritis is felt as a distant thing, this morning, managed and of no real consequence. My coffee is very welcome. My jeans, a size smaller than I’ve been wearing, feel comfortable, relaxed, and soft against my skin, like very old broken in favorite jeans – a very nice way for a new pair of jeans to feel. There is a lot to smile about, this morning (and even most mornings).

I will take today as it comes, practicing good practices, shoring up practices that I know work that I may not be fully committed to, practicing not practicing practices that don’t work as well…and treating others well.

One spring moment of many, with all the possibility and potential of any new moment.

One spring moment of many, with all the possibility and potential of any new moment.

This is a lovely moment. Many of them are, actually, even in the face of my own chaos and damage; so often it is embracing the fundamental loveliness of some ‘now’ moment or another that calms my storms, and helps me ‘find my way home’ to a gentler heart. A few deep breaths, a moment or two of real stillness, the solitude to find calm; these are so essential to maintaining balance and building resilience. Learning to allow myself to meet those needs has been challenging, and totally worth the time and effort to learn, and to practice.

However loving the lover, however caring the caregiver, however tender the heart of someone who wants to support me, first and perhaps of greatest importance has been learning to love and care for myself, my own heart, my own life – and not because there’s no one else out there, or because others cannot be relied upon, or because the world is in any way ‘unworthy’ – but because it is my own ability, and will, to care for myself well that shows everyone else ways to love and care for me, too. Besides, who else would be a better fit as ‘lifelong super best friend’ for me than me?

Does it seem odd to bother with writing such a simple post, on such a slim bit of an idea? I find that some of life’s best bits are painted across my experience with a very delicate brush – it’s not all drama, big deals, or epiphanies. Some of the stuff that has mattered most to me is pretty simple, basic, every day living. I’m okay with that; simple is easier to practice. 🙂

Today feels full of possibilities. Today is a good day to embrace the moment with wonder and enthusiasm. Today is a good day to connect, and to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Today is a good day to change the world.