Tuesday, January 31, 2023

How Much Sleep?


I woke up this morning after an uninterrupted eight-hours sleep.

That may not impress anyone, but I am grateful. This doesn’t happen very often.

The somnologists, (these are doctors who specialize in sleep disorders and study optimal sleep) tell us we need eight hours and, contrary to common belief, this need does not decrease with age. What does decrease with age, or life stressors, is the actual number of hours real people get to rebuild their bodies and ready their minds for the next day.

Most nights, I manage about six and a half hours. This has become my new normal, and it never feels quite all right. On bad nights, it’s much less.

I function on four hours’ sleep. But at what cost?

When looking over first drafts, I can see where my sleep was markedly decreased. Chapters that contain many more typos or clunky articulation almost always correspond to days that followed poor sleep. Even my once-over read after that day’s work didn’t catch these sagging patches. After all, I did these reads on the same rickety days.

Too little sleep, or fitful sleep, also corresponds to burning myself over the stove and not finding my keys. Honestly, when I reflect on my chronic sleep deprivation in the months of my kids' infanthood, I wonder how I managed to keep them alive.

So, for today, I’m grateful. Wishing y’all a good night’s sleep.


Vijaya said...

Wow, Mirka, you are perpetually sleep-deprived I hope this is just the beginning of your body allowing you to sleep in peace. May the good angels be about you guarding your sleep and soul.

I don't know how I survived the months of sleep deprivation either when the children were babies and nursing throughout the night--I took a lot of naps. This wasn't the case when my mom was ill (I got only 4 hrs of sleep and then promptly fell ill after she died). But now, no clocks in our bedroom, no alarms. I wake up naturally as the sun rises getting about 7-8 hrs of sleep. It's really lovely.

Evelyn said...

Your good night's sleep sounds lovely, dear friend. I'm so glad you were blessed with that. I've not been sleeping well lately--waking up at horrible times like 3:30 or 4:30 and not being able to get back to sleep. Sometimes it's coughing that disturbs my sleep, but sometimes it's just my mind that won't seem to go back into sleep mode.

Mirka Breen said...

Yes, Evelyn. Exactly. It's the mind in those (literally) dark hours that conjures the worry-warts.

Barbara Etlin said...

According to Fitbit I average about 5 restful hours; it deducts time for restlessness. And sometimes I wake up because my knee hurts. I can't/won't go to bed earlier because I refuse to give up my exercise, meditation, and relaxing music time. All of that does help me feel sleepy and I get to sleep quickly.

Sue said...

Yea, for a good night's sleep. I've been sick so slept extra long last night. It felt good after the night's of coughing and restlessness.