Sleep

6 Oct

For me, having children solved all my sleep problems.  I used to be a habitual insomniac.  Several nights a week, I’d be wide awake and frustrated.  3am was my nemisis time.  The number of showers I’ve taken at 3am . . . amazing.

But, the amazing sleep deprivation of having two kids under two years of age.  Well, that cured me.  I can fall asleep before I’m back in bed now.  Greg says my breathing will go to “I’m asleep now” breathing in 3 breaths after my head hits the pillow.  It’s a beautiful thing.  (Although, admittedly it’s not the cure for everyone!  🙂 )

Then, I also had a bout of Sleep Apnea.  Not a fun thing.  Oh, I was sleeping but the whole getting oxygen to the brain part . . . not happening.  So, I wore an attractive sleeping mask for a couple of years while at the same time losing 20 lbs.  (It was 30 but I gained weight over the summer and . . . well, you know.)  Thankfully, that was what was causing the Apnea for me so I’m in good shape now for the brain and oxygen thing — which, it turns out, is pretty important.

Being exhausted during the day, though, didn’t seem all that unusual to me after kids who woke up repeatedly all night and then the Sleep Apnea.  Follow that up with becoming a teacher and doing it while going to school for my credential and its easy to understand why I’ve come to expect to sleepwalk through life.

Sometime last year, Greg read an article somewhere about sleep cycles and how all your zombie days would be over if you’d only follow a 90 minute sleep cycle pattern.  I was skeptical to say the least but after he raved about it.  I gave it a try.  Here’s the deal . . . (not, it doesn’t involve sending me any money or investing in a scheme where you pay me and I pay someone and then we all get tons o’ cash in a few months!) . . .

A typical sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes and has 5 stages.  Each of these stages is important.  If you get woken up in the middle of a sleep cycle, your brain is foggy and out-of-sorts and you sleepwalk through the day.  If you sleep until you wake up on your own, your brain is fresher and more alert and you are perky and happy and whistle while you work all day.  Tra la!

So, I wake up at 6am everyday.  The only trick to this is figuring out when to go to bed.  I want to work backwards in increments of 90 minutes.  So, 6am – 90 min = 4:30am; 4:30 am – 90 min = 3am; 3am = 90 min = 1:30 am; 1:30 am – 90 min = Midnight; Midnight – 90 mins = 10:30pm.

My best going to sleep times are 10:30 pm and Midnight.  If you subscribe to this theory, you’d rather stay up until midnight than go to sleep at 11pm.  When that alarm goes off at 6am, you’ll be in the middle of a sleep cycle and you’ll be groggy and miserable.  Much like I am this morning . . . I went to BED at midnight but didn’t fall asleep for about 1/2 hour.  Not wise.  My alarm went off and it was like walking through molasses to reach my alarm and turn it off.

So, if you have trouble with grogginess during the day, take a look at your wake up time and try adjusting your bedtime.  You might find it works nicely.  It’s also another reason to enjoy the weekends . . . you don’t have to do math at bedtime . . . just go to bed and wake up when your body wants to wake up.  That’s what really convinced me.  Left to my own devices, I’d wake up at a multiple of 90 minutes from when I went to sleep.  Pretty cool.  Tonight, 10:30 pm . . . without fail!

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2 Responses to “Sleep”

  1. jayne 6 October, 2008 at 6:02 am #

    Makes perfect sense Liza! Waking during that REM sleep does make for very groggy mornings indeed. I will have to count back and see if I am getting to sleep at the correct time. Thanks for sharing this common sense approach.

  2. robin andrea 6 October, 2008 at 6:26 am #

    I hadn’t thought about sleep this way before, liza. Very interesting. Definitely explains why I feel more rested on some morning and not so much on others, even when I’ve slept the same number of hours on both nights. Very good advice.

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