Today, I’m tired. I shouldn’t be, because I slept a number of hours last night, but I’m feeling icky regardless. Everything is a little fuzzy around the edges. My reactions are slow. My head kind of hurts and I have this not-so-fabulous feeling swirling around. I feel hung over without the fun. Ugh.
When did I finally go to bed last night? Oh yea, almost 4am. But, Em, you’ll say, why in the world are you up so late? I’m not writing my thesis anymore. I’m not researching files for my job. I’m not reorganizing closets (another of my middle of the night obsessions). I’m not even actively insomniac-ish. I was watching crappy TV and playing Bubble Spinner on my laptop. I think I just really don’t know what ‘time for bed’ feels like anymore. I think college ruined my ability to regulate my own sleep schedule naturally.
Let’s face it, I was in college for 187 years (approximately). Most of the time I was an up until 2 or 3am, sleep until 9 or 10am, class at 11am or noon kind of girl. I’ve only had … 2, I think … 8am classes in the history of my college career because I know I won’t go to bed on time which means I won’t hear my alarm which means I’ll miss the hell out of that class anyway … so, noon it is. Add to that my multiple degree programs, writing 3 (yes, really, I know) comprehensive papers (2 thesis, 1 original research … someone should give this girl a PhD already), entire days of late breaking library research, more all-nighters than I can even remember, and enough Starbucks coffee to float the Edmund Fitzgerald and I am a walking circadian nightmare.
Now, you’d think these things would get better the longer I’ve been out of college. Mmmmnope. I have a job full of late nights and early mornings where we regularly write research updates until 3am, sleep until 6am, and hit the road for another 12-14 hours of competitions plus a 3 or 4 hour drive home at the end of the day. It’s nearly inhumane.
But I do it. And I don’t really try that hard when it comes to staying awake. My years of crafting papers at sunrise, working through tired to the second wind, and realizing I can (relatively) easily maintain a solid level of response and mental acuity well into the 36th hour of awakeness make it second nature to not sleep. I don’t think it’s how “regular humans” do business, though, and I given the way I’ve been feeling lately, I think it may be catching up with me.
But, how do I break the habit? I know, you’ll say stop drinking caffeine (and you’ll be kidding, because you certainly don’t want that homocide on your hands …) or go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night or set the alarm a little earlier every day. Sweet, but which of these tips you’re about to give me actually work? Are there any recovering night owls out there who’d like to chime in on the secret to sleeping like normal people? Or, are there any hopeless insomniacs who can help me get rid of this foggy hangover feeling if I maintain the sleep pattern status quo? I’m game either way.
Photo Credit: Jonjonbt96