My first thought is to ask how you define “getting enough sleep.”
Now I can say I am in bed for 8 hours almost every night, sometimes a little longer. But I am not sure that qualifies as sleep. Most of my nights are a series of short naps followed by short times awake. This pattern had been changing to longer times asleep but seems to have reinvented itself in the past month.
My nighttime ritual includes:
- Opening the windows slightly and turning on the ceiling fan
- Brushing my teeth
- Washing my face
- Taking my blood pressure medicine (20 mg Benicar)
- Going to the bathroom, if needed
- then I do word puzzles on my I-Pad
- after that, it’s a few rounds of Maj Jong.
- Then it’s lights out
My wife and I have slept with the bedroom windows open in the winter for almost 40 years. With the heater vents closed in the bedroom, the chill makes for excellent sleeping weather. Summer is a different story. We run the A/C and use room darkening curtains to keep the morning sun at bay. But this is mid-February, and the weather is cold, the nights below freezing.
Once the lights are off, the sleeping games begin.
I might get two hours of sleep in the first round, 10:30 PM to 12:30 AM. Waking at 12:30 AM, I peek at the alarm clock and see that it really is just 2 hours since I turned off the light.
READ MORE: Another Sleepless Night
So, I roll over and fall back asleep. This time, I wake up at 1:34 AM.
Often, I will remember the dream I am having when I wake up. I can sometimes continue the same dream over several waking periods. Other times, the dream I wake up with is different. Now it is after 1:30 AM and I try to fall asleep again.
For the past few weeks, I have woken up at 2:30 AM, 3:30 AM, 4:30 AM and then around 5:30 AM.
Then, I sleep for almost 2 hours again before waking up around 7:30 AM. Often, this is where I get out of bed. Sometimes I try to get a little more sleep, but the next two waking periods are 8:30 AM and then 9 AM. I cannot go past that without getting up. I feel guilt for staying in bed that long or even staying in bed past 7 AM.
Melatonin has been suggested, but my limited use has not produced a full night’s rest.
I admit that I have not given melatonin a fair chance. My lack of success in the week that I took melatonin has made the process seem not worth the effort. Plus, what I did get from melatonin was the ability to fall asleep more quickly. This, for me, has not been the problem. Staying asleep has been where I struggle.
I tell myself I will talk to my doctor about this, but the time has not presented itself. Overall, my mental health has been getting stronger and stronger. So I am happy this issue is not changing how I feel during the day.