I Keep Falling Asleep and Waking Up

Yellow_caution automatic_2012-07-30

2015-05-28 – I keep falling asleep and waking up. Yeah, I know you do that too, but I’m not talking about the normal day-night cycle. I’m talking about cycles that are at most 30 seconds long. I might be reading something and my eyes will close and ultimately my head will nod. The nodding startles me and I wake up and go back to reading. I do this because my body doesn’t quite buy into the regular day-night cycle.

At night, I think I basically do the same thing, but horizontally. And I’m not reading at night–but rather wondering why I am not asleep. Except that I do sleep. It’s just that the snippets are very short. They may vary in length, but overall, they are pretty short.

A couple of years ago, I went to a sleep doctor. He ruled out apnea and said that I had a fairly typical pattern of fragmented sleep. I don’t remember what he called it. Maybe I was sleeping (momentarily) when he mentioned the name. He gave me a routine that was meant to consolidate the fragments. It worked a little bit. Well enough that I consider myself cured. By “cured,” I mean that I am not sufficiently motivated to seek further remedies.

Recently, I learned that many members of my family have it. It’s apparently pretty common. Some people say that the normal human sleep-wake cycle doesn’t really include an 8-hour sleep period through the night. It is apparently more normal to sleep a couple of hours and wake up for a while and then sleep again until morning. Some religions actually have rites that can be performed during that midnight wakefulness. My ritual is to trudge to the bathroom and then return to my bed where I lie awake wondering why I am awake.

People ask if I worry or think about work or anything like that when I’m awake. The answer is that worries are not what’s keeping me up. But the time is available. If I have a worry on my mind, I can really obsess about it during this time. The worry can be completely trivial. Maybe it’s a two-minute job and I can worry about it for an hour. So sometimes, I will just get up and do it. Then my mind is clear and I can go back to bed and worry about being awake.

If my boys are home, I could go watch them sleep. They have no trouble. (I had no trouble at that age, either.)

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