Friday, 10 June 2011

How to cope with loosing sleep!

I have always had trouble getting up in the morning.  I'm a grumpy, impatient, groggy mess for at least an hour.  That is an hour after I get out of bed, and generally I've been slamming the snooze button for a good 20 minutes before then.... becoming more and more annoyed at that button in the process.

Before I had children I used to be able to sleep until 8.30am and still get to work for 9.30.  I'd then work until 6pm, as I seem to be at my best between 3pm and 6pm.  This pattern was so distinct that my colleagues began to deliberately avoid asking me stuff until late afternoon.  And even though I was going to bed before 11pm and getting over 9 hours of sleep, I still wasn't lively and awake in the morning.

Now I have 2 young children and I never get up in a good way.  I always feel angry at the day for starting before I'm ready for it.  I feel frustrated that the children and my alarm clock wake me up.  And I'm envious of my husband's apparent ease at getting out of bed in the morning happy and fully awake.

I've tried one of those Lumie light clocks.  It's helpful to an extent, making waking up on those dark winter mornings slightly more palatable.  But it has had no effect no effect on my morning mood.  So now I've had enough.  I thought about it; worked out that I wake up slightly less grumpily if I'm woken up whilst dreaming vivid dreams, and I thought I'd make the effort to learn more about sleep and how it works so as to better understand how I can help myself. 

It turns out that we sleep in cycles of about 90-110 minutes, and each cycle contains various stages; drowsy sleep(1), light sleep(2), deep sleep(3&4) and REM sleep, with us working through them in this order; 1,2,3,4,3,2,1,REM for a couple of cycles, and then loosing number 4, then number 3 on the next couple of cycles.  It also turns out that if your alarm clock wakes you up in the middle of your deep sleep you'll feel groggy and unhappy as this isn't the natural point at which to wake.  You actually want to wake up whilst in REM sleep; or whilst you are having those dreams!  Meaning the length of time between falling to sleep at night and waking up in the morning is the important part; not what time it happens to say on the clock when you wake.  Of course the length of the stages and cycles will also vary from person to person.

So going to bed late does indeed throw out the natural rhythms as you will interrupt your sleep with the alarm at a different point to usually.  The time; 6am; may be the same, but your body won't be at the same point.  (read more here)

So I'm going to try going to bed at 10pm, with an aim to be asleep for 10.30pm, 1 cycle would take me to 12.20am, another to 2.10am, another to 4am and the final to 5.50am.  But since 5.50am would be the end of that cycle after a longer period of REM sleep and I'd be about to move back into stage 1, I'll try setting the alarm for 5.40am on the basis that I should be in the middle of REM then.

It seems very early.

I usually try and set the clock for 6.15am and drag myself out of bed at 6.30am.  Today was particularly difficult, but I went to bed early last night and was asleep by 10.30, so was probably back in the stage 1 when the alarm went off.

It all sound a bit complicated, but I'll experiment and let you know how I get on.  Of course, in an ideal world I'll be getting up and exercising....! Hmmm.  Baby steps....

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