So, on Tuesday the battery in my van died. It was more than time, we’d been running on the original battery from 2002, and it was better in a city parking lot than off in rural Manitoba somewhere. So it’s all good, even if it did take up a bunch of time I had planned to use differently.
On Wednesday, I went for a walk through the lovely, wintry Assiniboine Park. I was myself pretty well-wrapped, but I neglected to do the same for my iPhone, and it decided to go from 54% to zero in a disconcertingly short time. So much for posting my proud 5K on Facebook – no power, no GPS! Fortunately, the warmth of the building once I returned restored it to health, but my son, who had been trying to get hold of me, had some bad moments until I found him and explained the situation. We are so dependent on technology.
Yesterday, I was at the computer store with my other son, picking up a newly-cleaned computer (ka-ching, ka-ching), when the same son texted me that the battery on his two-year-old laptop had died, and he needed a new one. (More ka-ching – the moral is, buying a cheap laptop will cost you lots of money later in the game).
So, why do these mundane tales of First World Problems add up to something that might be worthy of a blog post? Because, as I mentioned, Berni immediately latched on to my battery woes to suggest a parallel with the way I’ve been treating myself lately. Namely, I’m not getting enough sleep, and my physical batteries are getting pretty run down.
I’m not alone in this – the US Centers for Disease Control called the lack of sleep a public health epidemic. Sleep insufficiency is a major cause of health problems, as well as contributing directly to car crashes and workplace accidents. So what gives? Why am I so sleep deprived?
I don’t have babies anymore. My kids rarely wake me up at night. They certainly don’t wake me early in the morning – I’m generally the one banging on their doors to get them up for school. I wake up between 6 and 6:30 am every day, regardless of how late I went to bed the night before. And therein lies the rub. I go to bed too late.
I know rationally that if I am going to get up at 6:30 am, I should be asleep by 11 pm at the latest the night before if I am going to get a decent (not fabulous) amount of sleep. My husband is very good at this, but I am abysmal. It’s a good night if I’m in bed by midnight, and lately it’s been later. This is killing me, but I can’t seem to stop it.
I’ve recognised that I (and my kids) have an Internet problem, so my router is set to go off at 10:30 pm on school nights. That should give me enough time to get ready for bed, right?
Well, it would if I didn’t then get started on making lunches for the next day, listening to podcasts, reading email on my phone and generally futsing around until it’s midnight, again. It means that I find myself getting into sugary things that are bad for me, and if there aren’t any, I’ll find something – honey, raisins, anything sweet. I know exactly what is causing this behaviour, and I find I can’t stop it.
The first step towards fixing a problem is to acknowledge it. I’ve done that many times, and I’m doing it again. But I’m no closer to fixing it. I now see signs of the same behaviour in my daughter, who needs the sleep even more than I do. She is at least the third link in a chain of female sleep disorders – my mother was a notoriously bad sleeper, and I’m sure it contributed to her myriad health issues. My sons seem somewhat better at self-regulation, within the bounds of the normal teenager nocturnal cycle. In other words, they will sleep during the day if they get the chance. My daughter, like me, gets up whether she got enough sleep or not.
This is really a problem now, when I see my daughter emulating my dysfunctional behaviour. Maybe if I won’t fix it for myself, I’ll fix it for her. Although, chasing her into bed and then going back downstairs myself is a new wrinkle, a new road past the valley of good intentions.
I know for a fact, CDC aside, that I am not alone in this problem. Can you help me? What do you do to get yourself to bed on time? Please share, either in the comments or privately, so we can all get better at tackling this sleep deprivation monster. We all deserve to be running on fully charged batteries.