For as long as I can remember, I've had trouble falling asleep. Not staying asleep (that's a more recent problem, and yes the CPAP is helping with that), but getting to sleep. Although no amount of coffee or sugar necessarily gave me trouble when I wanted to take a nap. Which was (and is) often.
And all my life people have tried to convince me that I wouldn't have so much trouble falling asleep at night if I didn't take naps in the afternoon. And I bought it.
Except in grad school, which for various reasons was easy to manage a diurnal, not to say crepuscular, kind of schedule, when it became clear, admittedly with the increase in caffeine intake, to simply admit that sleeping when I could was easier than trying to sleep only when I should.
But then when I wasn't a student anymore, the old guilt came back, and I tried to convince myself that it was the caffeine and 'sleep hygeine'.
I'm here to say it's all a load of crap.
Take tonight for instance. I fought, and I mean fought, to stay awake this afternoon. I even went for a lie down but felt so guilty about it that I forced myself up. I couldn't get any work done because I couldn't see straight enough to read anything, let alone write much. The day, and the evening, was a total waste of time and effort.
So about 7:30 pm I decided that if I made it to about 9, I could go to bed without guilt. Of course I didn't. I made it until about 10:30 before I actually made it to bed. And I finished a crossword puzzle and turned out the light and tried to go to sleep.
And nothing happened.
I did deep breathing. I told myself a long boring story. I practiced (or tried to practice) śavāsana (corpse pose) which is actually quite relaxing in the that you have to force yourself to lie still, breathe regularly and clear your mind.
Nothing. No yawning, no drifting, no sleep.
It's now after 2am, and I'm completely knackered. I can barely keep my eyes open. I feel logy and sluggish. But do I feel sleepy? Not in the least. Do I feel that a nice relaxing lie down would do me any good? I do not.
I feel like I used to feel after an earthquake. Not exactly nervous, or jittery, but with enough adrenaline pumping that sleep is simply not an option.
I recognize this feeling. It's probably part of the depression/anxiety thing, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to cope with. I will probably finally drift off about 5am, and if I'm lucky I'll wake up before noon. I will get up, have some 'brunch' some coffee and try to start my day, but by about 3pm, I'll need a nap. And if I take a nap, I won't be able to get to sleep tomorrow night. But, as I know, if I don't take a nap, i won't be able to sleep anyway. So I vote for the nap. I vote for the nap I should have taken this afternoon, when I really, really wanted to.
I'm now at war with myself. THe "sleep when you can" voice is whispering to me over my left shoulder. The "sleep when you should" voice is whispering to me over my right. I know I should sleep when I should. I've done the research. I've been through the therapy. I should go to bed at a regular time, with a relaxing ritual involving putting the day away, artificially raising my body temperature, and going to sleep in a cool, dark, quiety room. I should get up at a regular time, every day.
But I never have, and I don't expect I ever will. Unless that time is 10am, and the regular going to sleep time is 4am, and there's a 3-hour nap in the afternoon. And Life won't accept that schedule, so I'm stuck.