September 22, 2009

The Sleep Plan

Since we're on the topic of lessons learned in limbo, I think it's time for the next one:

Lesson 3: Get some sleep, stupid.

Please note, the word stupid is meant to be self-deprecating. And it is stupid, the fact that I can't sleep. Because it's not like I'm in bed, staring at the ceiling for hours on end. Nope, when I go to bed, I'm out cold about 30 seconds later.

I just don't go to bed.

I know how my insomnia started. It started with the birth of my gorgeous redhead, two straight years of 2:00 a.m. feedings, and constantly waiting for the next kid-inspired wake-up call. It started with my wonderfully flexible, full-time, work-at-home-in-my-luxurious-bedroom-office lifestyle. When you work in your bedroom, believe me, it's pretty much the last place you go to relax.

Oh, and you know, the whole not-yet-divorced thing? That doesn't help.

But now, honestly, I swear the sleep gods are out to get me. Because I do try to go to bed early. Well, sometimes. But on the nights I actually get IN the bed ... well, you know the drill. One kid is up at midnight with a cold. Another gets up at 3:00 a.m. with a nightmare. Then the powers that be send road crews to the neighborhood and tell them to jackhammer the crap out of our local streets. At 1:43 a.m.

New roads. Yay.

And yes, this all really happened. In one night. Last week, as a matter of fact.

I read recently that insomnia is a learned behavior. I believe it. After four years of sleep deprivation, I believe it. And now it's my intention to unlearn that nasty behavior and kick the ass of my insomnia demons once and for all.

And so, with the help of a few very dear friends who made time to do the sleep-related legwork, I have developed The Sleep Plan. It works like this:

For 8 weeks, I will follow a rigid routine. (Yeah, stop laughing. I know a routine when I see one and dammit, I can follow one.)
  • I will work each day from 8:30 to 5:30.
  • I will go make dinner, play with my kids, drive them hither and yon, bathe them, and put them to bed.
  • Then, if I need to, I work again from 8:30 to 10:30. In my office. Where I'm supposed to be. See, I am realizing that my work can't be portable. It's got to have its own place and time so that, at some point, it does stop so that my brain can shut down and learn to relax.
  • At 10:30, even if I'm not finished, I will turn off the computer. Yes, that's right. Turn it off. So I can't work even if I want to. And so the time sink that is Facebook doesn't drag me under.
  • Then I will take a melatonin. The melatonin part is only for the first two weeks, though. The point is, after all, to do this on my own. Dependency is not part of the plan.
  • I will relax and sit on my sofa and drink something warm and decaffeinated and maybe knit or read and watch something fun. Like Glee. (Watch Glee. It rocks.)
  • At 11:30 I will feed the cats. Then I will go to bed. Whether I want to or not.

The Plan starts tomorrow. And for the next 8 weeks, I'm generally going to ignore the whole family through food thing and blog about sleep. Well, I won't ignore the foody, family bits altogether; it's just not in my nature. But this is important. Long-term sleep loss is starting to affect my health. It's affecting my levels of grump. It's affecting my brain. I don't dream anymore. I miss appointments. I can't remember the names of my own kids (though that may be hereditary).

Really, not so good.

I cannot imagine I am the only person in the blogoverse who doesn't sleep at night - I'll bet there are insomniacs even in the limited bit of the blogoverse that visits here. So if you get the urge, join me. Make your own Plan. Follow along.

We'll have a sleepover when we're done.


  1. Hey it's John from Lucent! Great blog and great posting. It took a few mornings fighting to keep my eyes open while stuck in ATL traffic for me to realize the value of a good night sleep. Sticking to a schedule is a big help. You might consider a nice hot bath before bedtime. Good luck!

    PS. You, "The Diva" and a few other friends have motivated me to dip my toe into the blogging pool. Please check me out if you get a chance, or if you're looking for something to help you sleep!

  2. How's the plan going? We haven't talked in a few days and I knew nothing of this plan, so I'm very curious.

  3. @J - baths are a great option, but I don't have a working tub: the stopper is irretrievably broken. I know, awful, eh? Need to learn some home repair skills! Hey, kudos on the blog - fun little read. Welcome to the 'sphere!

    @BSuze - just posted an update. Not off to what I'd call a great start just yet, tho ... [sigh]