Only Child says Sleep Sleep perchance to…just sleep

Pondering sleep and sleep deprivation

When I was a child, when I was a teenager, I slept at nights. Lots of sleep. When I was in my late 40s I would kill to get my sleep – anyone and anything that got in my way risked my wrath. Now in my senior years, I ask “What sleep?” If I am lucky I get  6 hours sleep and that’s counting the half hour or so when I fall asleep during the 11 p.m news on TV. I’m not sleeping in though; I keep to about the same time to get up each day – 7.45 a.m. even on weekends, but with it being gardening season and the light of day coming very early, I would like to get up and into the garden much earlier than I do.

And that might be my cue as to something is off. I’m trying to do too much – evenings, yes I sometime watch some TV, besides the aforementioned news. But not until I do some more gardening, weather permitting and I’m not out somewhere. No matter what, I have way too much to do and often some of that comes to mind after the news and so off I go, despite trying hard to get to bed somewhat earlier than 1.30 a.m. or 2 a.m.

Carrying around in  my mind all the guilt of stuff not done, particularly phone calls to friends I didn’t have time to make, doesn’t help. I don’t have time to call them until the gardening is done, so right now that could be 9.30 p.m. as that’s when it gets dark. If I’m out at an event, forget it. One friend has said to call her but she doesn’t do late evening phone calls as she goes to bed. That was a message on my voice mail when she tried to call me and I was out at an event. Not sure what late means – after 10 p.m.? After 9 p.m.? Unless it is an emergency I don’t call friends or family after 9.45 p.m. Fortunately two of my friends are night owls like me.

Is this another health bane of being a senior? Hey, I’m running out of fingers to count all the medical crap I have to deal with as a senior.

So, I decided to put on the hat of my former profession – journalist – and do some research about sleep deprivation online. Here is some of iowhat I found:

If you go here you will find an interesting article covering many aspects of sleep deprivation, including summarizing some studies, how much sleep is necessary, and the effects of sleep deprivation. I have some of the latter, most notably: irritability (well, more than usual), immune system dysfunction (not good for someone who already has a compromised immune system), forgetfullness (mainly if I did something – although I don’t forget what I have to still do, but often forget where something got put. My mind hits a blank here). Yes, it affects my cognitive abilities and I seem to he slower doing things than my usual  modus operandi. The worse things were sleep depreviation could cause cancer and death.  I know we all got to die sometime but not yet please, and do I really want to drag cancer into it?

And look at my language “drag”.

So, I am now going to  make a bigger effort to get body and mind into bed earlier. Yes, I’ll still watch the news and weather report. But the TV goes off, right after that half hour. And before the 11 p.m. news, maybe even before 10 p.m. all the housework shit I have to do for the evening (gardening is never under that category) has to be done. And any phone calls – if I have time to make them.

I am also purging my “to do” lists of stuff and people who steal my time – some will be just on the back burner until next month; some permanently out the door. I am also learning (slowly) to pace myself with what I do – although I still get upset if something takes way too much longer than expected – no matter what the cause.

Do you have trouble getting enough sleep? Why or Why not?


Time to get more sleep



Only Child Writes


Filed under Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation

3 responses to “Only Child says Sleep Sleep perchance to…just sleep

  1. Rio

    I have a similar problem I haven’t been able to sleep more than six hours in a stretch (unless I was sick) for 30 years. The things that I have found that help are:
    1. not watching t.v. or going on the computer or any device that projects light into the eyes rather than reflects it off a surface at least thirty minutes before bed so I just read a good old fashioned book for half an hour. (The News makes me crazy anyway).
    2. no caffeine after noon and no sugar after six p.m.
    3. when i wake up, even when it is 5:30am I just get up, earlier than that I might just go to the bathroom or have a glass of warm milk . I might do something mildly physical like folding laundry and then going back to bed as soon as I start to yawn. “Boring” is a great sedative.
    I always wake up around 5:30 or 6:00am but I’ve been doing that for so long I am resigned to it. I go to bed early. If I need it, I have a nap, anything from twenty minutes to two hours after lunch.
    I do all my correspondence and writing before I eat breakfast at 8:00am. I am smarter in the morning anyway. I got in the habit of getting up earlywhen I was looking after my mother and knew that once she got up at 8:00am I would be on call for the rest of the day. Now that I am mostly retired I try not to stress about sleep. It is such a common problem for people our age. In general I keep things as simple and enjoyable as possible, I walk, bike or work on the things I can when I can and try not to have too many commitments. When action is possible and preferable I will excert myself in an effort to further what is good. I appauld the youth who are out there fighting the good fight. I did my part already.
    The napping I learned looking after young kids. I think the world would be better if everyone had an afternoon nap. It is so civilized. Try chanting, “This too shall pass”, sometimes it works! 😉

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions. I follow a few of those already and have started having afternoon naps at least on some days – wouldn’t be a good idea if I was meeting with a client . And am trying to prioritize what is important to me when it is important, not what somebody necessarily wants. I think my big problem is I need to not do so much in the late evening and get to bed early. Of course if you. have an emergency like water from a rain storm in the basement that can throw all that off.

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