Category Archives: Memory loss

Only Child says overwhelm causes forgetfulness

The look of Only Child in overwhelm

For just over a week I lived in overwhelm. I knew I had too much on my plate and started a “program” featuring the three D’s – do, delay and dump. The idea was to decide what was  most important in my life, what wasn’t important, and what was stealing my time. And as I found out stealing my mind. The number of items that disappeared in my personal black hole increased. Some have surfaced; some have not. It reminds me a bit of when my mother, when in her late 50’s she took bacon instead of steak out of the freezer for our supper. I, then in my late teens discovered the mistake long before the meat had thawed. Not exactly losing or misplacing items, but close.

My mother was having a hard time dealing with living life without my dad who had died a few years earlier and her escalating arthritis. So she had loss, grief and health. Money was not an issue

My misplaced items signify more and some are different. For example, I wanted to wear a specific sleeveless black T-shirt which I had owned for many years. But I couldn’t find where it should be or where it shouldn’t be and I looked several times both in artificiahav


Yet I was 99 per cent sure I hadn’t at any time put it in the used clothing for the Diabetes Association bag. Ever.

Something strange was going on here.

It wasn’t until I returned home after a shopping expedition to buy a replacement T-shirt ( and didn’t find anything suitable) that I found the missing T-shirt. I was still furious about it being yet another item gone missing that I meticulously checked all the places again. And I found it in one of the places where it should be, i.e., the drawer where I put items that I’ve worn once or twice but they still don’t need to be washed.

I’m sure all the fuss about finding that T-shirt has something to do with wearing something I am familiar with, especially when you consider the chaotic unpredictable world we live in.

A few other items still remain lost in inner space. One is corn cushions for the soles of my “bad” feet. I know I bought two packages at the Rexall store – two because that is the only drugstore that seems to carry the padded ones and I don’t live close to a Rexall Drug Store. I paid for two and I know that the two packages came home and that I put them in the drawer where I keep all my bad feet paraphernalia. That burns up more than my feet because it costs me, as does all the health crap I have to buy or get done for my health. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

The funniest one is when my son was helping me remotely with transferring library books in e-pub once downloaded from my computer to my Kobo. Yes, I had the Kobo all right. But I couldn’t find the short cable that connects the Kobo to my computer. I told my son that I had the charger (I finally ordered one that you can plug in your Kobo to recharge it without turning on your computer) and the cable in it, but couldn’t find the cable for the Kobo to connect it to the computer. All this while I was frantically checking through desk drawers.

“That is the cable,” my son said. At least he didn’t laugh.

I knew the cause right away for forgetting that the charger did not come with a cable.

All the while my son and I were doing the computer remote fixing, I felt like I was coasting – almost like my voice, my body and my mind were separated.

And that is the way I had been feeling for a week and a half before trying to get too many things done to meet too many deadlines, and deal with weather and possible water in the basement and one of my many health issues acting up.

Immediately after Martin and I got off the phone I started to tidy up some of my office – my desktop and the few files needed to be put away.

That only brought on more forgetfulness, misplacement of items, and anger and frustration. I couldn’t seem to find the bills I knew I had paid at the beginning of the month. Finally found them in my Problems to be Solved folder. They  weren’t the problem – they had been paid. But I discovered in my bills to be paid was an unpaid phone and Internet bill for this month.

I am never late paying that bill but the utility company moving the date due up five days didn’t help with my memory.

The problem was twofold – I had too much on my plate to do so didn’t do some of the things I regularly do – i.e. keep a budget up to date including keeping track of bills that need to be paid and paying them on time. Of course I paid the bill online right away and through my account let the utility know I had just paid it and where, so I have a numbered receipt now.

But when I did that and when I looked at my now tidy corner of the office where I work, I felt better.

Next day, which was yesterday – Monday, I still started out sluggish and feeling overwhelmed. But I was determined to plow through as much of my “to do” list for the day as I could. When I did and saw what I had accomplished, I felt even better.

Maybe taking the time to do some gardening and going for a short walk had something to do with it.

But there are still things to rein in – like email. I have to get off some of these meet-up things I’ll never go to and some of the writing groups and other interest-related stuff that just takes up my time. I need to delete some of what I do (and one I thought I had came back today and I have to deal with it. This is one where the people in charge weren’t clear about what had to be done and I’m not the only one confused here).

And then there is all the crap I have to do for my health and when I have to do it. Yes, I’m reining in that too. Doing what I have to but where I can, when I can. Not dropping everything else to spend a lot of time doing this and that. If I forget to do something for my health once, so be it.

It is like I told my friend Maggie when I finally had time to call her early Sunday evening. “I don’t even have time to call my friends.” Now, that’s sad and unacceptable.

So is not getting enough sleep at night. But the last two nights I’ve had no problem falling asleep. It’s just that I wake up two to three hours before the alarm goes off and have trouble getting  back to sleep. Or don’t get back to sleep.

The weird thing is that happened Sunday night into too early Monday morning. And Monday – yesterday – is the day I got some of my equilibrium returned. Go figure.


Only Child Writes


How Only Child wants to be and feel








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Filed under Burnout, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Memory loss, Stress, Time management, Uncategorized

Only child considers the sleep factor

Only Child looking like she could use more sleep

“To sleep, perchance to dream,” William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet. Forget the dreams; I’m having difficulty finding time to get ENOUGH sleep. But as some of my business gaffes last week show, I need more sleep because the lack of enough is affecting my cognitive abilities, my memory and making me anxious. I know I’ve hit on this topic before but it’s important enough to revisit.

The biggest gaffe (now corrected) is I mixed up dates for a one-day Blogging Your Memories workshop I’m teaching at the Riverdale Public Library branch in Toronto Oct. 5. I thought it was Oct. 3 and so put Oct. 5 as one of the dates for a Crafting Your Personal Memoir Writing course I’m running. Until I saw my library workshop posted on the library branch’s website. Oops.

Research shows I’m not alone in this Oops, not-enough-sleep factor.

A 2007 study conducted by Harris/Decima found that 90 percent of Canadian women don’t get sufficient shut-eye at night. Sixty percent of these sleep-deprived women live in Ontario, 59 percent in Quebec and the lowest number lacking enough sleep, at 50 percent, live in Maritime Canada. Why are we women not getting enough sleep? And the men are faring better. Stress (62 percent for women vs 53 percent for men), uncomfortable room temperature  (61 percent for women and 43 percent for men), and insomnia (35 percent for women and 25 percent for men).

And according to an earlier (2003) National Sleep Disorders Research plan, not spending enough time in the land of nod affects cognitive tasks, i.e.  the functional activity patterns between brain regions is altered. See

And your memory – or maybe that should be MY memory – too little sleep affects our working memory, according to a Wikipedia article 

This article states that EEG studies show if you get less sleep then you have less reaction time, your focus and your alertness decrease, and your accuracy nose-dives. Amen to that.

I think it all started years ago when in high school I burned the midnight and later oils cramming for exams. It didn’t do me much good.  Since then I have had times when I did get sufficient sleep. When I was pregnant with my son, I had to go to bed soon after 7 p.m. or I yawned the rest of the evening. But it was also the time I could get up by 7 a.m. and be wide awake. Not anymore. If I have to get up early I’m often dragging myself around until I get a few shots of coffee inside me. Of course later in the day I want to nap, but I press on with work because I have a backlog of editing, writing, etc., not to mention house stuff, to do – despite prioritizing. But that’s another story.

Now, I’m still dragging myself around late late at night (you don’t want to know the time) finishing up  house chores or organizing my next-day’s work schedule.

Two nights ago, I declared war on not getting enough sleep. That workshop/course date mix-up did it. Now. I’m trying to get my 7 1/4 hours of nightly sleep. That seems to be the magic number for me. I think I have to do as I did a few years ago when I would “kill” for my sleep and if anyone or anything stopped me from getting to bed by 11 p.m., let’s just say I didn’t feel kindly towards them.

Maybe it’s also an age thing – hormones, or no hormones, who knows. That Harris/Decima study didn’t mention anything about the ages of the women who were sleep-deprived. Or maybe (more likely) we women and men, too, are just doing too much; it’s stressing us out, and depriving us of sleep.

I’ve said “no” on a few things the past few weeks, and am trying to focus on one thing at a time – not always succeeding. More walking and continuing with my constant gardening (when not working) would also help. When winter comes I can shovel snow for exercise. Yeck!

I think I’ll continue concentrating on getting more sleep…and maybe perchance to dream about some ideas to cut down on the overwhelm in my days.

Anyone else have any ideas?


Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under Balance, Burnout, Cognitive disorders, Concentration, Life demands, Memory loss, Only child, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sleep deprivation, Stress

Only Child sleep deprived

Only Child trying to stay awake during the day

The signs are there. I’m forgetting where I put stuff. I’m finding stupid mistakes in my work (Clients please ignore this and read on). Sure, stress and too many distractions in the day are factors. But the biggie, according to sleep experts, is not getting enough zzzzs each night.

Slowly I’m sleeping my way to the big 8 hours of nightly sleep. That’s what these sleep experts say we need to function properly each day. Previously I had read that 7 hours worked and found that if I slept for 7 1/4 hours I was fine. Trouble is, the nights of that amount of sleep were few and far between. I get to bed way too late (too many things to do) and no, I don’t get up too early. However, when this relentless rain we’ve been receiving  this week stops for more than a few hours and the temperature climbs, I want to get up an hour earlier to go out into my garden before sitting in front of the computer. So, I have to work back from the other end – when I go to bed.

Surprisingly, I usually don’t have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. On the few occasions when I wake up during the night I generally nod off within a few minutes. A disclaimer here: I do not take drugs to sleep  or calm down, but occasionally take the natural supplement Valerian  Root to relax. It doesn’t interfere with daily functions.

My big problem is finding time to get enough sleep – something I first encountered in high school when I stayed up late studying for exams and set the alarm for 6 a.m. to continue studying. I still didn’t cover everything in the curriculum and would face the exam with trepidation.

I’m not alone in this not-enough-sleep lifestyle. Many of us “sleep-walk” our way through each day. A study by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia confirms many people are akin to the living dead in their reactions to  getting insufficient nightly shut-eye The CDC did an analysis of  information from a 2005-2008  National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Statistics gleaned here  on sleep deprivation are:

Adults  20–39 years  – 37.0%

Adults 40-59 years – 40.3%

Adults aged 60 years and over – 32.0%

I fall into this latter group so these somewhat lower statistics surprised me, mainly because of what my friends of the same age have told me, i.e., they go to bed late, wake up at 5 a.m. and can’t return to sleep so get up and read the newspaper and check e-mail.

The other jolt from this study is the main repercussion found from lack of sleep – 23.2 % of US adults had difficulty concentrating on doing things. When you consider everything people do daily, it gets scary. Driving and operating machinery come first to mind. But what about traffic controllers? There have been instances of airplanes circling the runway because of no traffic controller response except maybe a series of  snores. Even those of us who write and edit for a living lose our concentration fast. It seems to take longer to grasp something than normal and we miss bad sentence structures, wrong words in manuscripts and reports we edit (Clients, please snooze now). I’ve even dozed off for a few minutes and woken up startled to find my hands sitting on the computer keyboard.

Something has to be done. Bottom line is we need more sleep but how to get it? Some experts say to cut the TV viewing but that isn’t the only culprit. We stay out too late at social events. We work too late – and heaven help the night shift workers – they have it worse, but that’s another story. We try to cram too much into a day (guilty here). We need to either extend our sleep time in the morning or just get to bed earlier. I’m still don’t believe that on weekends you should get the same number of hours of sleep as weeknights (i.e. don’t sleep in). But if you do sleep in weekends, you need to get more than five or six or even seven hours of sleep during the week.

So, I’m trying to train myself to do less “housework” each night. I have the habit of doing the dishes late and then I get sidetracked from getting to bed by clearing papers off the table, sorting the unwieldy pile of unread magazines on the coffee table, sorting old newspapers, flyers and dumping them in the big recycling bin outside, and even reading said newspapers and magazines.  The list goes on and I’m not even fully awake at the time. Do I really have to do this now? should be our mantra. Ask yourself: will the world end if you don’t (supply your own task) tonight? Remember the three D’s – delay, delegate and dump. Being an “only person” here, the middle D often raises the question “Who?” But I’m using the other two “D’s” more.

Another option is power-napping for 20-minutes during the day. But that doesn’t mean we can forego a good night’s sleep. If we don’t get more sleep, our society could turn into snoring zombies.

Now that would be rude.



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Concentration, Health, Life demands, Memory loss, Only child, Prioritizing, Sleep deprivation, Time management