Sleep has always been a huge part of my life, not because I love to sleep but if I don’t get enough sleep I don’t function well. I need 8 hours of sleep a night. With less than 7-8 hours of sleep my ability to maintain my emotions or think straight is greatly diminished. With 6 or less, I my body temperature elevates over 99.4 degrees (I am always at 98.4 or 98.6) and I actually feel sick or like I am coming down with something.
Because of my need for sleep, I have become a bit obsessed with it. I really hate not feeling well, mentally or physically, so I make sure I get the sleep I need, even if that means going to bed when most people are just getting their night started. My friends can attest to this. I do not have a big nighttime social life.
So over the past years I have noticed some patterns and lately I have come across information that is helping me understand these sleep patterns of mine.
First, I started documenting my dreams. In doing so, I realized I was waking up or having my most lucid dreams around 3:30-4:30 every morning. When I started teaching, this became the time when solutions to questions and difficulties became apparent, creative ideas were formulated, and my classroom lesson plans were improved.
Talking to friends and family, I have realized that this is a common wake time for people. This is especially true for older people who are no longer in the workforce and therefore a pre-determined schedule.
Check out this entertaining TedTalk about 4am…
Second, my husband got me a FitBit HR for my birthday which can analyze my sleep patterns. Pretty cool when its working. My FitBit confirmed what I already knew…I toss and turn all night. I do have to change sides to prevent from getting stiff so that made sense. What it showed me was how much deep sleep I got and in how often I was really asleep, in a light sleep or truly awake.
Now that I am working, I have been using an alarm clock, which also wakes up my husband. I am pretty sure that why he got me the Sense sleep monitor and alarm clock for Christmas. This crowd-sourced new product learns your sleep patterns and then will wake you up gently and during a sleep pattern where you are not in a deep sleep. When you wake up in the middle of a deep sleep or REM sleep, you will feel tired and drained. However, if you wake during a light sleep you will feel more refreshed and awake. So, the Sense will wake you within 30 minutes of your alarm for the optimal time to have a good day. You can purchase directly from Sense website at https://hello.is/3 or at Amazon.
During this time of sleep monitoring… articles on sleep kept appearing. What I learned was that our ancestors would sleep when it became dark. After about 4 hours of sleep, they would wake get some things done and go back to sleep. This theory helps explain why we wake up in the middle of the night. Working 9-5 jobs and the use of artifical light have forced us to change our natural sleep patterns, thus perpetuating sleep problems. This all supports my belief that when you fight nature, you will ultimately suffer.
Finally, it was suggested to me to honor this waking time by getting out of bed and doing my lesson plans or whatever information I was “downloading” at that time. I could then go back to bed and finish the rest of my sleep. This would alleviate some work time in the evening that I could spend with my family. One night I did do this and it wasn’t bad. I woke at 3 am and got some work done. Then I went back to bed around 4:30am and slept until 6am. Normally I get up at 5am but I was able to get some morning routines done at 3 am instead. I also realized that the sleep I got from 5-6 was a deep good sleep and I felt better in the morning then when I toss and turn for that last hour or so.
There are two problems with this new pattern of sleep. One, it is winter and I don’t want to get out of my warm bed. Two, when my husband is home my early morning wanderings can affect his ability to sleep. I think this is mostly true because he is also having trouble sleeping and doesn’t want to accept this mid-night waking theory. He would rather toss and turn.
So I will try this mid-waking thing at some point. I have promised to try it for one week at some point. For now, I write down the information and ideas I do receive and I implement them at 5am when that damn alarm goes off. (in truth, I wake before the alarm most of the time)
So if you are having this same problem, maybe something here can help you. For those that fall asleep and don’t stir until the morning…you are very lucky!
Honor yourself and your internal rhythms. Balance occurs when we allow our bodies and spirits to live in harmony.