August 26, 2004

Further answers about sleep

I didn't answer the whole question yet for the one reader who asked about my sleep. I do force my sleep patterns these days. I believe that those of us with busy brains like to stay up a little later than normal folk. I don't fight this anymore. I would though recommend early bed times for those just starting recovery. Also most professionals will encourage normal sleep patterns. I have yet to meet a health professional who will coach me on how to control my sleep but I have figured it out on my own.

By staying up for a longer day which happens because of more active mind but also because I am planning my sleep and wake times, by the time I have set to sleep I am tired. By allowing a different personal sleep pattern I am never having trouble sleeping anymore. I almost always drop off to sleep five to ten minutes after lieing down for sleep. I have never been prescribed sleeping pills so I don't know much about that problem. But with my busy brain in the past I had trouble falling asleep. Now I have beaten that problem.

I often start to feel tired after being awake 16 hours. By 20 hours awake I am tired and can go to sleep quite quickly. If I force myself to stay up at this point I am frazzelled and slightly accident prone, but also around the 20 hour mark or 18 hour mark I get my second wind and this is when a fresh pot of coffee or a good meal will keep me up and going for a few more hours. I rarely stay up past the 24 hour mark. By 24 hours awake I am only meditative and can talk someone's ear off. I can't read at that point but can write some very good stuff but often there are numerous spelling errors at that point. Even though I probably proof read 98% of what I write on the Internet at least once. At the moment I am writing this entry, I have been awake 13 hours.

Sleep is thus both forced in forcing myself to stay awake and forcing my self to wake up at the beginning of the day and but not forced at going to sleep but planned. That is one of the main goals of controlling ones sleep, that is by planning ahead sleep times and waking times, one does not need to wake up with only 4 hours sleep to get to work on time. I usually can plan to get 8 to 10 hours sleep. Only occassionally am I in a bind and need to get only 4-5 hours sleep.

Since my work days and times in my main job vary I can adjust as needed and need to adjust but I do this with usually a week's notice of the exact time and date of my next work shift. Of course, planning school courses also allows one to plan for three months forward at the beginning of term, but this is more like having times set in stone for each week and I still don't get to all my classes sometimes I still sleep in for school. Also at school my teaching assistant work is set for the whole three month term. I never miss these clases where I am the TA because I am being paid to be there and accept this responsiblity. A big part of that work is unscheduled marking of tests and assignments which I do at home late at night although I have a basic window of a week to get these marked the exact time is less improtant and can be adjusted within that week. Again I set for myself a limit of not marking student's work if I am frazzled or too tired. But I squeeze this marking work into the rest of my schedule when it comes up, not well in advance like the actual classes I give.

Another great help these past few years has been set socialising times each week that rarely change so I plan around this. I now plan a social group with others with schizophrenia but sometimes have to change this gathering night and that upsets my friends. I know from the mental health guide from BC for family members behaviour with those with schizophrenia that being consistent is good and also from my own experience of regular social patterns, meaning the same friends getting together on the same night each week, that this regular pattern helps recovery. In the 1990's I planned around our self help group which always met on Monday evenings. Back then, I would only choose classes or volunteer activities or other outside events that did not occur on Monday evenings. I was making sure to attend what was important namely the self help group that focused on my mental health and thus I put my recovery first. I now tend to put my socialising first and also my working life.

Posted by petert at August 26, 2004 11:32 PM


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