Question of the day.

Are you an early riser?

My answer:

Yes and no. I think I wrote about my crazy weird sleep a lot on here. I don’t like the morning lark/night owl classification of people, well I don’t mind it in general but it just doesn’t really work for me personally because I could say I’m sort of both and neither. 😀 And I’m sure I’m not alone with this. So in this post, I’ll go beyond just answering the question and try to explain in more detail why this labelling doesn’t work for me and what’s the deal with my sleep exactly, especially for those who don’t know me outside of the blog.

Basically, if you don’t know about it yet, I’ve been totally blind since birth, and totally also includes no light perception, so, quite naturally, my brain has always been more or less confused what time of day, or night, it is, so instead it decides on its own. There were times in my life when I was quite frustrated about this but generally I’m used to it and it’s just how it is.

Whenever my Mum talks about what my siblings and me were as babies and toddlers, she always says that she had no big problems with me in terms of behaviour then, except for sleep, and she learned quickly that mid-day naps were not for me ’cause then I’d be full of beans for most of the night, and that would of course affect my parents as well. I now know that there is something called non-24-hour sleep/wake disorder, which is a circadian rhythm disorder affecting mostly totally blind people, but I only learned about it as an adult and I’ve never found any resources about it in Polish so I don’t think anyone in my surroundings as a child even had an idea about it existing, plus even though a lot of problems that people experience with it sound familiar to me, I’m not sure that that is exactly what is the problem with my sleep, because it’s a bit different for me. I’d say it’s kind of more irregular, but at the same time I guess I seem to struggle with the whole thing less than most people with the condition and it’s easier to manage by things like avoiding naps, while many people who actually have non-24 diagnosed or are very sure of having it don’t seem to be able to resist the urge of napping as easily as I can, and no, I’m not particularly self-disciplined at all, although I do hate naps because they turn my clock upside down, but there are times when you just can’t fight it. I guess in my case, it must be quite a mixture of things causing the circadian rhythm situation that I’m in. I was born with hypopituitarism, and of course pituitary regulates a lot of things, and according to my Mum it’s circadian rhythm as well. I was taking growth hormone injections as a child as I had a deficiency of it and I remember reading somewhere that this hormone plays some kind of a role in regulating the circadian rhythm. And then of course there’s all the mental health stuff on top of it and it definitely has a strong impact on one’s sleep.

At this particular point in my life though, I’m happy to say that it doesn’t really matter whatever the name of my sleep problem is, because I can adjust my life to my brain’s whims if need be, having a very flexible schedule and being in charge of my own time for the most part, not having to work at strictly set times or anything like that, which is a great luxury after having had lived a very structured life earlier at the boarding school, where I felt quite sleep deprived a lot of the time, not just because of the schedule but also because I would often stay awake at night willfully when I could, to be able to do something more than the usual school stuff, like write the Jack Hamilton novel, journal, listen to music or just plain be with myself and my own thoughts, which I felt was essential to my mental wellbeing and for which I didn’t have a lot of space during the day but which also made me a zombie the next morning. I don’t think that, even if I had a diagnosis and a label for it, someone would actually be able to offer me a lot more help. I have an impression that accepting it as something that is a part of me (which of course wouldn’t be as easy if my life right now looked differently) and not fighting this all the time has actually improved my sleep situation over the last five years.

Usually what people say to me when I tell them more about my sleep problem, regardless whether they’re just casual people or some professionals, is that I should try melatonin. Since it’s such an obvious thing to try, I did and a few times. It would always make me feel drowsy during the day even at low doses, and, very bizarrely, I had the weirdest, scariest nightmares on it. Even more bizarrely, I’ve heard I’m not the only one in the blind community who had this experience, even though I also know a bunch of blind people who take it with no problem and it really makes a change for them.

I’d say the way my circadian rhythm works right now is that, most of the time I have a bit of a compromise with my brain, where both of us are having our requirements that need to be met but also try to be flexible as much as possible in regards to one another. I guess people with classic non-24 can’t afford that on a regular basis as their brain are less inclined to make a compromise.

I sometimes say that my brain is in something like a constant mild jet lag, travelling between different time zones. The times when I’m asleep or awake, or at least sleepy and alert, shift in a bit of a cycle. I still haven’t fully figured out how exactly it works, what kind of rules are there at play or maybe how many hours it typically shifts per what amount of time, because time involves too much math for me. And there must be many factors at play which can influence the way this cycle evolves, but there definitely is some sort of a pattern, even if it’s a subtle or a complex one perhaps. I’ve had my iPhone for over half a year now and I’ve been logging my sleep since then, but that hasn’t really given me much more of an idea so far either.

I’d say that one specific trend in my circadian rhythm will usually remain more or less of a thing for about a week, but it also depends on my lifestyle and loads of other things. So my brain may think one week that it’s really cool to wake up at 7:30 AM and go to sleep by 12 AM, which is okay with me too and this is always the sleep schedule I’m trying to aim for, because even if it doesn’t work out, I think it’s better when you have some sort of a reference of when you should/want to sleep and be awake. And then, gradually, I may be waking up later and later and falling asleep later and later, until at some point I won’t be feeling sleepy at night at all and will end up having a zombie day, which is, as you probably know already, what I call a day after a sleepless night. I typically have one zombie day a month, more if I’m stressed or something weird is going on. Zombie days are obviously quite horrid, I don’t think I have to convince anyone as I guess most people have enough first-hand experience of that, but I’m quite used to that and they seriously can have their upsides sometimes. The biggest upside to a zombie day, however, is that it resets my brain clock. It hardly ever happens that I’d have more than one zombie day in a row unless I’m having a lot of anxiety or something else is seriously off. Usually, after a zombie day, I’ll have a fabulous night of restful sleep and, if I go to sleep early enough – that is I think something between 7-9 PM –
chances are high that I’ll wake up feeling very refreshed in the morning and wake up at a decent time similar to when most human beings in my time zone wake up. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to fall asleep just as smoothly and decently, but a reset has happened, so I have a chance to try and do everything I can to continue a normal or near-normal sleep-wake cycle for as long as possible.

It doesn’t have to always look this way though, because I can just as well wake up early and go to sleep early, or wake up late and go to sleep early, any combination is possible. What particularly seems to disagree in my case with what I know about non-24 is that for me the amount of time I spend awake or asleep also shifts over time, whereas, at least from what I know, for non-24 folks it’s only the times. It can also change whether the amount of sleep I’m getting feels enough for me, for example I may be sleeping like four hours and wake up refreshed and bursting with creativity, or another time I may be sleeping just as much and feel like I could use some sleep. That’s also been the case lately, since about last Thursday, as I keep finding it difficult to fall asleep at night and usually do about 1 AM, and then wake up about 4-6 AM and would love to sleep more but it just doesn’t work. I still prefer that than over-sleeping which usually makes me feel awful even when it’s actually what I need and is refreshing.

So because of all that, as you can see, I can’t really say whether I am an early riser or not, it really depends. Like I said though, I do try to stick to some kind of sleep-wake routine, by having an alarm set to 7:30 every day and falling asleep by midnight. I do think 7:30 is pretty early. That does help with having a bit of a reference for my brain to what’s relatively normal, or getting back on track faster when things get messed up. I don’t know if that makes me more of an early riser, because even though that’s what I aim for and I manage to succeed sometimes more often and sometimes less, I don’t push myself for all means to get up at 7:30. If I wake up at that time and my brain says “No way, I want to sleep at least three hours more!” that’s what we’re doing, as long as there is nothing I have to do urgently in the morning and nowhere to go. Same about going to sleep. If it’s 11 Pm and my brain clearly doesn’t want to go to sleep, I’m not going to force it unless I really have to do something important the next day in the morning, but even so, I probably won’t be able to fall asleep anyway and will only get stressed about it more when lying in bed than if I were doing something more productive instead until I’ll feel sleepy. And feeling stressed makes me only less likely to fall asleep. I also won’t typically lay in bed if I wake up at 3 AM until my alarm goes off, unless I truly feel I may fall asleep again soon. If I don’t fall back asleep in about 15 minutes, and don’t feel any more sleepy than I did when I woke up, I’ll usually get up, unless I really have no idea what I could be doing this early and don’t feel like getting up. Usually I regret it though, because if I stay awake in bed for too long after having slept earlier, at some point I’ll often start feeling groggy and then drift off straight into sleep paralysis. It’s not the case every single time though, which is why I sometimes fall into this trap, thinking that maybe this time it won’t happen and not wanting to get up at such an insanely early hour, and then it starts happening so quickly that I can rarely pull out of it. Sleep paralysis is one sleep-related thing that I do find very difficult to live with.

I normally try to restrain my brain from sleeping after noon as that hardly ends well and is rarely actually properly restorative, but sometimes is very difficult if not impossible to resist if I had a bad night’s sleep. And like I said I really hate naps and avoid them at all costs. Sometimes when my sleep cycle is really messed up and it bugs me, and I can afford having a super low key, lazy day of doing nothing and possibly being a mental mess, I’ll go as far as to force a zombie day to reset my brain clock. I’ll get as much sleep as possible one night and day, and then won’t go to bed at all the next night. Sometimes that works, but sometimes I have to give up and go to bed early in the morning and sleep through most of the day, other times I just have to have a nap and then end up right where I started off. These days, ever since I’ve started having more frequent migraines, I don’t really do that because it’s a sure thing to give me a migraine, and migraines always make me sleep more so it just no longer works and is generally rather unpleasant and radical.

Other than that, my anti-anxiety medication also works for sleep and it really helps me immensely in crisis situations, but I try to only take it when I absolutely have to, plus I often only know that I’m going to have trouble sleeping when it’s already night, and no point taking anything for sleep at night as that will surely make me properly hungover tomorrow and I hate the feeling with a passion.

And of course I also have a lot of other ways of dealing with all the sleep stuff, which a lot of people typically use when they struggle with it. I have my sleep habits like how many pillows I sleep with, the fact that I listen to music quietly while sleeping or read before falling asleep, etc. and cultivating such habits helps me fall asleep and create a sort of sleepy atmosphere. I love to listen to Misha purring before sleep, even though he never purrs loud. I like having a hot bath before sleep when I can, or a mug of cocoa or something else that would make me feel cosy in a sleepy way. Or I like to imagine something calm and friendly before going to sleep. That doesn’t always work, because I’m a professional ruminator, but when I can focus on all things Bibiel-friendly, the results are often very good.

Okay, now over to you. 🙂

Question of the day.

If you could take a pill every day that perfectly replicated a good night’s sleep – made you feel physically refreshed and chemically balanced, like a real sleep – would you take it every day? What would you do with all that newly acquired time?

My answer:

I probably wouldn’t want to take it every day, because I love my sleep and dreaming and all that, but, if that was an option to do so, I’d probably take it once in a while. Sometimes I could use a longer day, to be able to squeeze more things in. Not because I’m that busy on a typical day, I just have a lot of ideas and things that I’m into, while at the same time being quite disorganised in general so having more time for things would sometimes be helpful. Also sometimes I don’t like sleep, like when I have a lot of yucky dreams or sleep paralysis or something, then I have a sort of mild fear of sleep until things go back to more normal. I could use such a sleep pill in such situations and just not have to bother with sleeping. Other times, sleep is just not refreshing or chemically balancing, so I’d take the pill after waking up to be more functional. Or when I’m a zombie and haven’t slept at all the night before. Or if I just wouldn’t feel like sleeping, wouldn’t be sleepy at all. That would be a fabulous invention if we had such a pill. Only I’m fairly sure that since it would have such a major effect on one’s overall state and affect the brain, which is still quite an unknown territory for us, it would probably come with its fair share of side effects and possibly addiction or some sleep dysregulation. Wouldn’t be surprised at all.

How about you? And what do you think about this idea? Would such a pill work out, if it was a real possibility? 🙂

Question of the day.

If you wake up at 3 AM and can’t fall back asleep, what do you do?

My answer:

As someone with quite erratic sleep-wake cycle which shifts a lot, mostly due to the fact that I have no light perception, I end up in such a situation quite often. Unlike a lot of people who struggle with sleep problems and disorders though, it’s not a huge source of frustration for me. Largely because it’s always been like this, and now I’m in a very comfortable life situation where I am in charge of my own time so everything is very flexible, I can sleep in if I need to, I can go to sleep very early if I was up all night, or I can have a more low-key day if I’m a zombie running on no sleep. Having lived in an exactly opposite way most of my life, where I did have to live a very structured life and having to fit in my constantly more or less “jet-lagged” into it, I appreciate this luxury all the more. So it’s not a big deal for me usually if I can’t sleep at 3 AM or wake up at that time.

I do lots of different things if I can’t sleep at night, I just take it as an extra amount of time that I can do something interesting with. Sometimes, when I’m in a phase when I don’t need a lot of sleep and can go on four hours or so and feel quite rested for a few days, I’m feeling quite energised at night and put my energy into something creative. Generally, regardless of my energy levels, I feel that I’m often a lot more creative and deep-thinking at night and come up with a lot of interesting ideas. 😀 So I’ll do some journaling, sometimes write a short story or try to write something more in my huge, neverending Jack Hamilton novel which I’ve been writing since like fourth grade and Jack Hamilton has been a great friend of mine and especially on sleepless nights, my Mum says that he’s like an old dog who’s barely alive but you’re too attached to him to put him down. I rarely add something more to that these days because I don’t need Jack as much as I used to as a teenager and we both have changed a lot, but I do not want to put a clear end to this whole thing, so these days if I write something more to it it’s usually just a little bit. He’s going to be celebrating his 100th birthday quite soon, I believe. Other times, I’ll just listen to some music and daydream (wait, nightdream) or go into my Brainworld, as I’ve always been an avid paracosmist (I’ve been a paracosmist my entire life and only recently learned about the existence of this word 😀 ).

If I’m less creatively inclined, I’ll just read or listen to music, often without even getting out of bed, although if I can’t fall back asleep for longer than an hour I usually get up because if I fall back asleep after such longer but still not very long time, I have almost guaranteed sleep paralysis and while people have varying attitudes towards it, for me it’s always been extremely scary because it features stuff I’m scared of in real life and sometimes one relatively short episode of sleep paralysis can affect me for a few days and make me super anxious.

Since we’ve got Misha, I’m often not the only one who isn’t asleep at 3 AM in this house. Misha’s sleep cycle is also totally different than the cycles of the peeps in here, so he’ll also often have loads of energy in the middle of the night, running wildly around the living room or playing with his glass balls. If that is the case, I’ll often bring him up to my room, as here his play won’t wake up anyone else, and we’ll play together.

Other times, I just go online and write with people or something, or play BitLife, ever since I’ve got my iPhone, because yes, I still play it quite a lot. Or just start my day properly, get dressed, eat something and do whatever I was going to do in the day anyway.

How about you? Does such a scenario often take place in your life? 🙂

Question of the day.

What time do you go to bed?

My answer:

As in my answer to the previous question, my circadian rhythm is screwed up so there are no rules whatsoever in practice for what time I fall asleep. I do try to have a more predictive bedtime though if possible, so my standard goal is to be in bed by midnight, not later. I might eventually get up if I’m not having any luck falling asleep for an hour or longer, or when I’m feeling mentally crappy and if I am only able to sleep, I like to go to sleep earlier and sleep as much as possible.

You? 🙂

Brain, what do you want from me?

I’m seriously starting to wonder what’s up with those flippin’ Sundays! I’m recently getting Zombie days exclusively on Sundays, and this month I’ve hit a record. Three Zombie days in a month, all Sundays, including this one. If you don’t know what a Zombie day is, it’s the day after a sleepless night. I call it this way at least. Mondays used to be most often my Zombie days back when I was at school, and I guess that was even worse. To not be able to sleep for the whole night and then having to start a week in the Zombie mode, grrrrr yuck!

Another thing that I’ve been wondering a lot today is what does my brain want. I never know that during a Zombie day. I never know what I want. A Zombie day probably means something slightly different for everyone. For me, it’s a weird, floaty, dream-like, hazy, unreal feeling in my brain and my whole body. I often catch myself wondering “Is all this even real?”. I often get deja vus when I’m a Zombie, and my sense of time is changed. It’s like there is almost no time passing if I don’t look at the clock. I’m often a bit hyper in the morning, and then go into apathetic and zoning out, but I won’t go take a nap because my sleep cycle needs to reset. Sometimes I even mix languages like today. I feel like I’m losing control, and I’m often very anxious, jittery and even very panicky, but I can’t take my med ’cause in such a state of mind it’ll make me fall asleep while walking, as was the case with my horse Ɓoƛ, instead of muffling the anxiety. I am cold and weak and obviously lack the energy, am dizzy, and towards the end of the day if I’m really worn out I sometimes get little creepy hallucinations that make me want to scream with fear but I’m too scared to do that. Is that even normal when you have just one Zombie day? I’m more creative and coming up with bizarre, completely out of the box, apparently illogical but very logical ideas and solutions and theories, and the cool part about them is that I still love them the next day and often listen to my Zombie brain and take what it came up with into account. Perhaps it works like for people who apparently get the solutions for their problems from dreams? I can be a bit impulsive so I try not to do important things or such that need a cooled down perspective on a Zombie day, and I can easily go from something even quite close to euphoria to the darkest depression and an emotional overload, and when something is not going right, I can easily slip into hopelessness, it just feels like things are always going to be this way.

But most of all, I don’t know what I want! It’s so frustrating. I mean, I often don’t know that anyway, but in my Zombie mode, that affects even the most basic things. I’m faint and starving, and badly nauseous at the same time and I don’t know what to do with that. I think for like 15 minutes, “Am I hungry?…”. I decide I am, and then I can barely eat anything. Do I want to write a post, or take a shower? Does it matter? Perhaps not, but I have to do one thing first. But first I’ll rather just sit for the next 15 minutes with my Brain in the Zombie zone.Do I critically need a nap, or can I stay awake until the evening? Yes, I give up, I need a nap! I lay on the bed, and although my mind is swirling between the real world and Dreamland, it can’t quite decide on any of those. Do I want to drink green tea or cocoa? Do I actually want to drink anything? Is it better to be around people and be scared of people or alone and scared of my own brain? How can I know all those overwhelming things if even my brain doesn’t care to decide? Zombie days are weird.

But at some point, there comes a moment when all the controls in your brain go bright red, and suddenly you realise: “YAY! It’s time for sleep! That’s what I want! Sleep, sleep, sleep and sleep!”.

And now I’ve come to that place. I know that what I want is to

wrap

uptightly in all the possible blankets in my room, wrap Misha up cosily and snugly in his bed, and float away into Dreamland. Switch off my brain finally, in desperate hope that when I’ll wake up, it will reset, change the layouts and show me different worlds, both the outer and inner one. Perhaps the Zombie day was what my brain needed. It has been cluttered with unimaginable for me amounts of worries and ruminations over the last week, and a Zombie way is quite a smart way to do a reset. Only, will it really work this time? I am desperately hopeful and deeply sceptical at the same time.

But I guess the time is flying by, my precious seconds of potential sleep are flying away, so, for now I’ll leave you to it, and hope that, whatever is the time where you are, the next time you’ll be sleeping, it will be a really healing, powerfully regenerative sleep.

Do you often get Zombie days? How do they feel like for you?

 

Question of the day.

Hi lovely people! 🙂

My question for you today is very simple, and feel free to answer it whatever way you want:

Where are you going to?

My answer:

The only goal I am capable of seeing right now is – to bed! – As soon as possible. I am having a Zombie day and not a good one… wooow, I’m really so bright and eloquent today, ain’t I?! Has anyone ever had a good Zombie day. Can a Zombie feel good? I have an ambitious plan of writing something more today, maybe some stream of consciousness post –
I’ve written some pretty good SOCS stories in Polish over the last couple of weeks, inspired solely by music, but no, don’t worry, I’m not gonna try to write a short story here today, just a bit of a ramble, just because I haven’t posted much of such stuff lately. And then I’m going to take a shower, wash my brain (that is hair obviously if you’re a newbie) and go to Sleepland.

You? 🙂