Welcome to my lonely hours--the ones from right after my husband goes to bed and to the time I finally get sleepy enough to join him. More often than not, I find myself waiting well into the single digit hours of the morning for this to happen.
Now I have always been something of a "night owl," but my current predicament is quite a different thing altogether. It seems that my body has decided that I currently reside somewhere in the South Pacific and has scheduled itself accordingly. My sleep situation prompts some interesting discussions in my home about my need to move to Australia. It's too bad moving won't really solve my problem...
I've seen sleep specialists and they don't seem to really have anything to offer me in the form of a solution. Frustrated, I recently searched online for answers and found this very interesting article about delayed phase sleep disorder at the HealthCommunities.com Sleep Channel. Since there is so much good information there, I'm only going to highlight some points I think are worth repeating:
- Delayed phase sleep disorder means that a person cannot fall asleep until the early morning hours (usually after 3 a.m.) and only when the body signals that it is ready for sleep.
- Waking up during "normal" morning hours is extremely difficult, so much so that it is advised that driving at this time of day be avoided since sleep deprivation can make this very dangerous.
- It appears that persons with serious illness often develop this disorder, perhaps because the body's healing process causes disruption to the normal circadian rhythm.
- Contrary to what I have been told, chronotherapy to return to a "normal" sleep schedule actually involves progressively going to bed and waking up 3 hours later than the previous night until the desired bedtime is achieved.
I am intrigued by the possibility that my body's attempts to heal itself from my multitude of chronic illnesses might be the root cause and reason why this particular sleep disorder plagues me. Which makes me think that if somehow the burden of my illnesses could be reduced I might be able to get back into a more normal sleep pattern. However, this is easier said than done.
So for now, I find it easier to go with the flow and live life within the confines of my body's altered schedule. Which in practical terms means learning to make the best of long, lonely nights. My overnight routine to help me reach sleepland includes a combination of:
- solo piano music
- warm cups of herbal tea
- good books
- the pursuit of writing
- the company of my sleeping pets
- and a growing appreciation for the peace and quiet these hours of the night bring.
Let me share with you some of my favorite solo piano pieces from Pandora: