For days I’ve been trying to figure out why I fight sleep. I do. I fight it tooth and nail. I’ll be exhausted, barely able to keep my eyes open and refuse to go to bed.
Sure, I have stages where I sleep well… going to bed at a reasonable time, sleeping through the night, waking up refreshed. Those stages are wonderful.
Those stages are also over too quickly. I barely get into a routine before I find myself kicking and screaming in my mind about going to bed. Sleep the battleground. Again.
Why??!! I just want to sleep!! Really!! I like sleep!!
I understand the adrenaline connection. That’s stress. I’ve been taking care to reduce my stress reactions lately and it’s working. I’m not waking up repeatedly during the night. I’m not staying up on nervous energy. Stress isn’t the cause of this battle.
This battlefield is the craven, almost desperate need I have to stay up, even if exhausted, fighting sleep at almost any cost… I almost wanted to call it habit until I began getting little messages everywhere that it might not be so simple as habit.
Lately I’ve read from people suffering sleep difficulties, or insomnia… staying up gives alone time. I always think… Exactly! It’s the only time I know I’ll be alone. That’s been true ever since I first began having sleep problems in my pre-teens. Although now with teenagers in the house you can be pretty damn certain that I’m more likely to get alone time getting up at 6am instead of being up in the middle of the night, so it doesn’t ring true anymore.
Alone time… I don’t even want to be alone. Not really. I’ll spend time talking to people online, playing games, reading, writing, all kinds of distractions. I can be totally exhausted and I’ll still fight going to sleep… distract me for five more minutes, please?!
Distraction… the great avoidance and disconnection
So, it’s not about being alone, it’s about distracting myself. Most of my behaviours learned while growing up were about avoidance and disconnection. So logically, my sleep difficulties, which began around the time I began wishing I could die, would be as well. Really, why stay up and distract myself if I can just sleep instead?
Here’s something I only ever told Chris… I don’t want to dream! Broken sleep pretty much ruins dreaming, or at least the ability to remember them. I dream, but usually I wake up with no more than the sense of a dream. Remembering is rare for me.
Think about it this way… dreams consolidate/strengthen memories and experiences. Successfully analysing our dreams gives us understanding and insight into ourselves. This is good when we’re journeying within as I’ve been doing. It isn’t good if you’re trying to disconnect, trying to avoid life.
There’s also something that I hadn’t considered before, connection to the world… Jeffrey Sumber wrote the other day concerning dream analysis…
“Delving deeper into my unconscious self and creating a personal mythology effectively draws upon the wisdom of the collective unconscious and in so doing bridges the space between us in our waking life.”
Lightbulb moment! Do we feel less connected to others if we don’t work with our dreams? I stopped and thought about it… I guess it’s true. Actually, no guessing, I only need to look back at taking part in #reverb10 last month. Working within lets me feel connected to the world, it stops me disconnecting. Dream analysis is working within.
Memories and sleep
Sleep effects memories. Sure, the research never mentions what effect dreams have, but I guess that would make the research harder to quantify.
Dr Daniel Margoliash, one of the study authors, said: ‘Sleep consolidates memories, protecting them against subsequent interference or decay.
‘Sleep also appears to ‘recover’ or restore memories.’
He said: ‘If performance is reduced by decay, sleep might actively recover what has been lost.’
You can read the rest by clicking here
There’s a lot of research out there on the effect of sleep on memories. So, it’s pretty safe for me to say that 30 years of broken sleep patterns and 30 years of random memories are very likely connected.
Distraction… avoidance & disconnection. Sleep, dreams, memory and working within. Connection.
Another learned behaviour
A child is so unhappy that she wishes she could die. Subconsciously she learns staying up, interrupting her sleep effects the way she feels and remembers, in effect disconnecting her from the world that doesn’t love her.
Could that be what happened? It’s possible. Most of the behaviours I learned growing up were about avoiding and disconnecting from the world… survival mechanisms for a child who couldn’t cope.
The simple truth is I’m avoiding connection, which makes sense as I’ve begun writing my next post about… questions I’ve been getting lately. This sleep battle began around the same time. All begins to click into place. The bonus with this understanding… learned behaviours. It’s a matter of teaching myself new ways to behave instead.
I may still be missing pieces of the puzzle, actually I might be way off, but understanding why and where the sleep problems began has to help with changing the behaviour. Of course, distracting myself by staying up until the middle of the night to write this doesn’t. LOL.