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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Sleep Smarts

By Sasha Kildare

www.bphope.com

"I get all the Girl Scouts paperwork done after midnight. It's so quiet then."

"Don't stress out about dinner. Just use a crock pot. If you get up at 4 in the morning, you can chop and prep before getting ready for work."

The working mothers I know seem to compete for bragging rights to sleep deprivation. Sometimes I feel as if needing eight hours of shut-eye a night brands me as a loser mom. But if I start chopping and prepping in the wee hours, I might as well prep my suitcase for the hospital.

I track my sleep balance as if my life depends on it—well, my life as a healthy, functioning, mania-free adult, anyhow. I don't need any more "vacations" in psych wards because I convinced myself it was a tremendous advantage to exist on less and less sleep, losing my ability to reason, control my impulses, and exercise good judgment along the way.

The art of sleeping soundly has become a critical component in my long-term remission from bipolar disorder. My nighttime rituals include soft light, soft pajamas, a soft pillow, and, if necessary, the sound of soft rain via CD. My daytime ritual of exercising regularly provides insurance that I will sleep soundly.

I generally sleep a tad more than seven hours on weeknights, slightly longer on weekends. Juggling a challenging job, a tricky commute, freelance assignments, my spiritual practice, and helping with homework, youth sports and activities can whittle that down to six hours.

After one night of abbreviated sleep, meeting my deadlines at work takes effort, my head throbs faintly, and I crave caffeine. After two nights, I struggle to get out of bed, feel as if I'm recovering from the flu, and start tearing up to Pink Floyd.

To ease the pain and prevent hypomania, I sometimes resort to daytime dozing. … [end of excerpt]

Click here to read the full article, "Sleep Smarts."

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