Here it is friends, the conclusion to the insomnia posts, for now. After my discussion with Benny about my sleep issues and thinking through our kid’s sleep patterns, I wanted to dig a little deeper. I’ve read several articles and received advice from many friends, and I have some new conclusions which may change again in the future, who knows?
As with most topics, there are a wide range of opinions. I was pretty sure I knew the cause of my insomnia, and there is plenty of data to back it up, but then I read a few articles on Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which is a fancy name for being an extreme night owl. It has to do with the circadian rhythm and where most people can make their bodies adjust to earlier bed and wake times, people with this disorder (I really hate that word) cannot, and attempts at therapies to correct it cause a variety of issues such as depression and physical illness. Often there is a feeling of having a lack of will power or others viewing you as lazy because it’s difficult for you to get up in the morning. BUT, those who have DSPS usually get good sleep once they go to sleep, it just happens later in the 24 hour cycle than the societal norm.
I was chatting about this with my friend Beckie today and I told her that my perfect sleeping hours – the ones that feel most natural to me – are 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. If left to sleep when my body wants to, and wake up feeling rested, this is when I sleep. But friends, it’s an early bird world we live in, and all the early birds want us night owls to conform. Whether or not I am ever diagnosed with DSPS, I have almost all of the symptoms, and guess what? It’s thought to be hereditary. I know both of my parents are morning people, so it must not come from them, but it does explain why my son Max has similar tendencies.
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m ruling out a calcium or magnesium deficiency, or the amount of stress in my life, or even the fear aspect of going to sleep, but it was eye-opening for me to read that this isn’t as uncommon as I thought. This article mentioned a few therapies that have been tried to help those who might suffer from DSPS such as practicing good sleep hygiene, light therapy, Chronotherapy, and Melatonin, which incidentally can cause nightmares and actually disrupt sleep. Hmmm…interesting. I’ve taken Melatonin – a natural OTC supplement sold in the U.S. – a few times to help me relax and sleep. The article also listed several external links on the subject of sleep disorders. It’s interesting reading if this topic suits you.
There is a group out there called the B-Society. I haven’t fully researched them, but I loved this blurb on their website:
Why do we need to work at the same time and in identical patterns as the industrial times, when today’s innovation society does not demand this from us? Especially now, when we discover that a fourth of our entire population does not even fit to this old-fashioned day rhythm?
Why do we all have to be stuck on the road to work every morning and hurry back from there to pick up the kids before the day-care centre closes, when actually this could be different?
B-Society’s mission is to change the structures, on the labour market and in society at large, so B-people can finally fit in. We are going to reckon with the 8-4 society and its lacking respect for B-persons’ day rhythms.
YEAH! Oh…um…sorry. So now that I’m even more (and less) confused about my insomnia, let me wrap this up for us, okay?
I do feel that my natural circadian rhythm is okay and because of the lifestyle we have chosen (running our own ministry, freelance writing and homeschooling), I don’t see a reason to change that. Thank God Benny doesn’t either. He doesn’t get the whole being a night owl thing, but he loves and supports me and said he’ll get the kids going in the morning with breakfast, their chore charts, and school work until I get up. In turn, I’ll get everyone ready for bed and tucked in at night. I love it when a plan comes together. Speaking of plans, here’s mine, and it’s even better than the one I came up with the other day.
I’m going to keep a sleep diary for the next few weeks and figure out if I’m correct in the 2-9 a.m. thing and adjust accordingly.
I will make sure that I take my vitamins, drink plenty of water (blech), and get my exercise.
I will practice good sleep hygiene, and get a regular bedtime routine down, and then I will reevaluate. My hypothesis is that I will discover I do have a delayed sleep pattern but it’s not necessarily a disadvantage.
I will track my normal habits and see what patterns emerge, and I’ll revisit this topic with an update in about a month.
I know there are other factors to insomnia, but I want to see what happens when I approach this from a physical standpoint. We’ll see…
So, are you a night owl or an early bird? An A person or a B person? Are you happy with whichever you are?
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