If sleep has so many obvious (and essential) benefits to our health and well-being, why is it so hard to get? Everyday issues such as insomnia, the annoying dog barking two doors down, or even a snoring partner usually have easy solutions. My biggest dilemma, however, is getting myself to wind down and go to bed in the first place. That is, convincing myself that hey, you’re really not doing anything vital right now (though watching the end of that juicy Lifetime movie may sometimes feel like it), so curl up and get some shut-eye. What’s so hard to accept about something so sensible?
I suppose I can chalk up some of my (completely unfounded) reasoning on a few different trains of thought. The first: I’m not even tired! The second: I’m not a grandmother; I don’t need to go to bed this early! (at 2 am) Third: I’ve got things to do! Fourth: But what if something terrible happens, like my sister deleting this recording, and I never catch the end?! And the fifth, most absurd one of all: I don’t even need that much sleep. Five-ish hours (for the 10th day in a row) is plenty.
It’s not until that alarm starts shrieking at 7 am that I realize the error of my ways- again.
I wake up and wait for the familiar rush of negative emotions; that angry, zombie- like, I-would-sell-my-soul-for-just-ten-more-minutes feeling I have come to accept as part of my normal routine. If only I could bottle those feelings and keep them for reference late at night when I’m busy pinning (important) recipes I’ll likely never attempt and (important) exotic vacation destinations I won’t ever look into, I might have a fighting chance of breaking this bad habit. As it stands, however, I’m left with little more than coffee and regret.
Lack of sleep may make you feel terrible for a while, but I always assumed that all the warnings and precautions you read about in magazines or online were just another version of your mother’s hyped up advice- until this weekend. But as it turns out, some pretty crazy things can happen when you’re low on ZZZs; getting sick (duh), but also sick as in throwing up and dizziness (finals week a few years back was kind of enough to let me experience that firsthand), headaches, eye twitches, crazy dreams, and even sleepwalking. Yep, sleepwalking- not just reserved for zombies and that one weird girl at sleepovers anymore.
This weekend while on a little getaway with some friends, I WAS that one weird girl. And let me tell you, it’s terrifying. We had had a late night out and I had gone to sleep on the living room couch, a few feet away from the front door. The next thing I knew, I was lost, outside, with no shoes (still clad in a neon green t-shirt, mind you). It gets worse; I was disoriented and had no idea what to do or where I needed to go. I remember being completely frantic, hobbling down the unpaved road in bare feet and even knocking loudly on the door of a familiar looking cabin (that wasn’t actually the one I was staying at). It was also starting to get fairly bright out, which meant that anyone with eyes could (and might, for all I know) have been witness to one really creepy, lost, neon woman wandering around in a daze.
When I was woken up by my friends later that morning, I was safe and sound back on the couch. Chalking it up to simply being the most vivid dream on earth, I shared the details. It wasn’t until someone pointed out the open, unlocked front door (we had double and triple checked that it was locked before going to bed) and my blackened feet that I realized that the whole scenario had actually happened. I had slept walked for who knows how long, and given the circumstances, it could have turned into a very dangerous situation.
The hardest part to wrap my head around was not the actions of my sleepwalking adventure itself, but why it had happened- how? I am a light sleeper, who has never in my life slept walked or even slept-talked, so why on earth would this happen to me? After some extensive Googling, WebMD had some answers.
It is believed that sleepwalking may be genetic, but more common causes include: sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, stress, alcohol intoxication, ‘drugs such as sedative/hypnotics (drugs that promote relaxation or sleep), neuroleptics (drugs used to treat psychosis), stimulants (drugs that increase activity), and antihistamines (drugs used to treat symptoms of allergy).’
For many people, myself included, the majority (or maybe even entirety) of the above list of possible causes is simply a part of life- which makes it that much scarier. In addition, there are a host of medical conditions that could contribute to sleepwalking. Sleep apnea, nighttime asthma or seizures, fever, and psychiatric disorders are just a few on the list.
After all of the negative effects of not sleeping enough (both researched and experienced in real life), I’d say play it safe and get some more shut-eye. Pinterest won’t go anywhere- and hopefully neither will you!