Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Benefits Of An Occasional Nap

One of the recurring themes in this blog is that I have problems sleeping. This is not that unusual for people who suffer with depression. For me the problem is normally that I can get to sleep at night but not stay that way for more than a couple of hours before I wake up and then can't get back to sleep again. After a few days I start to feel like a zombie and grumpiness is added to the feeling of being very low.

Sometimes the sleep problems manifest themselves in another way and I can't stop sleeping. I will sleep through the night and then keep sleeping through the day too. The problem with this sleep pattern is that nothing gets done; sometimes even eating is beyond me.

I have recently been cycling through these states which culminated in me not sleeping at all on Monday night. This meant that by about 9.30pm yesterday I could hardly keep my eyes open and I fell asleep almost immediately after my head hit the pillow. That would have been fine had I then managed to sleep through the night but I didn't I woke several times although I did manage to get back to sleep fairly quickly after waking. However, it did mean that while I had enjoyed the benefit of almost a full night's sleep, it wasn't necessarily good quality sleep, and this is what we need to enable us to function properly.

I have just woken from a nap. I didn't intend to have this nap, siesta, 40 winks, call it whatever you like, but it happened. After eating my lunch, I had this overwhelming urge to close my eyes so I lay on the bed and I was asleep in moments. I have woken again some three hours later and I feel refreshed, and my brain feels much clearer than it did after last night's sleep.

Lack of sleep was often a major problem for me when I was working and I developed the habit of switching the light off in my office (fortunately I had my own office) at lunch time sprawling out in my office chair with my feet on another chair and sleeping for half an hour or maybe a little longer. I found that I could manage the rest of the day so much better after this little nap and it allowed me to keep working for a number of years even when the depression was very bad. Had I not taken these occasional naps I would undoubtedly have had to give up working far earlier than I did.

So why do I now feel guilty about taking advantage of the opportunity of a little afternoon nap when it is obviously what I need at times, and my clarity of thought this afternoon is evidence of that?

Perhaps it is because we are British. Taking a siesta is a Continental thing; something that occurs in countries with a hot climate and is used as a means of getting through the hottest part of the day without exerting oneself.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I can tell you that I feel significantly better for having slept for a few hours and I am going to continue doing this if it helps me to feel better. I hope that I will still be able to sleep tonight (I think that I will) but even if I have another night of broken sleep, it is good to feel more alive at the moment than I have done for a long time. And it has meant that I have managed a second post to the blog today; something that hasn't happened for a long time.

1 comment:

Lily said...

Siestas are the way forward. Maybe it's why people on the continent live longer?!