Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sleeping Giants

I feel like I said everything about sleep last month, which is the kind of thing I say before I horrifyingly drill down into A LOT MORE that I have to say. One thing that I've been threatening to do for years is write a series about how each of the giants... or sharks... or giant sharks... support each other, maybe this month is going to be about how all the other giant sharks support the sleep shark. No seriously, I need a word. For all this ::waves hands:: infrastructure. But not infrastructure or giant or shark. Or button, which I have tried out before. Because I have this sleep routine, right? And like 4/6ths of the routine involve other [giants]; the only ones not represented are sleep itself and nutrition, the former because remember how you can only grab the sleep end of the stick with a stick [sticks? Is the word stick?] And the latter of course is hella involved with sleep, but throughout the day: you generally sleep better when you're well-fed and well-exercised, you get that right? But also nutrition has been part of my bedtime routine by exclusion, i.e., stop eating three hours before bedtime, and then there was an exclusion to the exclusion, because late practices definitely meant exercising and eating well past 11:00 PM so I consciously uncoupled myself from that part of the routine until such time as I was ready to choose otherwise; and that time is now, so I shall pay a little mind to that this week.

Okay so, that's going to be the theme of this month's [Shark] Week. [HELP MEEE!]

OKAY BUT, do you want to see my sleep scale? You do, right? You want to see it and then back away slowly, okay yay. Because science! Way back in the day when I produced theater, I introduced this concept of "counting" to these artists. Like butts in seats, not so much how much you feel loved. Listen, I do think feelings are awesome. And actually I'm horrible at counting, it's hilarious that two major parts of my job as a trainer are a) providing a musical soundtrack, and b) counting, I pretty regularly wonder if my clients notice the long pause after 5 as I struggle to internally confirm whether 6 (?) is what comes next. Sometimes it just doesn't sound right! Oh also, c) I also have L-R confusion. Somebody make a movie about me, I'm like the Eddie the Eagle of personal trainers. You don't have to be anti-feelings and pro-counting, or pro-feelings and anti-counting! You can feel and count AT THE SAME TIME, or you could if you could count in the first place. Man, I can count. I just have to think about it. Anyway, I like my feelings with a good underpinning of counting. Feelings tend to fly away otherwise, and then that becomes a thing itself. Trust me, you don't want to get carried away just thinking, ah, I sleep for shit. You gotta wade in there and sort your shit out. I mean, *you* don't gotta do anything you don't want. Can we agree that when I say you, I'm talking to myself? Except sometimes I'm talking to you? But I'm mostly talking about myself, to myself, in my glass bathroom. Anyway, counting. Counting sleep. So first, I'm counting the quantity of sleep that I get, eight hours is good but nine is better. I usually eyeball the clock before I settle into Planet Earth, and then estimate based on how much more I know about the spectacled caiman. I mean, I did finally get past the spectacled caiman. Sometimes der schweetums quizzes me, "did you get to the chimps?" and usually the answer is What chimps. So, I am falling asleep in 10 minutes or less. This is great, during the dark time this was measured in EPISODES, how many episodes was I awake for before finally passing out from utter exhaustion. So, that's great. So then, time when I wake up minus estimated time when I fell asleep = sleep quantity.

But second, how fast I fall asleep is one of the two metrics I use to measure the quality of sleep I get, which is just as important: there's delay, and there's interruption. Obviously what I'm going for is undelayed, uninterrupted sleep. Now, I've read enough articles that interrupted sleep is not necessarily a bad thing, and I am kid gloves about sleep and I don't want to plant an inception seed that if I wake up in the middle of the night it's BAD, and I especially don't want to plant that seed in the middle of the night o.O I repeat to myself that's it's fine to wake up in the night as long as I can get back to sleep without delay, or I did when I was pretty regularly waking up in the middle of the night. I think what helped with getting back to sleep without delay, actually, was not being filled with despair that I was awake AGAIN at four in the morning and morosely launching Netflix, but having prepared a little calm story like you're okay, you can get up and pee half asleep (man I talk about peeing a lot in this blog) and get right back into nice warm bed next to nice warm schweetums, close your eyes, snuggle... zzz. I mean, that works so much better than Criminal Minds.

So my sleep scale isn't for judging, it's just structure, which incidentally how I feel about the J in Myers-Briggs (but that is a topic for another time, perhaps):

5 - good - undelayed, uninterrupted sleep
4 - not bad - undelayed, interrupted undelayed sleep
3 - not half bad - delayed, uninterrupted sleep
2 - not half good - undelayed, interrupted delayed sleep
1 - not good - delayed, interrupted undelayed sleep
0 - bad - delayed, interrupted delayed sleep

Now, who decided what order to put these combinations in? I did. By waking up in the middle of the night and feeling out whether this felt not half good or not good, and that is all the authority I need for myself. Which ideally is somewhat less than the authority you need, now I really do mean you. I'm not the authority on you, much less over you. My idea of heaven is that you're the authority on you, but that's not up to me either.

But enough about you, let's talk about meee. Do you know why I write this blog? So that if I do see you in person, all this is out of my system and you can have my undivided attention. Or you could if I were sleeping better, I suppose the silver lining this past week has been that I've been able to sort out the bottom end of this scale. February was like all 5s with only the occasional 4, where not bad is still an okay thing to murmur yourself back to sleep with. Still though, weighing the finer points of not half good versus not good is a better narrative than snowballing straight to hell and certain snowball death. I've been reading Peanut Butter Fingers about how she's sleep training her baby and how she waited until he could self-soothe, I think this also applies to adults. I think that's really what I'm working on here; maybe self-soothing is like squats—a thing we learned how to do when we were babies, but forgot we could do. But now I remember, what do you do when you feel lost? Well, call a friend. What if your friend is sleeping though, then what. Draw a map maybe, is what this is.