Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sleep, glorious sleep. Sunday, November 7, 2010.

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.” ~Irish Proverb

Is there an invention more wonderful than sleep?

I like to sleep as much as I possibly can. I work a lot during the week; Friday I put in a 13-hour day at my job. But I make sleep a priority. I slept most of the day on Saturday, but after Friday, I feel like I had it coming.

Truth be told, I still feel sleep-deprived after my mixed mania episode a year and a half ago. One of the worst things about it was the relentless insomnia. Unlike “typical” bipolars in a “typical” manic state, I did not feel euphoria, I did not feel creative, and I did not WANT to be awake. Instead I lay in bed in a horrible state of anxiety, heart pounding, flying out of my skin due to the slightest noise. For months I eked out about four hours of sleep a night, and I don’t think it was deep sleep as I don’t remember dreaming during that time.

Even after I was put on the correct meds, it was a long time before I got back to “my” normal. I no longer view the bed (or the couch) as my enemy. I look forward to laying down, letting my body relax, and letting my mind tell me bizarre stories called dreams.

I’m lucky in that I don’t have a great many nightmares. My dreams are pretty neutral. Once in a while I’m being chased, and I’ll have to force myself to wake up. Occasionally someone has died, and I grieve not only in the dream but upon awakening.

In fact, I’ve noticed that often, the dream I’m having when my alarm goes off will set my emotional course for the rest of the day. Sometimes I don’t even remember the content, but I’ll wake up feeling confused or serene or angry or giggly or regretful, and I know it was my emotion in a dream – but I’ll still feel that emotion hours later. Does that happen to you?

Sleeping and dreaming are the subjects of study by many disciplines. No one seems to know exactly why we sleep, and even less why we dream. Theories abound, but the only thing everyone can agree on is that both are necessary physically and mentally. For the bipolar patient, sleep is extremely important because it wards off mania.

I took a nap this afternoon when we got home from church, and I relish the time because I don’t get to nap during the work week. When I was sick, I couldn’t nap – my body and mind were far too stirred up. So I’m incredibly thankful to be able to catch a few winks.

1 comment:

  1. You were probably dreaming even if you didn't remember your dreams - it's very unusual not to dream and a sign of serious brain damage (not being bipolar). Dreaming is related to dopamine production, which is related to BP disorder as well as schizophrenia - all connected. Did you know that people who are depressed get excess REM sleep - they tend to dream too much?