Monday, November 25, 2013
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
ABOUT Chronorhythm Sleep Disorders – Part I
Lazy Mary Will You Get Up?
You’ve probably heard that old nursery rhyme where the first sing-song verse admonishes Mary for being “lazy” because she is still abed, then sing-song Mary responds that, “No, no Mother she won’t get up. She won’t get up today.”
Um, just A BIT black and white perhaps?
As reflected in that early childhood ditty, from the point of view of a great many of the world’s larks, once they themselves are up-and-at-em, not only do they consider those of us still asleep lazy, their assumption seems to be that we intend to remain slug-a-beds FOR THE ENTIRE DAY!
At least that seems to the [lack-of] thinking behind the many ways in which they state their expectations to those of us who “refuse” to toe their normative expectation lines, demonstrated by bounding out of bed with the first rays of the sun, bright-eyed and ready-for-bear.
A little empathy and understanding, please
I’m wondering if their tune might change – even a little bit – if they understood that going to sleep and waking up at an hour the “majority-rules” universe considers decent isn’t as simple as it sounds for those of us with sleep TIMING disorders.
For many of us, adjusting our sleep timing to fit
majority-rules norms is a CAN’T, not a won’t.
Flip things around for a moment
Regardless of how many of you out-vote us on the “decent hours” referendum, we have as much difficulty adjusting to your sleep schedule as many of you seem to have adjusting to ours.
- Many of you say you get too sleepy to remain awake at hours where many of us are highly alert, getting things done, or finally getting into the flow.
Unless it’s New Year’s Eve when you insist on keeping to your truncate-tonight to rise-early-tomorrow schedule, we do our best not to call you names and judge your party-pooper sleep preferences.
I promise it’s no fun, night after night, to be the only person you know who is wide awake once the rest of what seems to be the entire world anywhere near your timezone has toddled off to bed. Life get’s lonely.
And mean. The expectation that we will be awake and alert once YOU have had sufficient sleep is annoyingly inconsiderate, actually.
It’s worse at the other end of the day as you tut-tut-tut yourselves off to bed when we are finally wide-awake and fully alert.
- The rest of you put yourselves to bed “early” with the realistic expectation that you will be able to fall asleep once you get there.
You seem to believe in your heart-of-hearts that little trick would work for us too, with seemingly no awareness of the reality that most of us have failed at our attempts at it many, many, MANY times.
Our brains and bodies are telling us that it is simply the wrong time to sleep!
- What if we insisted that you go to bed in the early afternoon,
hours before you feel the call to sleep?
A time or two to resolve your sleep-debt might be nice, but beyond that, I’ll bet you wouldn’t fall asleep, stay asleep or get restorative sleep either.
And I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t respond positively to our insistence that you stop in the middle of whatever you are doing to go lie down in a dark room with your eyes closed.
I suppose we could force you to lie there quietly for a solid eight hours — but you still wouldn’t get a solid eight hours of restorative SLEEP.
Your brains and bodies would insist that it was the wrong time for it!
THEN how would you feel?
How would you feel about life and about us when you opened your eyes in the wee hours of the next day to our scowling faces? What could you have done wrong in your SLEEP, right?
Would your groggy mind understand this logic? We are angry with you simply because you are not eager to bound happily out of bed when our clock insists that it is time for you to get up!
Would it make you feel any better, about life and about us, if we were to remind you forcefully that you WOULD have had enough sleep if you’d simply shut your eyes and counted sheep or something when we put you to BED!?
If you really tried to imagine yourselves into the scenario above, you’d have to admit that we’re a lot nicer to you about the sleep-timing mismatch than you’d be to us if the shoe were on the other foot!
The sleep-timing mismatch truth to tell, we’re a lot nicer to you than you are to us as it stands NOW – any chance we could improve on that sorry state of affairs?
Maybe if we take a closer look at what’s going on here . . .