I have been averaging about 4.5 hours sleep every Tuesday and Wednesday night for the past year or so.
Needless to say, this makes me an irritable SOB the next day, snapping at my co-workers, downing gallons of coffee to stay awake, becoming whiny, and childish, and basically hard to live with.
So, I went surfing - the Internet, not the waves. And I came across an article from the Mayo Clinic that talked about common causes of sleep disorders. First let's define the problem. Insomnia is defined as:
Inability to get enough sleep at night
Difficulty falling asleep at night
Waking up during the night
Waking up too early
Waking up feeling tired, even after a full night's sleep
Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
Okay so I have all of those. So I guess that means I have insomnia right? Okay Dr. What's next. Some of the causes are:
Stress - hey man, I live in Washington,DC. Stress is part of the landscape, like grass. Have you ever driven around here? I do notice that it usually takes at least two or three days away from this hell hole to feel my body let go. Most of the time I walk around in a perpetual "fight or flight" mode.
Anxiety: Would that count the in-laws visiting with their horrid little dog pissing all over my house, not knowing what's going to happen next at my job, wondering if I am still supposed to be at that job. Wanting to get out of here, wanting to chew my arm off in order to get free? Maybe not that last one, but close.
Stimulants: Hmmmm. That would count the several cups of Starbucks (or homebrewed) coffee that I drink each day because I don't get enough sleep, wouldn't it?
Change in your environment or work schedule. Now let's see. I work two days a week from early morning till after dark. I work two more days from mid morning to late evening. Then I get up early to go to church - to play music, sometimes music I have never seen before and I only get about 40 minutes to practice before it's showtime. Hmmmmm. Maybe that could come under "anxiety" or "stress."
Environment? Would that count the massive changes that have taken place in my work in the past year? And could they be exacerbated by the constant complaining - some of it by me - that the management doesn't have a snowball's idea in hell what it is doing? My brother calls it "the dark chorus" when people complain. And he says not to join them, but sometimes I agree with them!
But those decisions are things beyond my control. They are things over which I have very little say -- those big policy ideas. All I have a say in is how I respond to them. That sounds very helpful and therapeutic, but the fact of the matter is most of life is not lived on the left-brain, cognitive behavioral level. Most of life seems to come more viscerally.
Depression is often associated with sleep trouble. Some of the signs sound familiar.
Sleep disturbances. Sleeping too much or having problems sleeping can be a sign you're depressed. Waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep are typical.
Impaired thinking or concentration. You may have trouble concentrating or making decisions and have problems with memory.
Significant weight loss or gain. An increased or reduced appetite and unexplained weight gain or loss may indicate depression.
Fatigue. You feel weariness and lack of energy nearly every day. You may feel as tired in the morning as you did when you went to bed the night before.
Low self-esteem. You feel worthless and have excessive guilt.
Thoughts of death. You have a persistent negative view of yourself, your situation and the future. You may have thoughts of death, dying or suicide.
Of course this could also be a sign of burnout:
Ask yourself these questions to see if you're experiencing signs and symptoms of burnout:
- Do you find yourself being more cynical, critical and sarcastic at work? Yeah, so what!
- Have you lost the ability to experience joy? Joy, what's that?
- Do you drag yourself into work and have trouble getting started once you arrive? I have to wait 20 minutes for my butt to catch up once I drag into work.
- Have you become more irritable and less patient with co-workers, customers or clients? You mean those ass****s I have to be around every day!? >: - (
- Do you feel that you face insurmountable barriers at work? What size is your glass-ceiling covered pidgeon hole?
- Are you tired of your co-workers asking if you're OK? They don't ask so, no.
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?You have to have an illusion to lose it. Yeah man where you been?
- Are you self-medicating - using food, drugs or alcohol - to feel better or to not feel anything when you're at work? Hey man, where's the brownies!
- Have your sleep habits or appetite changed? see above.
- Are you troubled by headaches, neck pain or lower back pain? Do the two permanently hard knots in my shoulders count?
So maybe I have answered my own question. Pray for me.