Lately I’ve been sleep-deprived to a degree that, quite honestly, frightens me a little. I’ve been walking zombie-like through my days, and even a rare good night of sleep doesn’t help much. It’s not that I’m sleeping any less than I have over the last four years – it’s that I’ve been sleeping a lot less for four whole years. Tuesday I didn’t think I’d make it through the day, but I finished work, went to a doctor’s appointment and two grocery stores and finally stumbled home around 7:30. A mere six or so hours of sleep later, it was Wednesday morning. Very early Wednesday morning.
So yesterday, after I dragged myself out of bed and tried not to fall down the stairs, I made a decision: If I couldn’t be awake, I would pretend to be awake – all day long, no matter how tired I got. I took a shower, had a lot of protein for breakfast, pulled my head and my belongings together, plastered a smile on my face, and off I went.
Remarkably, it worked. I managed to be focused and relatively productive, if a bit slow, and slogged through the muck toward two deadlines. I experienced serious slippage around 2:30 or 3 (after my holy-shit-is-it-only-1:30? hiccup), but had enough food and tea to keep up a regimen of regular nourishment. Finally, it was 5. I got in my car and slumped home.
There’s been a lot in the news lately about how your attitude affects your life. A recent NPR contribution by a physician noted that if you can bounce back from adversity and embrace aging instead of dreading it, you can overcome – or enhance – your natural genetic tendencies and live, like one of his feistier patients, to be over 100. This month’s O magazine is all about living life to the fullest no matter how old you are.
By these standards, I should be dead before I hit 60. I’ve realized for a while that my attitude needs more adjustment than a couple of happy hours can provide. My sense of humor is a mere shadow of its former self. Part of my annoying negativity and snappishness is inherited (nature or nurture, I’m not sure which), part simply years of residual anger. Lately, I’ve put a lot of blame for my short fuse on my lack of sleep.
I’ve been letting my exhaustion get the best of me, but yesterday’s little experiment lends credence to those theories floating around. My insomnia might have caught up with me, but at least for a little while, I’m going to hope I can kill it with an Oscar-worthy performance.