Rest, or sleep, is a make-or-break deal in my world. In my 20’s it seemed ridiculous to waste good party hours sleeping. I used to think nothing of going to bed the next day in the wee hours, waking up a few hours later, showering, and heading to school. Sleep was what you did on the weekend, or out of boredom.
When I had kids I was gifted with a child who could sleep no more than 2 hours at a time. I consulted sleep specialists, saw public health nurses, kept sleep logs, read books that made me feel like I was a bad mother, and generally really struggled. I never appreciated sleep so much as when it was taken away from me and the lack of rest manifested itself physically. Days upon weeks of sleep deprivation really can mess with the mind and body. It’s no wonder this is used in torture. Feeling so physically ill can make you want to lose your mind; you’ll trade anything for a few hours to close your eyes.
Sleep deprivation leaves you confused, stressed, forgetting the names of everyday objects, and encourages hallucinations. It’s not a fun place to be — the party is already over when you are sleep deprived. Although I am generally an early-riser, I think my cells have been imbued with a fear of sleeplessness. Even a half hour less sleep a night leaves me with nausea.
I used to think that the ultimate way to recharge would be to get sick and go to the hospital. It would have to be a sickness that kept you somewhat immobilized but had very little pain, so mostly what you could do would be sleep, eat, rest, and watch shows. None of this is even remotely close to any sense of truth. A few years ago I had an ovarian cyst rupture as I was on my way out for a run. I made it as far as the bathroom and after realizing I was sweating and in considerable agony thought perhaps I would skip my run and go home instead.
After a few hours of convincing (me) my husband packed me up and took me to the ER. He specifically said I shouldn’t downplay how much pain I was in. When they let me in before the guy puking into the garbage I thought maybe something might be wrong with me. Turns out I’ve had this happen a zillion times before, but it had never been diagnosed. Although I didn’t need surgery it was the largest cyst the specialist had ever seen that ruptured and healed on its own. I had to spend almost a week in the hospital, though, as my iron levels tanked so badly I would pass out trying to prop myself up on a pillow. It was not rejuvenating or relaxing or anything prefixed with “re.”
These days I go to bed early. My daughter does sleep. She is more of a night-owl and grumbles whenever someone wakes her up “too early.” I am no longer getting up in the dark to go and run before sunrise. So far (fingers crossed) I have also stayed away from hospital visits as it is not a place I’d willing visit, nor is it a place you get much rest. I go to bed early because there is such a thing as beauty sleep.