Sleeping in was a sin in my father’s eyes. Even as a teenager, no matter how late we’d been out the night before, if we weren’t up with the sun, Dad would treat us to an icy face wash.
The early bird catches the worm!
Laziness was not tolerated either. If we were ever caught lounging, we’d get:
What is this? The Horizontal Championship? Get up and do something productive!
So, I grew into an early riser, don’t-sit-down-till-the-works-all-done adult. Admittedly, there were many advantages to this lifestyle:
- Waking before the rest of the household was golden and highly productive time – no distractions!
- I was already trained for the sleep deprivation that comes with having babies.
- I would get more done in the first two hours than most people did all day.
- I gained a reputation as a dependable work horse.
Notice how I used the past tense above? That’s because ever since ME/CFS came into my life, all my sleep conditioning has gone out the window. Now, my days are primarily defined by horizontal time, as vertical efforts are exhausting.
If I am able to fall asleep before midnight, the night will be restless and deep sleep doesn’t typically kick in until closer to morning, usually just as my husband is waking up. This is the point where I start fighting with myself, Dad’s training kicking in. (I wrote about this struggle in the poem Harmonics.)
The thing is, sometimes in life, we just to have to unlearn what we once thought was gospel.
According to the Treatment Center for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), 10 – 12 hours of sleep plus naps are recommended every day until the patient’s energy levels are restored to a 6 on the Energy Index Point Score.
I fluctuate between a 3 and 4 on the EIPS and tend to sleep between 4 – 7 hours a night, which is a huge improvement over my previous record of 3 -5 hours. Although I spend a great portion of my day in bed, napping doesn’t always happen.
CFS, or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, as my doctor prefers to call it, is characterized by systemic exhaustion after any exertion. Whereas a healthy person can recharge with sleep, patients like me do not. Our battery is always depleted – think opposite of the Energizer bunny. It makes sense, therefore, that extra Zz’s are needed.
Bottomline: despite all my early training, I am no longer in the worm catching business; I am, instead, aspiring to win the Horizontal Championship. (Sorry, Dad.)
Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.