Napping

Before I write this I am going to take a nap.

Ok, I’m up.

I love napping and do it whenever I have time. Admittedly, part of it is due to depression. Part of it is due to exhaustion. Part of my exhaustion comes from depression. Part of my depression come from exhaustion. The two go hand in hand. Naps are usually during days off from work. There is simply no time when I am working. Naps make me feel more calm, tranquil and less anxious.

I think we are made to feel shame about napping. In this capitalist society, so we are supposed to be working every moment. We get to sleep at night, often for less than 8 hours, but napping during the middle day is often characterized as laziness.

Now, to be sure, some of my naps are likely too long. I wish they were 1-2 hours but they often go for 3-4 hours. But who gets to decide what is or is not too long? Napping can feel like an escape. But sometimes that is exactly what I need. My depression can often feel unbearable. Sleeping is a way to escape this pain for a few hours.

Napping is luxurious. It is like eating when you want and what you want. Napping is giving into your body. If your body is saying I am tired, it is time to give in and let it sleep. But this is not how the capitalist framework works. The capitalist framework is all about work, work, work. In this way, napping might be seen as a form of resistance to this framework.

I have a very specific framework when it comes to napping. I create a cocoon like environment to help me relax and to sleep. I close the drapes to make it darker. I light a stick of incense, usually Nag Champa. I light a candle, often to a Saint. Lately I have been lighting a candle to Saint Dymphna who is a Saint of mental disorders like depression. I turn on my little wave machine to listen to soft waves and I also turn on my little boom box to play New Age music. Then I rearrange the pillows and blankets so that they are comfortable. My dog Jamaica sleeps with me so she has to scratch around the blankets to make a comfortable little nest for herself. Then I put on my CPAP mask. Then it is time to sleep. Sometimes I’m able to fall asleep more easily than others. A lot of it depends on my frame of mind and how much anxiety I am feeling. If I can’t get to sleep I just breathe in the incense and listen to the waves and the music or gaze at the candle that burns. I rest, which is the next best thing to napping. Nothing feels better than when I go to sleep quickly and have a sound and nightmare-free slumber.

Napping is wonderful and I can’t say enough good about it. I think it keeps me more sane and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a way to feel more rested or as one method to combat depression or anxiety. I find afternoon and early evening naps work best, like between the hours of 3-7 pm, but other people will find other times that work for them. Naps are a great form of self-care and one that all people should consider if they are looking for some relief from tiredness or strong emotional feelings.

 

Sleep

I love to sleep. In fact, I love to sleep too much. It is part of my depression that I like to sleep too much and eat too much. Both bring me a tremendous amount of comfort.

My sleep though can vary from 6 hours a night to 10 hours a night. It all depends on how late I stay up. I have always been a night owl and someone who has preferred to get up later. I am NOT a morning person. For a long time in my life I got up at 12 noon. My parents would chastise me for sleeping in so late. I don’t blame them because they were already up doing work while I luxuriously continued my slumber.

More recently I go to bed earlier because I just feel so tired when night arrives. I go to bed from anywhere between 10 PM – 1 AM. I know proper “sleep hygiene” likes you to go to bed and get up at the same time every day but I have never been able to do that. It depends how tired I am and how long it takes me to wakes up. I am lucky that I have some flexibility with my work schedule. It also depends on what time I take my evening meds which is often not the same time and they help me to sleep.

Sleeping can very much go against the capitalist framework. We are not supposed to be sleeping, we are supposed to be working. Some people get 3-4 hours of sleep a night. And they are supposed to work 10-12 hour days on this much sleep. When you think about it, it is really sick. But this is what a capitalist framework looks like. It is based in brutality. The person’s body is not a body, it is a working machine. The human body is incredibly vulnerable and prone to disease. It cannot just exist as a working machine. It needs 8-9 hours of sleep per night and lots of time to eat, rest, use the restroom and do other things that are related to the body’s basic biology.

Not getting enough sleep is very bad for a person’s health. We know that getting enough sleep is one of the fundamental keys to good health. Now of course the amount that one sleeps is completely up to them. But it is also important to say that sleeping very little may have a price to pay. Think carefully about how much you wish to sleep. It could be a factor that affects physical, emotional and psychological health and wellness.

Sleeping is escape. It makes me feel better. It is restorative. And it is something we spend approximately 1/3 of our life doing! That is a lot of hours in a bed trying to get some good ZZZs. I understand insomnia as I have faced it, particularly before I started my cocktail of nightly drugs to help me to sleep better. As I sit and write this I am yawning incessantly and may need to return to bed for a nap. In my next entry I will be talking about napping and its importance in my life. In the meantime I wish you much enjoyable and restful sleep.

 

Sleep Apnea

According to the Sleep Foundation:

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. Another form of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more common than central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, or simply sleep apnea, can cause fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels. For people with sleep apnea, the combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation may lead to hypertension, heart disease and mood and memory problems. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of drowsy driving.

I was first tested for sleep apnea when I was in graduate school in Bowling Green, Ohio. I snored very loudly and also had very bad morning drowsiness. This brought me into the sleep lab, which is a bit of a challenging experience. You are hooked up to countless wires and then expected to sleep a good night’s sleep while they monitor you through one way glass. I had a heck of a time getting asleep, but apparently I was asleep enough to receive a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea [OSA]. I wasn’t surprised and fully expected to be told I had OSA. I then had to go back a second time where they hooked me up to a C-PAP machine to find the correct pressure to make sure that I was breathing safely throughout the night. It kind of sucked having to go to the sleep lab for two full nights. But I came up with a C-PAP that was calibrated to the correct pressure and was ready to use.

To say that it was difficult to get used to is an extreme understatement. The mask is uncomfortable and makes you feel claustrophobic. The air can escape outside the sides meaning constant adjustment due to leakage of the air. t can feel way too tight. I didn’t like it but I used it for a few years. Then I just stopped using it for a few years.

When I came back to NH, I started experiencing very bad morning sleepiness again and decided I need to get another C-PAP machine. Although my parents were in a whole other room with the door closed, they could still hear me snoring down the hall. In 2012 I went to Portsmouth NH and went through the same process with being hooked up to endless wires and expected to sleep. One positive change I can report is that they were able to do both the OSA test and the C-PAP test on ONE night. They did the OSA test for half the night and the C-PAP machine for the other half. This cut down the testing in the sleep lab from two nights to one, which I was very grateful for.

Since 2012, I have been faithfully using the C-PAP during the night. On Occasion I pull it off when I am barely awake or I don’t use it when I am taking a nap. But otherwise I use it and find that I sleep better and feel much less sleepiness in the morning.

A C-PAP mask is not a cute look but it is necessary for one’s health. I know there are many people who don’t know that they have OSA and suffer needlessly from it. While the C-PAP is inconvenient and somewhat uncomfortable it is still better than not using anything given the serious symptoms of OSA.