You know that whole lemon theme thing I have going on this year? Something about making lemonade and learning to appreciate the lemons? About that…
I am tired of being tired. While I am not going to bother attempting to calculate the lost hours of sleep since herniating my disc, I am quite certain I have lost more hours of sleep these past three months than I have over the past few years. Sleep has always been important to me, but weight training made adequate rest all the more valuable. Consistently missing out on sleep will mess you up in multiple ways.
Up until three months ago, sleep and I got along well more often than not. I have sometimes struggled to fall asleep early in the evening in order to get in enough hours of sleep before an early morning start to my day, but I have long made a point of positioning myself for at least 8 hours of sleep a night. There would be many nights where I would get 9 or 10 hours of sleep. Despite years of waking up before the rest of the city, I seldom found myself flagging in the afternoons. I could start work at 5AM, go to the gym at 4PM, and still be energetic and alert into the evening.
When I herniated my disc, everything changed. At first, it was the intense pain and physical discomfort that kept me awake. Those first days were brutal, and I would often end up in the living room for most of the night. The pain was too strong to stay in any one position for more than a few minutes, which meant that sleep was limited to only a few minutes at a time, if I was lucky. Prescription pain medication was supposed to make it easier to sleep but never quite lived up to that promise. As time has passed, the intensity of pain has ebbed and flowed. Once, twice, maybe even three times I have had a solid night’s sleep. Mostly not.
The pain is not gone. It has greatly diminished, but it is still there. The numbness in my left leg has likewise greatly diminished without being completely gone. When I lay down, I feel the most pain. I’m not even certain I can always call it ‘pain’ these days, because most of the time it is something less sinister. Less sinister so long as the description of something crawling or wigging beneath the skin doesn’t bother you! That sensation can be uncomfortable and it varies in its intensity, but it is a far cry from the pain I felt a couple of months ago. There are still occasional bouts of shooting or stabbing pain, mostly in my hip or deep within the buttock. And then there is the back itself. The back, despite being the source of all of my problems, has generally felt the least amount of pain over the course of these three months; however, there are still moments and days where the back does actually hurt. There is one spot in particular that has been feeling achy and sore for the past several days. Just enough to be a nuisance.
Where am I going with this? Sleep. I am not sleeping well. Despite frequently being in bed for anywhere from 8 to more than 10 hours a night, I am not getting adequate rest. Time in bed does not equally translate into time asleep. Like last night. I was in bed for 9 hours and 42 minutes, but I feel as if I barely slept. I laid awake for nearly 3 hours after going to bed, tossing and turning in a futile attempt to find a physically comfortable position. Once I did finally manage to “fall” asleep, I was awake every hour, almost on the hour, which would then result in more tossing and turning before gradually returning to what passed for sleep. I wake up sluggish and tired. I remain sluggish and tired throughout the day. My body tells me it could use afternoon naps, but my body also has this odd inability to nap in the afternoon. An early afternoon cup of coffee can’t stop the yawns at bay. This has been typical for me since moving past the stage of the physical pain keeping me awake.
Most of the time, I have nothing on my mind. No worries or stress. No flurry of thoughts. Sometimes the crawling sensation in my leg is strong enough to keep me awake for a while; sometimes it might be shards of real pain. Lately physical comfort seems to be a major factor. My shoulders are feeling cranky with sleeping on my sides, but any other sleep position presents other feelings of discomfort. I wonder if this is why I have an achy spot in my back lately, because I’ve been propping myself up a bit to keep the shoulders happy, even though it doesn’t necessarily feel the greatest for my back or neck. Taking forever to fall asleep wouldn’t be quite so bad if I was at least able to stay asleep through the rest of the night, but I can’t.
So where is the lemonade in three months of not sleeping?
Well, I wear daily contact lenses and my last purchase should have been used up by mid-December; however, I still have at least a month and a half worth of contacts sitting in my bathroom. With constantly waking up groggy and tired, I have been wearing my glasses almost exclusively. Even if I want to pry open my eyelids to pop contacts in, my eyes are so tired that the contacts irritate my eyes more quickly than normal. So, sleepless nights are saving me money on contact lenses! But I’d still rather sleep.