Letting Life Lead
Do you wake up in the middle of the night feeling like you’d like to get up, but stay in bed because you are “supposed” to?
Do your babies and children wake up in the night wanting to play or hang out?
Do you wonder why everyone you talk to seems to have a “sleep issue”?
Have you ever heard of bimodal sleep?
I have been a night waker for as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories of waking up in the dark and not being able to go back to sleep. I was not allowed, however, to get out of bed, or turn on a light, or to wake up my mother or play or to move from my bedroom except to go pee. I spent many nights staring off into the darkness or buried under the pillows when I was afraid a monster might get me. It was worse in the spring and summer when I would be sent to bed when it was still light outside. I’d lay awake for hours then finally fall asleep, and then wake up in the middle of the night totally refreshed and have to lie there again unable to sleep. My nights as a child were not pleasant ones because my natural pattern went against what I was being told to do.
Finally, there’s documented historical and scientific back up to my natural sleep pattern! I’m normal! The rest of the weird 8 hour stretch world is wrong! Hahahaha!
When I started working my sleep hours changed so that I had to be up at 4am and not get home until after 10pm on some days. When I was in college during those days, you might have found me in my favorite spot in the library napping at all hours of the day. I had to nap to supplement the five to six hours of dead sleep I got at night. Those were very blurry years. When I moved to my own apartment and got a job that allowed me more reasonable hours, I began to settle into a natural pattern. I discovered that I am not an early riser, especially in the winter when it is dark. But I can rise early more pleasantly with the help of the Spring and Summer sun! My best days are when I get to take a short nap in the late afternoon (I am a big fan of the siesta!) and when I get to wake up in the middle of the night for a couple of hours and do my thing then go back to sleep. This is far better and far more refreshing than the bouts of insomnia that can leave me up for hours and hours because I am tired and yet can’t quiet my brians.
This knowledge about myself helped me to better manage and understand when my children wake in the middle of the night. This doesn’t mean things are perfect when they are going through growth spurts and I am exhausted from interrupted sleep, but it helps me to better manage and predict when the rough nights happen. It also helped me to work with the natural pattern when I started working nights and evenings.
Of course, I felt like I was a weirdo even though I was embracing the weirdness. Now when people act shocked when I say that my children don’t got to bed at 7:30 on the dot, I shrug my shoulders and say, “I work at night it makes no sense for them to go to bed at 7:30 only for them to wake me up at 5:00 in the morning when I am working until 11:30pm at night! We go to bed between 11:30 and Midnight.” We sleep the same amount of hours everyone else does, just in a different time slot. We all awaken at least once a night. While this is not an ideal window since we aren’t sleeping a natural time from sunset to sunrise, this is how we adapt to modern hours.
How about you? Are you a night waker?
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