People who have been reading this blog for a long time may know that I have often had difficulty getting to sleep. It is not unusual for me to go around the place feeling a bit sorry for myself because I feel tired. And I like to think I have become a bit of a master at coping having had just a few hours of sleep on the odd occasion when I have to get up earlier than normal. I don’t often get ill. But these past couple of days have been terrible.
I had an exam yesterday. That is the reason why I haven’t been able to blog so much over the past couple of weeks, in case you were wondering. Unfortunately, the exam was at 9:30am which meant getting up before 7am.
I know that lots of people have to get up at worse times and more often. I think it is easier to get up if it is just part of your normal routine though. I had to get up at around 7am more often in previous years and it felt like just a minor inconvenience rather than a full-on nightmare.
I am a night-owl as it is. Nowadays my lectures tend to be in late afternoon rather than early morning. I usually work in the evenings. So normally I don’t get to sleep until around 3am or 4am — and I don’t get up until around noon.
This is perfect for my normal routine, but when I am given one day — just one day — when I have to get up four or five hours earlier than normal, it is full-on panic stations time. Normally I try to get up a bit earlier every day, but it doesn’t really work. If I don’t have to get up early, I don’t get up early. I have tried all sorts of things like giving up coffee, but they never work.
Although I have done it before, I felt like I couldn’t afford to get to sleep at around 4am before having a vital 7am start. So I decided to get up at 9am on Tuesday morning, hoping that it would make me tired earlier in the evening.
Of course, that didn’t happen. I had awful trouble falling asleep, and in fact I finally dropped off at around my usual time — 4am. For a 6:45 start. The upshot was that in two days I had around 8 hours of sleep.
At first it felt okay. Not great, but capable. I suppose when you have an important exam you don’t really have the time to feel tired. You just have to get on with it. I felt that mentally I was fine, so I had no problems dealing with the exam in that regard, although my writing hand was tired, so it was a bit of a scrawl.
It started to hit me on the way back home. Ever since then, I have felt just about the worst I have ever felt. It was hunger, shortness of breath and a flying heart rate at first. Since then it has been indigestion, strange aches all over my body (particularly in my upper arms at the moment), a headache, loss of appetite, dizziness and — my favourite — inability to sleep properly.
I felt like taking a nap yesterday afternoon and ended up staying in bed until around 8pm. I got very little sleep during that period and when I did get to sleep — at around 11pm — it was the start of a highly uncomfortable night. I must have woken up six or seven times and my duvet felt like it weighed a ton.
I have often felt tired and lethargic, but everything that has happened to me before feels minor. Now I know what real sleep deprivation feels like.