As I explained in Part 1 on Monday, for four months this year, I tried to function on two to three hours of sleep a night. This was due to the sudden onset, sometime in January, of a nightly crescendo of horribly loud noise from the apartment adjacent to mine.
The snoring was operatic in scale, volume and duration and there was nowhere in my home to escape it.
My life and routine became disjointed. I was exhausted pretty much every waking moment and lack of time became a big issue.
What one normally accomplishes in a full 12-14 hour day, I needed to cram into the morning hours before I ran out of what little steam I had. You can imagine that I never got anywhere near completing the goals of my daily to-do lists.
Looking back now, I think that for a long time I was so mentally impaired that I did not recognize how distorted and diminished my life had become.
Also, it seemed to be something I wanted to keep a secret although I don't know why. But I didn't tell anyone except two or three good friends and then only toward the end of the ordeal.
Finally by May, it felt like my world was falling apart. I was desperate for relief, desperate to sleep.
One afternoon about two weeks ago, I spoke with the condominium association. I explained my situation and asked if there was anything that could be done about the epic snoring.
After a week, they got back to me. Apparently, I was told, anyone can make as much noise within their home as they want. There is no recourse. However, neighbors of this snorer were approached, my problem was explained and it was hoped that they would then get the message back to him.
Maybe that worked. About six or seven days ago, the snoring stopped. Well, I don't know if stopped but it is no longer being transmitted through the wall into my apartment.
That first night with no snoring, no being shocked awake after a couple of hours or so, I slept for an uninterrupted 10 hours and nearly as long in the days since then.
The difference in my physical and mental capabilities now is amazing. I would almost call it euphoria from just being normal again. I'm thrilled at how I good feel and from this point forward, I will never again take being rested for granted.ADVANCED SLEEP PHASE DISORDER
There is an additional bit of complexity to my sleep problem that pre-dates the snoring issue.
It took me years to find out why I couldn't stay awake later than about 7PM or 8PM. It is called Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder or ASPD and I first wrote about it here.
It is rare, it affects mostly old people, one percent of us, they say, and it means I irresistably fall asleep in the early evening (which does make dinner with friends difficult). Then, of course, I would wake at ungodly early hours – 2AM, 3AM or thereabouts.
Some time after I discovered what ASPD is, I began waking after only three or four hours – wide awake, ready for bear, no going back to sleep. I struggled to do so but after awhile, I gave in and read a book or watched TV for awhile or puttered around the house until I felt sleepy again in a couple of hours.SECOND SLEEP
I recalled having read somewhere about second sleep and found it again in a book, At Day's Close – Night in Times Past, by A. Roger Ekirch.
There is growing evidence, Ekirch explained, that for centuries, maybe thousands of years, the normal sleep pattern for humans was in two parts:
“Both phases of sleep lasted roughly the same length of time, with individuals waking sometime after midnight before returning to rest...Men and women referred to both intervals as if the prospect of awakening in the middle of the night was common knowledge that required no elaboration...”
“After midnight, pre-industrial households usually began to stir. Many of those who left their beds merely needed to urinate...
“Some persons, however, after arising, took the opportunity to smoke tobacco, check the time, or tend a fire. Thomas Jubb, an impoverished Leeds clothier, rising around midnight, 'went into Cow Lane & hearing ye clock strike twelve' returned 'home & went to bed again.'”
Since Ekirch's book was published in 2005, more references to segmented sleep have turned up. The earliest (so far) is from the Greek poet, Homer. In The Odyssey, he wrote, “In his first sleep...”
A Harvard website on sleep notes a contemporaneous report that Napoleon (1769-1821) slept
”...just a few hours at night before rising at about 3AM to work. He then typically takes a hot bath and returns to sleep for a few hours in the late morning.”
Most researchers I've read recently are coming to believe that this was the norm until the advent of electric lighting allowed people to be active much later in the evening than ever before and humankind switched to one long sleep cycle.
Since nothing I had tried kept me from falling asleep much later than early evening, I made segmented sleep my own. Until the snoring problem, it had worked quite well for me.
I would wake sometime around midnight, read for a while or get up to write or watch a movie until getting sleepy again within 90 minutes or a couple of hours.
As I mentioned above, I am currently sleeping much longer, presumably making up for the long deprivation. But as soon as is practical, I will try to get back to my routine of a segmented sleep schedule. Oh, wait. And lose those damned 10 pounds that was so hard to do as part of my 40-pound loss two years ago.
Thank you all for your commiserations on Monday and your concern and those who pretended to not notice the fall-off in the quality of posts here. I appreciate you all.
Not that I am out of the woods yet: I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the snoring guy isn't just on vacation.