EDITORIAL NOTE: On yesterday's post, the link to The Elder Storytelling Place was coded wrong (my bad) and brought up a blank page. Here's a link to Marc Leavitt's poem, On Money, that does work.
Lately I have been facing dealing with an impediment to relationships with friends and neighbors that I had not imagined when I was younger - in fact, not even five years ago. The problem is lack of energy or, more precisely, energy at the wrong times of day.
(Before any of you go diagnosing me – and I am pretty sure none of you are Dr. House - I am a healthy 72-year-old with nothing more to plague me than a few of the usual minor ailments of age. Most of mine are of the chin whiskers variety.)
My energy problem is that mine no longer fits with how the rest of the world operates.
Most people function optimally from about 9AM to 5PM with a winding down toward relaxation in the evening. I, however, run out of steam before midday. Here is the reason:
Back in February, I told you about a new-ish affliction called ASPD or advanced sleep phase disorder.
Although I object to the medical establishment assigning the status of disorder or syndrome to difficulties almost as minor as chin whiskers (and this IS one of them), their description of ASPD precisely fits me:
”...a condition in which patients feel very sleepy and go to bed early in the evening (e.g. 6:00–8:00PM) and wake up very early in the morning (e.g. around 3:00AM).”
Close enough: I wake most days between 3:30AM and 4AM and sleep overtakes me with little or no recourse by 7:30PM or 8PM. On rare occasions I can resist the call to the arms of Morpheus if I have plans for dinner with friends. But I cannot do that two evenings in a row and I usually turn down last-minute evening invitations knowing that I cannot prepare both mentally and physically for them.
It's no fun falling asleep in the soup but in my wake/sleep cycle, your 9PM or 10PM is my 6PM or 7PM.
Morning meetings can be a problem too because if I don't finish writing the next day's blog post by about 1PM, it is agony to get my brain well enough in gear later in the afternoon to finish (as is happening at this moment because two meetings used up my Tuesday morning).
Further, when I am forced to stay at a meeting past 2:30PM or so it is soon apparent that although I understand individual words other people are saying, I'm not absorbing much of the meaning and my notes consist of one word here, another there without anything to help me make sense of the point later on.
This is as it was when I was still employed on the occasions when work ran into the evenings – I was just as stupid at 7PM or 8PM and later in those days as I am now by 3PM.
The only reason I can volunteer on my city's 50+ Advisory Board is that it meets at 8:30AM instead of in the evening as all other advisory boards do. On the rare occasions I have attended city council meetings that begin at 7PM, it's a waste of time – I spend the two hours trying to fight off sleep and so learn nothing.
For some reason, I've been shy to explain to people the reason I need to leave whatever we're doing by 2:30PM. I suppose I'll get to it soon enough.
I wouldn't mind the time differential if it were not so hard to live with the pressure to cram everything I need to do each day into the tiny time frame of five hours. I lose a lot of time because I doubt the neighbors would appreciate the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner or picture hanging at 5AM and stores don't open until 8AM or 9AM.
So this ASPD stuff is a pain in the ass but I have gained one small thing from it: an understanding of those ancient jokes about old people who are regulars at Denny's early bird special.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Karen Swift: Begging for Mercy