Having Trouble Falling Asleep? Join the Club

So, Monday was my first day back working in an office environment for well over a year. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s definitely going to be a struggle to get back on a regular sleep schedule.

The hardest part? Staying awake at work. My main problem is I’ve been unfettered by a 9 to 5 job for the last 14 months and could go to bed whenever I wanted — and trust me, I did. And that is complicating my life as a newly converted daywalker.

Vampire caught out during daylight
What is this fiery sky orb thing?!? It burns! It burns!

Schedules??? Schedules are for suckas!!!

After I left my previous place of employment, I really didn’t have enough time to deviate from my normal work schedule before I was winging my way across the Atlantic to the UK on Scandinavian Air to visit the relatives (I’d never even heard of that airline, but it was the only carrier I could get flights on using my free credit card air miles that didn’t involve 4 layovers and an overland trip by donkey — it was bad enough I had to endure a 12.5-hour layover in Stockholm on my return flight). Anyway, jet lag screwed me up for two weeks after my UK arrival and had me wide awake at 2 a.m. — but luckily I was there for about a month so I got onto a regular schedule — for England.

By the time I returned to Arizona, my international travel had my sleep pattern in flux (My 12.5-hour layover in Stockholm followed by a 4.5-hour layover in Newark definitely didn’t help). Arriving back home, I was all screwed up and primed to go back to my night owl ways from back in grad school — and slowly but surely it happened. Next thing I knew, it would be 3 a.m., 4 a.m. and even 5 a.m. or later before I’d hit the mattress. I finally had to put a stop to that nonsense — seeing the sun come up is disruptive and demoralizing, so I started trying to get to bed between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. at the latest, though not always successfully I might add.

Just call me Farmer Sean

My problem with a night owl schedule? In my younger days, if I went to bed at 4 a.m. I had no issue getting in a solid eight hours of sleep at a minimum and rising around noon — unless I was forced out of bed to go to work. But now? Now, I’m turning into my father. Apparently, some recessive gene has turned on that prevents me from sleeping past 7 or 8 a.m.* Doesn’t matter if I go to bed at 4:30 a.m. I’m up greeting the sun like a farmer.

*The Houseguest disputes this because sometimes I’m still in bed with my bedroom door shut when she leaves the house. Just because I’m awake doesn’t mean I HAVE to get up. Duh.

farmer in the morning field
Well, at least I don’t have to rake hay when I get up early

And on the 7th day, God created naps

But my screwed up sleep pattern didn’t matter for the past year. Because that’s what naps are for, right? God, I love naps — I can’t believe they were a fate worse than death as a kid. In fact, over the past 6 months, I’ve gotten in the habit of taking not one but two naps a day — and occasionally three. Usually one around 11:30 a.m. and another in the mid to late afternoon.

Oh, I’ve been a champion napper since college. I can nap anywhere. I once had a really boring job and little work to do, which made for interminable days. Luckily for me, our office was outfitted with really tall cubicles that almost enclosed you — it was very difficult for passersby to really observe you. Taking advantage of this, I trained myself to fall asleep at my desk sitting up. The key to my success was that I’m a sloucher and I sit ridiculously low in my chair, leaning back. So, one hand rested on my mouse making it appear like I was in the middle of working. My other elbow sat on the armrest while my thumb and forefinger formed an L to support my chin and head, which was intended to give me a thoughtful appearance to anyone behind me. At a glance, hopefully, I looked like a slouching slacker staring intently at his screen in deep concentration.

However, I wouldn’t be able to pull that off at the new job — we have short cubicles and I sit on the main floor with my back to the heavily-used glass-walled conference room. Plus the account managers sit perched above me in the mezzanine — they can’t see me sitting down at their desks, but they have been known to stand up and lean over to shout down to someone.

My backup plan? Suck it up, Buttercup

Man, I was in trouble. See, I tried to prepare myself mentally* to go to sleep early all that week before I was to start my job, but my daily naps were irresistible and my late night antics kept me missing my sleep deadline by a wide margin. The Sunday night before my first day, it was too late to modify my sleep pattern — I was going to have to do it the hard way and just tough it out sans adequate sleep.

*Again, the Houseguest disputes this — she says there was no trying involved. I say Pshaw!

A nice relaxing movie

That night, as it got later, I felt depressingly refreshed. To compound things, the Houseguest, out of character, suggested we watch a movie. Doing a quick calculation, I figured I had plenty of time to watch a movie and get in bed at a fairly reasonable time. Well, we had plenty of time until we tried to agree on a movie to watch. Then we spent the next twenty minutes scrolling through Netflix rejecting each other’s choices. (By the way, Netflix has a terrible movie selection for streaming — great original shows though). As we snidely denounced each other’s poor taste in movies and just as we reached the point of calling off Movie Night, I suggested we could rent a film through my Roku using Vudu.com. Unfortunately, I’d neglected to enter my credit card info previously, so I had to run back to the Man Cave and jump on my PC to rectify that.

After another round of vicious movie vetoing, we surprisingly agreed to watch Creed (which turned out to be a good movie). Things were going along well until the Houseguest realized the movie had a fairly long running time. She complained vociferously about how early she had to get up and wanted to know why I had picked a long movie. Apparently, if she didn’t get to bed by a certain time, she wouldn’t fall asleep. Naturally, I blamed the delay on her obstinately scrolling through foreign rom-coms (What’s worse than your average rom-com? One with subtitles. Yeah, call me a philistine, I’ll wear that badge). I didn’t want to hear any complaining because I had to get up way earlier than her. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it through the climactic boxing match and had to finish it the next day. So we retreated to our respective bedrooms after she had the nerve to ask me to bang on her door to wake her up. Actually, it’s a normal request because she’s able to sleep through the 5,000 snoozes of her alarm. Me and my recessive farmer gene act as a failsafe.

Well, this sucks

Anyway, I didn’t feel tired because it was three hours before my regular late-night bedtime, so I had a choice. Knock back a shot of whiskey to try and relax or take sleeping pills. I hate taking pills. However, I compromised and took half a dose of Tylenol PM so I wouldn’t be groggy in the morning. Luckily, it did help me to fall asleep sometime around 1:30 and then I was up at 7 a.m.

tired eyes
Not…gonna…make…it….

It was a long day without my customary two naps as I fought to bench-press my eyelids open all afternoon. But I made it. Barely.

When I got home, the Houseguest was watching the news, and I laid down on my couch to chat. Slowly, but inevitably, my eyes closed, and I slid into a drowsy half-sleep. God knows how long I drifted in that twilight state. The Houseguest kept telling me not to fall asleep or I’d be screwed. I mumbled and told her I wasn’t going to just so she’d let me rest. She kept spoiling my stealth nap by asking me sharply if I was falling asleep. I kept denying it until my snoring eventually gave me away.

Uggggh, now it’s 12:40 a.m. and I’m not sleepy at all and need to get up by 7:30 a.m. Why am I writing this stupid blog post instead of lying on my bed staring into the darkness? Probably because this is my natural time for peak creativity. Time to wrap this sucker up and schedule it. What a curse.

Nevertheless, no matter how late I end up staying up, tomorrow’s goal is to not get fired for falling asleep at work.

Sweet dreams. I’m off to bed to stare at the ceiling.

Update

Yeah, so last night sucked. I totally didn’t fall asleep and instead laid there tossing and turning. Not sure why, but I was a bit tense. Maybe it was the thought of having to fall asleep as the clock kept ticking its way ever closer to dawn. Anyway, sometime after 2:30 a.m., I finally broke down and took half a dose of Tylenol PM — that only gave me 4 and half hours for it to wear off, but it worked, and I finally nodded off. Tonight, I’m going to try and go to bed at 10 p.m. Okay, I just looked at the clock and that’s in 19 minutes, so that’s not happening. Midnight maybe? Wish me luck.

Oh shit, now it’s 12:15. Where’s that sleeping pill?

Do you have trouble falling asleep? If so, what methods do you use to help to drift off into slumberland?

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