Actually, since last Lent. We’re well beyond 40 days now.
For the past year or so, John has only slept in three-hour spates. Sometimes he sits bolt upright in a panic, fearing being late for work or forgetting something. Sometimes he wakes up and raises himself slowly to loom over me so that he could see the alarm clock and find out what time it was (which, in turn, causes me to sit up in a panic or to dream about someone standing over our bed). Occasionally he’ll just toss and turn. On top of all that, he generally wakes at 5:30am and dozes fitfully thereafter. We can’t even blame Katherine for this, as she sleeps solidly and consistently.
Anyone who has shared a bed with another person for any length of time will appreciate how integrated the sleep habits of two people can become. When one of them modifies their rhythms, the other person either adapts or suffers or, like me, does a bit of both.
We’re not sure precisely what triggered this. Part of it is probably physical; the car accident he was in last year has had a lasting impact on his neck and shoulders. Part is undoubtedly psychological and work-stress related. At this point, a large part of it is also likely habit.
Thus far we have tried the following:
- a second alarm clock to forestall the “I’ll be late for work and fired” fear
- regular exercise
- decreased caffeine
- various painkillers, from Advil to Anaprox
- heating pads
- mental relaxation rituals
- elimination of work-talk from the later evening and from the bedroom entirely
- blackout blinds (in case the light was an issue)
- increased exposure to daylight during the day (to help the melatonin-circadian thing)
- increased family relaxation time (including the adult variety)
- Benadryl & Neocitran (make you drowsy)
- career counselling for stress (lawyer-specific)
- in-depth hunt for possible underlying stressors
- new pillows (including an Obusforme one which was actually worse)
- mantras for relaxation
- earplugs (no-go. He hates them.)
None of it makes any profound difference.
If you have any solutions for two people who haven’t had a good night’s sleep in about a year, please tell me. By my best calculation, I’m about 950 hours behind, losing on average two and a half hours a night. Give or take.
I suspect that this is actually a common thing among lawyers and people in high-stress jobs. If anyone has any suggestions, send ’em on. I’m almost to the point now of asking him to try medications of some sort to train his sleep habits back to normal again, but I’d welcome any other thoughts.