Sunday, November 16, 2014

My testimony of sleep

I have hit the bottom of the pool.

I was in class last Tuesday night when we were treated to a guest lecture by Ally Isom, who impressed me solidly after I misjudged her dismissively.  There were a lot of things she said that brought hope to my heart, though they were mostly regarding the women's initiative she was hired to coalesce throughout church headquarters, and that's not a topic I'm organized enough to address responsibly.  The one thing she did say that struck me hard was "when people get enough sleep they are brilliant."  I've been hitting major writer's block walls with my thesis lately.  Nothing I write flows well even through one paragraph, let alone into the next.  My brain is skittish and cannot stay on one track very smoothly.  And you know what?  I haven't managed to string two decent nights' sleep together in at least the last 6 months.  I have consistently tried to function on around 5 hours of sleep since I started school last year.  It's official.  It has caught up with me.

I'm functioning on about 10% in lots of ways.  I've failed to keep the people I've met in our new neighborhood and ward straight.  I often have a hard time distinguishing between important points and minutia.  Lunchtime and dinnertime sneak up on me every day.  I'm just not a very good version of myself.

At this point I wonder whether it'd be worth it to devote a large block of time to addressing my sleep problem at the expense of school time, in hopes that I'd make up for the lack of time with increased productivity.  I'm having half a moment of sympathy with Katharine Hepburn's brand of atheism when she'd say "Don't tell me there's an afterlife.  I just want to rest when I die.  Just sleep and do nothing forever." [1]

All things in moderation though... I'd get sick of just sleeping much faster than I've gotten sick of not sleeping enough.  

But when I heard Ally say that – it connected a lot of dots inside of my head.  “Oh yeah, that’s why my thesis writing is going slow as tar.”  I’ve known I was “burnt out” for a while now, but hadn’t gone so far as to say “I cannot think clearly enough to write well because my brain is starved for sleep….” Hadn’t occurred to me, because… well… sleep deprivation.

My opportunities for addressing this are not super promising, as I’m staring down writing deadlines and my comprehensive exams.  (Seriously, this Christmas season is going to be the biggest bummer of my life… my comps aren’t until December 20th, which leaves me how much time to put my heart into festivities?)
But I’m realizing I have very little choice if I want my thesis to be anything more than drivel.

[1] - and I know I mangled the quote.  Also, don’t worry mom.  I’m sympathizing with the exhaustion sentiment, not the aetheism sentiment.

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