God Bless Naps (and melatonin tablets)

sleepjeanDuring this past year I’ve realised the beauty of the power nap. I have limited my daytime napping to 20 mins (30 if I am feeling particularly zombie-esque) and these power naps have saved my life! I don’t wake up groggy and grumpy like the four-hour sleeps I used to have, and I know I can recharge quickly.  Whenever I drive more than 30 mins I pull over, recline my seat, put my feet on the dash, set my phone to go off in 20 minutes and I’m out, waking up feeling refreshed and completely capable of controlling a motor vehicle. If I’m at a friend’s house and I feel like I’m about to crash I know a 20 minute nap is all I need to be able to re-access my ability to socialise. It’s like when you see the red line in your phone battery and ask if anyone has a charger on them – except I ask if anyone has a safe space for me to lie down.

The only problem with my propensity to nap is when I’m in public places… A few times I have just put my head down on the table/bar I’m sitting at and passed out. I’m sure I get weird looks but at the point that I’m willing to put my head on a sticky surface to sleep I’m not really caring. I’ve also been known to have a cheeky nap in the bathroom. I did this at a black tie wedding at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne last year. Wearing a floor-length red dress I stumbled to the bathrooms, sat down on the toilet lid, pulled my feet up so I could be in a ball, undid the roll of toilet paper and positioned it against the wall – hello Snoozie Susie! Not quite the elegant picture I’d had in mind when I got dressed that afternoon…


My dog TimTam likes to “help” me take a nap…

I’ve worked very hard to get my sleep cycle back to normal as the second half of last year was spent by me sleeping most of the day and the night and completely throwing out my circadian rhythm – in fact that’s how I often describe this: Jet Lag times 100. With the help of melatonin tablets – they are the bomb – I have got back to a pretty normal sleep cycle but the minute I deviate from the plan I’m gone. I went to the snow with my brothers a month ago (I was strictly a sipping coffee at the snow non-skier for the weekend) and because it had dumped down we didn’t get to the lodge until almost midnight. I just about fell through the door to get to my bed and was so happy to curl up in it, but what do you know – overtired Susan wouldn’t go to sleep. I think the combination of organising things for the snow and worrying about how tired I’d be and then the drive had taken it out of me, add on the late night and ping I was on top of the mountain and wide awake and somehow exhausted at the same time – what do you mean you want to sleep now? I was like an over-tired toddler who missed their nap time and was certainly not going to sleep now.


At least I got to wake up to this view once I eventually got to sleep!

But sometimes my penchant for napping is a bit worrying as it’s an easy way to hide. I woke up feeling very flat yesterday, and in spite of what I wrote in my last post I was not keeping a “delicate balance” in my head; the thought that circulated was, “what’s the point of getting out of bed?” Depressing stuff for 7am…

I lay there tossing and turning for another hour or so, trying to come up with reasons to get up but I knew the day was supposed to be an easy day, as I was going out that night. So, what awaited me once I was vertical and my eyes were open? TV shows I’ve already watched and food I didn’t feel like eating… I had bought some new books on the weekend and tried to convince myself I could get up to read one, but since I can only concentrate in roughly 20 minute intervals it wasn’t going to make the day pass quickly. Napping was much safer so I kept re-setting the alarm.

In the end my question was answered by looking to the end of the day… What’s the point of getting out of bed? Well, if you don’t get up now you won’t be able to sleep tonight. Off went the doona in the most energetic movement of my day and I was up and in search of a mug of tea. Because as crappy as being exhausted and grumpy and fatigued during the day is, it’s ten times worse to be lying in bed at midnight wide awake yet exhausted and stressing about how tired I’ll be the next day if I don’t get to sleep soon. So, up now and facing the pretty cruisy day, or up in the middle of the night watching infomercials?

Once I got up, imbibed caffeine and faced the world it turned out to be a stunner of a day with this view as I walked out the front door – worth getting up for? I think so! I slathered on sunscreen and sat on the verandah with a book that I barely looked at, enjoying the sun and the fresh air (a much better place to be rather than hiding under the covers of my bed).




4 thoughts on “God Bless Naps (and melatonin tablets)

  1. It always amazes me how difficult it is to get good sleep patterns in place with this illness and how little it takes to throw them out again. I have to be so much more disciplined about getting up in a morning and keeping the same sleep routine every day than I did when I was healthy. I really miss the days when I could sleep in till lunchtime one day and still be up with the lark if I needed to be the next. I’m glad you’ve found a routine that seems to work for you. I agree that powernaps at key points in the day can be an absolute lifeline.


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