Posted by: Judy | November 14, 2013

Sleep as a tranquilizer…

…or lack of sleep.

Team FrogLogic devoted two radio programs to positive scarring. Yes, you read that right.

David Rutherford advocates that scars are testament of the beautiful, amazing person you are. You made it through a difficult time.

One of his guests stated that the most important thing for battling PTSD is sleep, good sleep.

In all my studies to improve my health, I have never read anything anywhere that placed sleep as the number one change to make in your life. It was always an aside. “Well, of course, sleep is important…” Yes, it is, and more than we are willing to admit.

There are even quotes to sabotage our efforts to focus on sleep. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” “You don’t want to sleep your life away.” Sleep is often inferred to be lazy. Skipping sleep is idolized. Students brag about studying all night long. Doctors are expected to make sound decisions while suffering forced sleep deprivation.

Maybe it’s because doctors and the SEALs are put through sleep deprivation, the general belief is that everyone should be able to do something so simple. I mean at least for the rest of us it isn’t life and death. If SEALs can do it under all that pressure, surely we can. We forget how their everyday life, every moment, really is life and death. It also needs to be remember that not everyone who pursues medicine makes it as a doctor, and the majority of those who apply to become SEALs don’t make it.

An abuse survivor is raised under those conditions. Abusers make compliance a matter of life and death whether or not they plan on carrying out the threat. Years of training are difficult to overcome.

I’ve spent my life endeavoring to break the habits.

I’m not in the physical condition to be a SEAL or anything like what they do. However, it is in listening to the SEALs and those military personnel suffering PTSD that I finally hear something similar to what I live with but from a completely different point of view, so different, in fact, it almost feels new. Reading their accounts and what they’ve learned about PTSD, it allows me to step back, away from myself…

In a way, it’s totally foreign to me. I grew up without honor, without respect, without integrity, without a sense of doing something for a greater good. Then this horrible thing with which I’m completely familiar drops into the picture. I’m given a connection with honor, respect, integrity, work harder, don’t give up, others need you and depend on you not as prey but as an integral part of a team created to achieve a higher purpose, all these strengths denied me growing up.

Because of this pain connection, I am able to see how it is possible to live with the ugliness and still embrace all the good qualities that eluded me growing up. I didn’t know how. Now, I’ve found examples I can follow, without question because it all depends on me. No one will look back to make sure I’m there. No one will pick me up when I fall on my face. But they do hold their light high enough for me to see. It is up to me to scramble out of the mud and keep moving.

I’m grateful for my survivor friends and couldn’t make it without them, but honestly do any of us really want to be a member of this club?

I love that SEALs are protectors. No need to guess why that appeals to me.

Instead of breaking habits, I need to fine-tune habits.

Recently, SEALFIT ran a series about being sheepdogs.

I live in hyper alert, except when I’m using sleep deprivation to dull how much input I take in.

I’ve been practicing going to bed around eight, like a child. I wasn’t taught good sleeping habits, but I’m teaching myself. What better place to start?

I set the alarm for five in the morning, every morning but Sunday. Funnily enough, I still go to bed at eight on Sunday night.

Looking back at last week’s posts, I wonder if the real problem is the fact I’m sleeping better.

I forget that I use sleep deprivation as a tranquilizer. Hard to wind myself up when I’m barely able to stay awake.

Choosing to improve my sleep habits is going to be an interesting experience.

The last few nights, I haven’t been sleeping as well. My room’s too warm, even with the fan running. I’m back into sleep deprivation.

Fail.

What am I going to do about it?

Keep working on it.

God help me survive it.


Responses

  1. I sleep lots now, although there are times I avoid going to bed because I’m haunted by frequent nightmares.

    SEALS deal with deprivation to partly induce fight or flight. Sure their bodies adapt, but they also expect to, you know, die or something. I’m not sure I want to have the mindset of a SEAL. I don’t know what drives them to take on such dangerous work. While we like to think it’s noble, I’m not so sure. But perhaps that’s because growing up on “high alert” was awful and I can’t imagine good reasons for wanting to put yourself in that position.

    • Yeah, I woke up to a nightmare, this morning. Reminded me of another reason I choose sleep deprivation.

      Of the books I’ve read written by SEALs there is a common thread of wanting to test themselves, push themselves, reach beyond best. They don’t see themselves as noble or heroic. I think what appeals to me IS that they CHOOSE high alert. It never occurred to me it could be a good choice. If a SEAL can choose high alert, couldn’t I learn to see my high alert state as something other than horrible?

      • Interesting way of looking at it. Of course, that maybe assumes SEALS are more satisfied or happy with themselves/their lives when making that choice to be on high alert. I guess I don’t know enough about SEALs to say much more about it πŸ˜‰

        • LOL! Neither do I, only what I’ve read written by SEALs and their wives in books and on blogs, which is how my interest has grown. I could be completely wrong. Wouldn’t be the first or the last time. πŸ™‚

  2. I’ve used sleep deprivation to help me get good sleep – if I get so exhausted it will knock me out so I won’t remember my dreams or wake up to noises. Sleep as been an awful experience for me growing up. I couldn’t get enough and it was always interrupted. I think I learned to be on hyper alert and crash like you. It was a way to ensure I got some good sleep once in a while, an adaption in abusive households.

    I hadn’t thought about how some choose careers to be on hyper alert like the SEALs. That is interesting.

    I hope the sleep adjustments work well.

    xxTR

    • Yes, crashing meant not waking up startled or nightmares. It’s actually pretty funny, the timing of this. Last night, I didn’t actually sleep but fitfully for less than 2 hours between 4 am and 6 am. Eye roll. I’m going to keep working. It can’t actually be worse than what I’m doing now. At least it will be different. πŸ™‚ And if nothing else, I’ll learn something else that doesn’t work.


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