Clare’s Corner: The changeability of sleep patterns

Sleep comes to us in such unpredictable patterns that it’s hard to make it a priority

It’s incredible how unpredictable sleep can be.

One night, you sleep entirely through the night and are woken up by your alarm the next morning. The next night, though you haven’t done anything different that day compared to the day before, you toss and turn all night and wake up feeling like your eyes can no longer open.

It’s crazy how the seemingly little things can so drastically affect sleep patterns. You have some minor anxiety over something you have to do the next day? Not going to sleep at all. You exercised for the first time in a while? You’ll sleep like the dead. But you did that exercise in the evening instead of in the morning? You’ll sleep like the dead, but it’ll take you three hours to actually fall asleep.

Our minds and bodies are so temperamental when it comes to sleep habits. What time you go to bed, what side of the bed you’re sleeping on, if you’re sleeping on a bed or a couch or a futon; the list goes on. There are so many minor patterns and details that we have to adhere to for our bodies to have their best sleep possible. And even then, they don’t always do what we want them to do.

And then, on top of that, you often have to deal with dreams. Some are pleasant enough, but sometimes nightmares kick in, or you have dreams that are just unsettling for one reason or another. Or maybe you have the same or a similar dream several nights in a row. Now you have to find out what that dream means or it’s going to keep you awake trying to figure it out.

I think one of the best sleep feelings, though, is the rare moment when you can feel yourself falling asleep. Most of the time, you don’t notice it. One second you’re there, the next it’s morning or three hours later or however long your body is letting you sleep.

However, those rare occasions when you’re conscious of yourself falling asleep are simply fantastic. The absolute peace and stillness that comes with that moment is something that you just don’t get to experience daily.

But both that rare moment and sleep in general are things many of us take for granted.

For most of us, we’re constantly bustling and doing things throughout the day. Our bodies don’t get a chance to rest and restore themselves, and with our minds constantly going, too, our brains can keep us awake for hours at night, even if our bodies are ready to sleep.

I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling rested, even after what I would deem a good night of sleep. There’s always something that makes me toss and turn at night, be it something making me anxious, nervous, frustrated, etc.

And yet, if sleep is something that’s so important to our daily functioning, why is it something we’re so often willing to slack on and not prioritize?

Now, this could just be the fatigue talking, but I think that we need to start prioritizing sleep. Taking rests when you need it. Making mattresses more affordable so you can find the one you sleep on best. Taking multiple naps at work.

All these things contribute to your rest and sleep prioritization. (Please note I’m definitely being sarcastic on that last point. Only mildly sarcastic on the second one, though.)

With the unpredictability of how well we’re going to sleep on any given night, while I definitely don’t recommend taking naps on the job, I do think it’s important to capitalize on rest and sleep situations when the opportunities present themselves. Especially when you can never be sure what the next night’s sleep is going to bring.

— Clare Rayment, Kitimat Northern Sentinel editor


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