Monday, May 10, 2010

Sleep Obsessed

I hate how I allow so much time to pass between postings and I hate just as much how I have begun the last several postings with that thought. But here we are again, much time has passed between blog postings and I will tell you why.

I am obsessed with sleep.

The last two weeks have been a blur of activity that have started with me getting up at 4:30am. FOUR THIRTY AM. April 24th began the Bird Sanctuary's migrating banding blitz. Two weeks of placing nets up in the hopes of snagging those long distant flyers. Two weeks of capturing Swainson's Thrush, Gray-Cheeked Thrush, Hooded Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler and those other birds that pause in St. Louis for a few days to a few weeks before continuing on to their breeding grounds up north and east.

The last two weeks have been divided into 2 phases. Light and Dark. Dark begins when I wake up and consists of rolling out of bed, stumbling blindly for the glasses, tripping over cats and tiptoeing to avoid waking a sleeping spouse. Dark also includes driving on an empty highway, remembering to slow down on a windy two-lane road to avoid hitting deer and then trying to see my way to the mist nets on a path in the woods.

By the time the nets are ready to go, the sun is peeking through the trees, entering the Light Phase. Light Phase includes 4 hours of mist netting, banding and examining a multitude of birds to determine their age and sex before sending them on their way. Light Phase also includes the rest of the day. Running errands, trying to keep up on the house work, medicating geriatric cats, eating, playing WoW, all the while trying to stay awake.

Here is where the sleep obsession comes in. Waking up is actually not the problem. It's STAYING awake that was sometimes difficult and I think part of it was psychological. This has now become a game. How long can I postpone the fatigue and the urge to take that nap? Sometimes the fatigue sets in as soon as I hop in the car after banding and thus begins the debate on whether to eat lunch first or take a nap first. If I struggle to stay awake while driving, the nap wins that day.

Other days, I postpone going home after work because the bed beckons as soon as I walk in the door, and I am a woman of weak will when it comes to naps. Of course, the longer I stay away from home, the more insistently the fatigue tells my body, my limbs, my eyes, my thoughts "YOU'RE TIRED. TAKE A NAP. A NAPPPPP."

When I finally get home, I play the "Well I need to do this first" game. Before I take a nap, I'll eat first. Well, then I need to stay awake long enough to let my food digest so I don't have heartburn later. Well now I need to do data entry (did I mention May 3rd began my prairie project? Yeah, so last week I was doing bird census on my prairies before heading to the Bird Sanctuary to mist net) before I take a nap. Well now the dishes are in the sink and I can't stand that so I better put those in the dish washer first...

All the while I'm playing this game, my brain is saying "I'M SO FRICKING TIRED I CAN'T THINK! TAKE THE NAP!!!"

I usually rage back at the fatigue. "NO. OMFG WOMAN YOU'RE ALWAYS TIRED. GET OVER IT AND SUCK IT UP!!"

The inward whining and raging continue on for awhile before the nap wins or I find something else to do. Every day. The problem with the naps is that sometimes I wake up feeling more fatigued than when I originally laid down.

But my body is beginning to adjust to this crazy schedule. I'm in bed by 8:30pm and waking up a minute or two before my alarm. I usually hit two brick walls. Noonish and again around 7-7:30pm. By 8pm I get into my jammies and go to bed, despite the fact that I'm missing my favorite TV shows and maybe leaving some social activities early.

Honestly I don't know what to do about the fatigue because when it hits around mid-afternoon, it hits hard. The house is a disaster, the yard is a jungle, I'm ignoring some of my friends because I'm too tired to do anything beyond texting or email, exercise class is still hit-or-miss and I feel like I'm missing out on life because I'm too tired to be social.

My job is worth the challenges of adjusting to this new sleep schedule. Dawn with a mist on a tallgrass prairie is beautiful and you can't match the jubilant chorus of the birds during that time of the day. I will adjust. It only has been 2 weeks and this is giving me lots of material to work with...lots of whining and blogging.

But seriously, if anyone out there has any words of advice to beat the mid afternoon sag, I would appreciate the words of wisdom. I'm going to be getting up 430am all summer. I need to adapt.

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