Monday, January 18, 2010

Naps and Rechargeable Batteries

People with brain injuries (like me), have energy levels like cheap batteries. Pretty good for a little bit, then the energy drops off and your camera goes dead at the wedding of your only child. Sure, you could probably squeeze some more life out of the camera's battery, but the pictures you want are hard to take because the camera is malfunctioning. The zoom isn't dependable, the flash takes forever, it shuts down in the middle of the father daughter dance.

Without sleep, a day seems about 48 hours long (remember that jet lag you had coming from France?). Without sleep, my ability to form coherent thought breaks down. I start talking in pre-school sentence structures, and I have noticed that my voice gets smaller (so I am essentially a 6 ft tall four year old). I get a bewildered wide eyed look. Simple things confuse me. I know that I am not lacking in intelligence, but my brain just peters out on me. It's had enough. At first, you fight this. This is not a good battle to pick. Your brain will win*. Eventually, you learn the signs, and you learn to speak up and say "ok, this is enough, please excuse me, my head has called it quits". Not everyone will understand. That's ok. They'll learn.

So, we nap, sometimes quick, sometimes for 6 hours (!). Sometimes we wake refreshed, sometimes it takes me hours to get through the groggy mist of sleep. You know how some people aren't morning people and it takes them forever to get up and around? Try doing that twice in a day. And then try to get anything accomplished. It's frustrating. At the same time, it really pares down what's not so essential to you. Do I need to watch Housewives of Orange County? No, I need to go look at art...and take a nap.

There is a precarious balance between getting enough sleep and getting more than enough...which I think helps result in an inability to sleep at night...just making the whole cycle more vicious. About once every two weeks, I would try to go without a nap to kick-start my sleep cycle. This decision was made because I had probably lied in bed for 3+ hours the night before staring at the ceiling, anxious because I wasn't sleeping. I will say that with my new prescription, I have been able to sleep well.

So, if you are a new tbi person, naps are good. I know that seems to completely go against the all-American if-you-aren't-doing-something-useful-all-the-time-you-aren't-worth-much way of thinking. You have to learn to let that go and realize that naps are useful.

That was a lot of thinking, I'm going to say it's nap time now. Sweet dreams, y'all!

*I do believe I read this in Brainlash. It helped me out a lot.

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