Tuesday, January 24, 2012
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Posting this at a little before 7:40 AM. Tried to go to sleep but couldn't. For years now, I've been struggling with some kind of sleep-pattern problem. Normally, we all have a 24-hour circadian rhythm that tells us to sleep at night and wake up in the morning, right? It also tells our body to when to begin and to stop secreting melatonin, when to suppress bowel movement and when to turn it up again, all that. It's guided by environmental cues called zeitgebers, the greatest of which is light and darkness. The problem is that my circadian rhythm acts like it's on a planet where a day is an hour longer. Every day, I sleep an hour later than the previous day. With this pattern of delay, it takes me a few weeks to set my circadian rhythm back to any semblance of sanity. You can just imagine how disruptive this cycle is. For maybe a couple weeks every month I go to meetings with little sleep, fighting off the fatigue with coffee and cigarettes. When my body clock comes in phase with the normal ways of the world again, I stop acting like a zombie and wait for when the rhythm gets screwed up again. I'm only thankful that most of my work is done at home, where the delayed body clock isn't a problem.
The thing is, I just discovered that this is actually a chronic form of sleep disorder. It's called hypernychthemeral syndrome. It mostly affects blind people for obvious reasons. And, oh look, someone has a blog about it. I feel less alone already.