A form of fatigue
“Sadness is almost never anything but a form of fatigue.”― André Gide
This is the sort of quote that provokes a bit of skepticism in me, until I think about it closely. To verify that it’s true, or at least mostly true, I need look no farther than members of my own family – and specifically, to think about Jeff and me.
One of Jeff’s greatest strengths, and a source of his amazing stamina even over the past 18 months, is his absolute insistence on adequate sleep. At times he seems aloof, almost heartless, in his determination to put away the cares, sorrows and grief of the day (which lately have been considerable for him) and fall asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. During the worst hours of suffering related to chemo or surgery, his sleep was as impaired as I’ve ever seen it. But even through all that, I’ve never known him to spend an entire night without at least a few hours’ sleep, no matter what.
Not coincidentally, I’ve never met anyone who wastes less time on self-pity or sadness. In fact, it took me a long time to convince him that depression is quite real for some people, and I still don’t think he understands it completely, at least not in the same way that I do.
As for me…suffice it to say that sleeping well has never, ever been my greatest asset. Even when I try my best to get in bed at a reasonable hour, and even when I succeed, I don’t always sleep soundly. Insomnia has been my most consistent health concern.
I did learn the hard way, though, that insomnia– or even fairly mild sleep deprivation– predisposes me to all manner of gloom, sadness and depression. (Not to mention falling asleep at the wheel when I’m driving.) Having already had more of such than I want in one lifetime, I have learned to be fiercely protective of my sleep.
A few things I’ve learned: it’s best to turn off the computer in the early evening. It helps to eat Greek yogurt before bedtime. Delta-wave sleep CDs, sleep masks (to block out the light, even when it’s mostly dark) and a sauna session followed by a nice bath have all been remarkably effective for me, to my surprise. Not perfect, but better than a dependence on nightly medication. However, if forced to choose, I’d go for medication occasionally rather than endure more than a night or two of consecutive, refractory insomnia.
If you find yourself feeling down or more sad than usual, take a close look at your sleep. If it has been less than ideal, try prioritizing that for awhile, and see if a good bit of the sadness doesn’t resolve with that intervention alone. If you’ve got any helpful tips for us on how to improve sleep, including ways for those of us who are night owls to get ourselves into bed at a reasonable hour 😀 we’d love to hear them!
OK, as I write this, it’s 4:30 p.m. and I’m signing off the computer for the day (I hope) — pleasant dreams!
One year ago today: