To Sleep, Perchance to Stay the Fuck Asleep

I’ve been waking in the middle of the night again. Three nights in a row now, for reasons I cannot adequately explain, although the safe bet is that it’s either related to the apnea, or related to the treatment that keeps the apnea under control.

This is coupled with a tendency to wake ahead of my alarm. Not unusual, for me, but what used to be a habit of getting up fifteen minutes earlier is gradually becoming forty minutes to an hour. I wake up lethargic and irritable, like you do when something rips you out of the deepest parts of sleep, and it takes me a good half-day to shake of the effects of that.

In short, it’s the worst run of sleep that I’ve had for a while. A worrying one, given that the tendency to wake in the night was one of the earliest warning signs of apnea, way back when I first started to notice things were going wrong.

One of the things I’ve learned from dealing with the apnea over the last six months: when things go wrong, look to the ruptures in your habits.

It seems simple on the surface, but small changes or lapses in my habits tend to have big effects on my sleep quality. Get lazy with my diet and put on a few kilos? I’m going to pay for that. Change my regular bed time by twenty minutes? I’ll pay for that, too.

Eat certain foods I know better than to eat? Leave cleaning my CPAP gear an extra day or two? Store my gear in a slightly different way? They all impact on my sleep and my ability to function the next day.

Being aware of that makes it easy to tackle a problem, once it becomes clear there’s something going wrong. I run through the things I’m doing differently, alter those habits and see if things clear up.

As in sleep, so it is with writing.

I’ve been tracking time-spent-writing and word-count achieved for a bout a month now, courtesy of some manual processes and the use of tools like RescueTime, and it’s amazing how often what I used to call a bad writing day can now be tracked back to a change in habits.

Turns out, I’m remarkably consistent in terms of word-count: a handwritten page takes me between seven and nine minutes to write, often split into two short bursts. Factor in the gaps where I figure out what comes next, or check Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr, and I average about four or five pages an hour.

When I have a day where I’ve written less than that, it’s usually a sign that I’ve gotten distracted in one of those gaps and not come back to the story. When I have a bad writing day I used to beat myself up, but now I look at stats and figure out where I’ve leaked time like a sieve.

It all comes down to habits and gaps. The gulf between between what I want to be like and what I’m actually doing.

Leave a Reply