The Exigent Duality
Eureka - 18:36 CDT, 4/30/17 (Sniper)
I'm on year five of basically permanent, utter mental exhaustion, trying to solve my sleeping issues.

First I was told that I had apnea, since I was hideously obese. So, I lost 85 lbs, removing any hint of snoring, and... no effect at all.

Next, I was told that I shouldn't drink caffeine before bed. So, I cut it out of my diet, and... no effect at all.

After that, I assumed I was sleeping poorly because I had such extreme anxiety issues. So, I spent a year in therapy, switched jobs at work, and have consequently almost completely eliminated my anxiousness. Did it improve my sleep? Nope-- not a bit.

My next idea was to exercise better "sleep hygiene"-- reading before bed, having a regular bed time, not watching anything stressful before bed, get a daily cardio workout (but not too close to bed time!)... and? No effect.

Then I went on the "brute force medication" route, with a Trazodone prescription, and an absurd quantity of melatonin tablets, complemented with NyQuil on occasion-- enough to knock out a horse. And? Very little effect; I tend to sleep though the NyQuil nights, but am not very rested the next day-- I can tell that it merely papers over the cracks.

The common thread through all of this was that one or maybe two nights per week, I would sleep like normal-- in fact, half of those times I'd be up late, watching political news and chugging Mountain Dew, then laugh the next day: "Man, I slept so well, even with shitty sleep hygiene!"

After a couple of good nights, I would declare: "Problem solved!" Only to then spend the third night laying awake until 2:00, for no explicable reason, then have a string of several bad days in a row. One time it was so bad that I only slept for four hours over a fifty-plus hour time duration!

My wife often remarked: "It seems like with you, that sleep is a moving target-- you do everything right, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't." And finally it hit me: a moving target... hmmmm...

Armed with a new line of inquiry, I found this-- and my entire history of sleep problems suddenly made sense.

When I was 17, I developed the "delayed sleep phase disorder", where my natural sleep time was 3:00am to 10:30am. My senior year of high school was spent sleeping through my classes, and in college, I always set up my first class for 11:00am-- and it was glorious, best period of sleep in my life.

Apparently, for non-blind people with the "non-24" disorder, it almost universally emerges from the "delayed" version-- as in, the "delayed" period morphs into a gradually shifting schedule.

I'd be willing to wager money that, if put into some kind of isolation chamber for a few weeks, with no clocks or indicates to the time of day, I would have the most bizarre-- and restful-- sleeping schedule on Earth. The trouble is, until I retire, I'm essentially just screwed-- which is a major problem in such a mentally-intensive job as mine.

If I can just survive for fifteen more years, I'll be clear-- both houses will be paid off, and the kids will be out on their own. Then I can take a massive pay cut into some low wage job-- which I would enjoy more anyway (I love computers, but hate working with them all day, in an office setting), and where it wouldn't even matter if I was tired.

Hopefully then I'll have a good twenty or maybe even thirty years-- from age 50 to 70, or 80-- to actually enjoy life, before I kick the bucket.
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