A Bizarre Helter-Skelter Sleep Pattern Emerges
From clock-like regularity to a string of peekaboo maybe’s, my sleep regimen tanked, with predictable adverse consequences. Silly mistakes ran rampant as my brain hiccuped through the day.
The phenomenon hit the critical zone as I proofed a Certificate of Service. That’s a one-page document, certifying to the Court: yep, I mailed the other guys a copy of the attached document, right after I filed it with the Court. The clock for the opposing side begins ticking on the date of that service, presuming a correct address.
The Post Office Box number was similar to 12345. But I had typed 12345345. If I missed that error? Both the court and opposing counsel would climb all over me. We’re talking an intensely sloppy boo-boo. It risks losing credibility with the trial judge. That’s like walking around a gasoline station, with open storage tanks, carrying a lit match In each hand. Just. Say. No!
After correcting that too-many-legal-implications horror show, I pulled my Jibun Techo Hardlandscape calendar. Talk ’bout gratitude! The Thursday and Friday columns were blissfully clean, allowing me to focus on a cure —starting that Wednesday evening.
I checked my Daily Log, made a few calls, then put my work week to rest. I declared the rest of the week Emergency Self-Care Time. Several 30+ page briefs awaited my attention in the upcoming weeks. Each requires absorption and mastery of reams of documents. I could not afford a brain willy-nilly skipping past details.
Resolved: I’d touch nothing of consequence until I resuscitated the Pam capable of presenting her best, on behalf of the clients concerned.
If the sleep issues were consistent, such as tossing and turning every night, I’d deem lingering grief to sole culprit. But my experience eased into the outright weird zone. Examples:
- Sunday, I fell asleep in a chair, afternoon to early evening. I don’t know when I fell asleep again that night —somewhere around midnight— but I was up at my usual 4a. The typical “refreshed!” vibe was AWOL.
- Monday, sleep hated me. I couldn’t buy some 💤💤. I remained awake a solid 24 hours and then some. But I kept working, oblivious to my hobbled state.
- Tuesday, I played Nod Queen, but slept no longer than an hour max at a time. That night, Chubby Checker and Lil Richard dueled over my body. I twisted the night away, rockin’ and rollin’ my way to 4:15 am.
The described error occurred that Wednesday. All of which told me it was time to get serious about sleep tracking. Fact: the given examples comprised only the most recent woes.
Ya can’t cure a problem until ya pinpoint its source. Instinct insisted this was more than a grief-induced dilemma. My job: find the rhyme and reason —sparking my gotta-track-it declaration.
[hold] Gotta confront it to change it [/hold]
Investigating the Sleep Dilemma
1️⃣ Take Notes, up the wazoo
My #StationeryNerd shelves include plenty of legal pads. Because I deemed this a temporary mission, I grabbed a partially used pad, taking it upstairs to the munchkin-desk on my side of the bed.
My plan: write a summary on that pad before climbing into bed. Note what and when I last ate or drank something. Note anything occurring that day out of the ordinary. Scour my memory bank for any significance attached to the date, elusive unless and until I pulled out a mental flood light. In short, scribble anything of potential relevance.
2️⃣ Conjure an Analog Sleep Tracker
As is my typical tactic when a problem smacks me senseless, I grabbed my BuJo. Looking through the Jibun Techo pages, my eyes stalled on its Gantt Chart. Counting the 24 single rows confirmed a structure prepped to fondle a day’s 24 hours. Noticing each day’s doubleslot, my mind converted each into a half-hour increment.
I had my sleep log in less than a minute. All I had to do for setup → write the hours down the left column.
To prevent potential confusion flowing from a 0–24 hour timeline, I began my numbering with 8pm. Because my normal sleep manifests later in the night, I figured the 8p start time would confine each time bar to the single day area. That would reduce complexity in discerning and comparing sleep periods day to day.
Cool option: If I fell asleep or awoke during the second half-hour, I’d include it when creating the vertical sleep time bar. How? Include both slots of that hour, mimicking an inverted (fell asleep) or regular (awoke) L shape.
I used a gray MildLiner to create the time bar. I seldom use that color elsewhere, so no conflicts would materialize if I later chose to color-code other parts of the chart.
Also, the gray personifies politeness. I was free to continue using the chart for habit tracking, knowing the pale gray coloring wouldn’t interfere with their associated checkmarks.
3️⃣ Discerning the Actual Sleep Time, with an Apple Watch
As luck would have it, my JawBone wrist tracker died months before the sleep issues infected my world. I craved a replacement.
The Jawbone replaced a dead FitBit. I refused to consider another. In years past, the FitBit tracked sleep only after 8p or thereabouts. While the before-nighttime-tracking issue might be resolved, I wasn’t in the mood to pay, to play guinea pig.
It occurred to me the Apple Watch has been on the scene long enough to pull the attention of gifted coders. I have a first generation Apple Watch. It serves four purposes, most pertaining to an out and about status:
- Handle an incoming call, start to finish, when my iPhone is out of reach. (Ha! DickEtta Tracy, y’all, woot 🤗)
- Dictate a note, memorializing a thought blossoming as I, say, run around a park chasing birds with my camera. The notes morph into searchable transcripts, courtesy of a tap, landing on my iPad and other iCloud-friendly devices. (app: Just Press Record)
- Vibrate to alert me to an upcoming turn while driving, something CarPlay sometimes ignores til the too-late last minute.
- Provide certain notifications, per my Settings configuration.
An eyeball stroll through the App Store’s relevant commentaries suggested two worthy contenders for my sleep tracking chores: AutoSleep and Sleep Watch. Like all sleep trackers worthy of the name, each relies on heart rate while tracking.
AutoSleep proves reliable and cost efficient —one $3 payment, as opposed to the ridiculously priced SaaS models presented by most competitors. Ya can’t blame the SaaS crew. After all, consumers made the Pet Rock a top seller. ‘Tis true: A fool and his money are quickly parted. (Source)
Sleep Watch is free, with a one-time optional $3 Premium fee for some sort of scoring feature. Free responded to my needs.
I installed both, thinking if one bombed, I’d enjoy a backup. Surprise bonus: both yield remarkably similar statistics —consistently.
Sourcing the Sleep Problem, and Conjuring a Multi-Pronged Fix
After tracking and investigating for a few weeks, I sourced the problems. Plural, as in two problems conspired, triggering my mental silly zone.
1️⃣ Grief’s Lingering Impact, and Remedial Action
The particular timeframe held multiple dates of significance. Certain memories, each involving a loved one recently lost, attacked me. I stifled each.
I believe words hold power. It’s hard to miss: one of the oldest books in the world converts its opening chapter into a prolonged homage. To what? The inherent power of words. (Let there be light. … And sho ’nuff, light dawned.) Therefore, I don’t allow myself to utter negative emotions.
- This standard stance backfired, in spectacular fashion.
- Holding everything in permits no release.
- Silent grieving kept me away from my usual twice-weekly photo shoot / forest therapy/ park habit. Lost interest, period. The lost relaxation vibe, in turn, eliminated peaceful sleep.
Bottom-line: I managed to jack myself, in critical ways. With the benefit of hindsight, I could see it all with 20/20 vision. But while in the heat of it, I simulated Mr. Magoo.
My bad. Know better. Do better.
To prevent duplicating these mistakes, I decided:
- Either talk it out, run 5-6 miles, or wail on my punching bag.
Grief is a mutha, unleashing my Mike Tyson vibe. Deep anger, targeting air. I punch the blipblop outta the literal punching bag, til my arms feel like noodles.
The bag sits atop several nonslip yoga mats, preventing movement while providing a cushion for my <ahem>😂 footwork 😂. The price more than doubled since my purchase almost a decade ago (now $200). But because it empowers me to resolve my issues independently, I’d buy it again.
- Exploit a camera-based reality to resume and maintain a faithful forest therapy habit.
My two cameras —a pocket-friendly Sony with 30x optical zoom, and a 50x optical zoom Nikon— include a GPS feature (nope, no resultant battery hit). For optimum GPS cooperation, I download a file from each manufacturer’s site every month, copying it to the pertinent SD card.
When I was in and out frequently for photo shoots, I developed the habit of refreshing that file every other week. In the wake of this debacle, I turned to gSuite’s Google Calendar. In the pgNotes sub-calendar, I created a new event:
- PHOTO SHOOT → get/ install GPS file for each cam.
I configured recurrence for every 11 days. Finally, I set two SMS reminders, over 3 days. Why? I’ll ignore a regular notification in a heartbeat. But I always pay attention to SMS messages. Holdover from my Blackberry days, I s’pose.
2️⃣ Hubs Changed Work Hours, Temporarily; Easy Fix
A couple of months before I honed in on the sleep hassles, hubs’ work hours changed. Result: wanting to keep him company, I ignored part of my evening routine. I tossed the go-to-bed-by component in favor of staying up until midnight. Yo, girlfriend was sitting by her man, as his body struggled to relate to the revised hours. Yet, my internal clock still had my peepers popping around 4a most days.
Fix: Resume my standard in-the-bed-by routine.
The apps present detailed sleep-related information. But I’ve evolved into a vertical-weekly kinda gal. I had to SEE my sleep patterns, confined to one page, to discern the pattern. The Jibun Techo’s Gantt Page scratched that itch, in style.
Comparing the handwritten summary electronic data with my hardlandscape (anniversaries, birthdays, special days) AND memory-bank calendars induced serial Aha! moments. My ultimate reward: I got a clue, finally.
Fail to respect the critical nature of sleep, and you’ll pay the price. My Jibun Techo responded to a precise need, presenting a form ripe for repurposing. It has yet to fail such late-breaking distinct chores. It relieved me of the tedium of drawing, gifting the desired structure etched in my mind’s eye. I simply glanced through the pages, scrutinized a few, and blam! — I had my bingo.
Problem recognized. Problem analyzed. Problem resolution manifested. And implemented.
The go-to-bed-by rhythm returned, albeit at a snail’s pace. I toil withOUT the goofy-mistakes syndrome dogging my every move. Hey y’all, girlfriend is back, ready for Freddy!
Additional Bullet Journal Sleep Tracking Spreads