Hold the Insomniac All Night

I’ve tried everything short of Aristotle/to Dramamine and a whiskey bottle/Pray for the day when my ship comes in/and I can sleep the sleep of the just again. (audio link)

One of my biggest struggles with balance has always been the delicate balance between sleeping and waking.

For a long time, I’ve called myself an insomniac. I get these waves of anxiety late in the evening, thinking about all of the things I didn’t get done during the day, and it’s hard for me to relax and walk into the bedroom. Once I lay down, I usually fall asleep pretty quickly, but I wake up four or five (or ten) times a night from noises, extremely vivid nightmares, or just because I’m not sleeping as deeply as I ought to.  When I wake up in the morning, I’m sore from tossing and turning, and almost never feel well rested.

I tell you all of this, because I want you to understand what it means when I tell you that something amazing happened to me this week.

On Wednesday afternoon, I took a nap.

I haven’t taken a nap since my senior year of college, when my only Friday class was at 11:00 am. I would stay out partying Thursday night, drag myself to class, and then come home and crash on the couch, usually with the windows open and a cat snuggled in beside me. Ah…college.

For those of you following along at home, Wednesday was another day with my personal trainer. It was my first serious day; I started off my session by running a mile while going over paperwork, and then spent the next 45 minutes doing a grueling weight training circuit that involved lots of free weights, balance balls, and a bosu. I did push-ups for the first time since high school, I balanced on one foot while doing dead lifts and flies, and I finished doing the biggest step up exercise I’ve ever done (from the floor to a workout bench, balance on one foot, and do a curl with the pair of 8 pound weights I was holding).

It was kind of a rush. Cardio may be a little bit boring, but strength training is varied, it’s fun, and it’s sort of awesome to push yourself like that.

So when I dragged myself back up to my apartment, I had a couple glasses of water, lunch, and worked for a couple of hours, and then really started paying attention to how I was feeling.  The sensation of being drowsy was almost strange to me…even now, when I go to sleep, there’s never really a drowsy feeling.  It’s awake one minute and asleep the next.

At about 4:30, I set an alarm for 45 minutes, and crawled into my bed (left the windows shut, but I did have a pair of cats eager to join me for nap time). And I woke up feeling rested and refreshed and completely shocked. I felt energized for the rest of the evening, and was able to work for several more hours, clean the kitchen, and make supper.

I can’t imagine that I’ll have the time (or desire) to take a nap every day, but it’s nice to realize that my body can feel sleepy, and I can still recognize those signals. I thought they were gone. Score a point for working out!

Have you guys had any fun or unexpected side effects from exercise?

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7 comments

  1. OK, 1) I love that song.

    2) I’ve found it depends on the timing of the workout, too. Back when I was full of pep I’d work out in the morning. That gave me energy for the day and then I was ready for bed at 10. Funny that I know that works and don’t do it…

    1. I felt the same way when I worked out every morning. Since the weather got colder and the days shorter, I haven’t been working out either. It’s so funny how we KNOW exercise makes us feel healthier, gives us more energy, and helps us sleep better–but we still don’t do it. More about this to come!
      Great post Erin! Glad to hear you’re getting some rest too! Hope to get back into my routine soon!

    2. I’m hoping to get to that point…right now, I think I’m so entrenched in my computer-based lifestyle that I’m skipping right over energized and going to drained. Last night, I did my cardio, sat in the bathtub reading for a while, and then passed out.

      But I’m definitely looking forward to higher energy!

  2. I’ve never had serious insomnia problems (thank god) but I have had days where I can’t fall asleep easily or I feel like I’m awake more of the night than I’m asleep.

    But on days I exercise I usually have no trouble falling or staying asleep. I think being truly physically worn out is something that in modern society we often don’t get — we spend so much of our days sitting at a computer. And when you combine the power of exercise to help clear our heads, it makes it that much easier to sleep.

    1. I think you’re right. And that sort of exhausted, achy feeling is a nice one.

      But the head clearing is really where it’s helping me. I don’t fret over my (often too long) to do lists anymore. I just sort of slip into relaxed space and let myself read and unwind. It’s so enjoyable!

      1. Definitely, can’t under estimate the power of getting out of your head for a little while. I am also a much less crazy person (I think … ask Matthew?) when I’ve been working out regularly.

  3. […] inspiration for renewing my relationship with exercise was Erin’s post and your comments. Around the same time I also read a post from Oh She Glows about using a workout log. If you have […]

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