Sleep is the great rejuvinator. When you get good sleep, you feel generally much better when you wake up. Your body does repair functions, your brain works out (some issues). And occasionally you dream.
Going without sleep ages people, makes them less productive as they are more tired during the day. It limits the repair functionality. It hinders the “work through problems”. It prevents dreams.
Pulling all-nighters is one instance of doing without sleep. This is a voluntary effort.
But what if your efforts were non-voluntary? What if your lack of restful sleep was prolonged for, I dunno, 20+ years.
I have a severe case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). I’ve had it for a while … my wife diagnosed it perfectly, some years ago, after reading the symptoms and comparing to her observations. I didn’t believe her.
Word to the wise. Listen to the boss lady.
I’ve not been getting good sleep for a while. Years … no … decades. I used to attribute it to one of my other oh-so-enjoyable maladies. In this particular instance, one is awakened to the nasty sensation of your vocal cords and esophagus burning, choking and inability to breath a highly acidic slurry … Yeah, that, kidney stones, and Gout are all things I have that I really don’t wish on anyone.
Turns out that there are correlations. Gout and Kidney stones. They (to a degree) go together. Kidney stones will keep you from sleeping alright, but not for 20 years. Just while they are passing or failing to pass.
But OSA may be implicated in a number of other things.
Lack of sleep though, it probably the major issue. You need sleep. Really really need sleep. OSA stops your sleep from being restful. Which means its just time you are lying down, and not undergoing the self repair as completely as you need.
Now do this for 2 decades.
Tuesday this week, I received an insurance provided APAP machine. Tried it out.
I didn’t have the best sleep I’ve ever had. But I had very restful sleep. I was awake and alert the next day, without needing to consume mass quantities of coffee that I normally require to bootstrap my consciousness. I mean, I drank the coffee anyway … I do like it … but I didn’t need it to be productive. And I wasn’t extraordinarily tired. Which, prior to that, I was.
So for this past week, apart from Thursday morning, I used the apparatus. Yes, I look funny in it (easy one fer ya “Joe, you look funny without it too!"). Its really quite a contraption.
I find myself far more productive at work. I was pretty good to begin with … an unofficially diagnosed (the boss lady again) ADHD (a multi-threaded brain) coupled with mass quantities of coffee. Now take steps to fix the sleep problem. Now the context switches are smoother. But I still don’t have nearly enough R&D; and coding time. This is in part due to not having good sales and marketing offload capability at this moment. I am ramping up the offload support.
Its not the most comfortable sleep in the world. Really not. You have this mask on your face … well … I opted for the smaller one, just over my nose. And it blows (in my case) hurricane force wind into me.
For those who want to experience this, go stand in front of a very powerful fan or AC unit. Try to breath. Yeah, its like that. You have to fight a sense of panic that you are not getting sufficient oxygen. You have to control inflation/deflation of your lungs.
And there’s this wonderful ramp button which allows you to start out “lower” and wind up to the category 3 blowing into your face later. I use that one a bit.
You take for granted, that when you sleep, you will get rest. When you don’t get this rest, you gradually acclimatize to loss of restful sleep. You’ll fall asleep, almost spontaneously, in darkened movie theaters. You’ll find yourself grabbing shuteye whenever conditions favor it.
And when you finally come up with a mechanism to get the rest you need when you need it … that feeling you get the next day … you have to relearn what that is. Its not exhaustion, its not stress. Its wakefulness. Not the type you’ve had, but a new type. No, an old type. One you’ve not experienced in a while.
Even more interesting … you begin to dream again.
You’ve been operating at maybe 5-10% of your possible efficiency. But now, you feel like you can hit up to 50% without the use of additional mechanisms. Yeah. I’m liking this.