Just This Side of Narcolepsy

I have the sleep gene. I can fall asleep anytime, practically anywhere, within about ten minutes. One of my daughters, H, got the sleep gene from me as well. ( Our son falls asleep easily but literally pops out of bed at 5:30 am, so I don’t count him as a “sleeper.”) H and I go to bed early, and get up at a reasonable time. I can’t really think of the last time I didn’t sleep all night, given the opportunity. I’ve had countless patients lament to me that they can’t sleep, and while I earnestly listen and empathize with them, in truth I really have no idea what that feels like.

My husband and other daughter, E, on the other hand, have difficulty sleeping at all.  Stimulating intellectual intensity, a desire to read continuously, and feeling there are not enough hours in the day to fit in all of the varied activities they’d like to explore, results in the two of them being up late at night. When I first met my husband, he was stunned that I napped (I come from a long line of professional nappers.) When Dave and I lived in our little apartment, if I had been napping longer than an hour, he would come in, bouncing on the bed, to wake me up to go do something. I would stare at him, one-eyed, like a cat, wondering why he couldn’t sleep more like me (I fondly called him “Tigger” during this phase.)

Things did calm down somewhat when I entered medical school and residency, since I was in a constant state of sleep deprivation for seven years. I was gone every third or fourth night – working all night, and when I did get home to sleep in my own bed, Dave would definitely let me sleep. Having twins leveled things out even more – then I was the one who could tolerate the sleep deprivation, since I’d been living it for so many years. After the fatigue of having three kids, Dave now sleeps more than he used to, and even occasionally naps with me.

So it’s not surprising that I consider sleep to be the best form of self-care for me. Walks and bike rides are great, pedicures and foot rubs even better, but nothing beats a great nap in our bed. The main benefit is brain rest: I can stop thinking about my patient list, a half-finished homeschool project, or what I need to get done around the house. I can blissfully rest away, and, for a short time, all the other issues can wait.

I feel a little sad every time I wake up from a great nap that Dave can’t share that feeling with me. Even while he sleeps, his brain is working overtime. As an example, yesterday, our son – who has always taken to water like a fish – overdid things at the pool, and I had to make him sit out for a while to rest. Dave got himself up twice during the night to check and make sure our son wasn’t “dry drowning.” Once Dave gets something in his head, he won’t be able to sleep until he rectifies it. As a consequence, his mental reset mechanisms are different: playing the guitar, a brisk walk, or a great movie gets him re-centered and ready to go.

Regardless, whether it’s sleep or exercise, we both find that working and homeschooling is impossible if we don’t take care of ourselves, too. Stopping the world to allow ourselves some time to center is the only way to power this system for the long haul. We both encourage the other’s needs: if I announce I’m taking a nap, Dave will say, “that sounds like a great idea, you should definitely go.” I offer the same encouraging words when he’s going out for a bike ride or off to band practice.

Speaking of which, if you’ll excuse me, the bed is calling my name.




We’re participating in a blog hop with Gifted Homeschoolers Forum this week on “Sleep and other Forms of Parental Self-Care.”

Check out the other posts on this topic!

Sept GHF Bloghop

3 responses to this post.

  1. […] Just This Side of Narcolepsy – Chasing Hollyfeld […]


  2. […] Just This Side of Narcolepsy – Chasing Hollyfeld […]


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