Napoleon Bonaparte’s success can be summed up with one word.
Early in his career military career he acquired the almost impossible skill of being able to sleep under any circumstances. This ability was noted by his fellow officers, who were amazed that whenever Bonaparte had 10 or 15 minutes he could just nap and awake refreshed. It didn’t matter if cannon balls were flying, or he was under pressure from the government of France ,(of course eventually he WAS the government of France), he could always catch a few winks at will.
Then things changed. By the time of his second marriage to Marie Louise (considered by the French as bad luck), he needed his creature comforts. He was heavier, older and more interested in his new and surpassingly sexually enthusiastic young wife. The battlefield just wasn’t the same as a feather bed and the arms of his wife. The French loss at Waterloo, and other errors in decision making, were perhaps caused his inability to sleep. Bonaparte was tired.
The Battle of Gettysburg was also perhaps a battle lost from lack of sleep. General Lee’s was reported as being tired and not his usual self. Lack of sleep perhaps lost this important battle. Please note it didn’t lose the war. Let’s face it, if your army is winning every battle, but is foraging for shoes, you’ve already lost the war. Gettysburg was about SHOES. The South needed them, the North had them. Maybe if the Southern leadership had better sleeping habits they would have sat down and said “We were looking for shoes, maybe we should just call this war off as there is no way we can win without shoes!”
I apologize for the long start to a post that brings up this fact about those suffering from a chronic illness.
WE CAN’T SLEEP!
When we can’t sleep, we aren’t at our best. We all fail a bit at our personal Waterloos and Gettysburg because we lack a good night’s sleep.
I wake about 2-3 hours after I go to sleep ,every night, as my hip says “Yo! You have to MOVE to the other hip. NOW!” The pressure of my body sleeping sideway on my arthritic damaged hip gets too be too much after a few hours. Sharp knife like pains tend to wake me up. I then have to give the other hip a chance, and also ice the hip that woke me up. Most nights I keep a cooler with ice packs near the bed. This is because over the course of a night, I will have to awaken, move my position, and ice the hurting hip.
I’ve tried sleeping in other positions, but for all the other achy joints side sleep is the best. It’s a system that is far from perfect, but it’s the best I’ve come up with.
My husband is able to fall asleep within 5 minutes of his head hitting the pillow. He often announces this by snoring. I’ve had him checked out, his snoring is because he is allergic to the cat that likes to sleep on his pillow. He also allows the cat to sleep in his lap, and hang around the home office with him. The cat loves him, maybe. The cat could also think she’s in his will for a huge amount and is trying to kill him. But the cat is why he snores. I wanted him to need one of those breathing machines, in hopes it would be far more quiet than his snoring. Nope, just an allergy to the cat.
Unlike my noisy husband I toss and turn. Like most people with a chronic illness, my medications influence my sleep habits. Some days, all the medications have built up and it’s only at 10:00 at night that I feel good enough to do something. A day of pain and almost feeling good enough to do something, turns into a night of “I am wide awake!”
Sadly the most common reason a person with a chronic illness is awake is that person is in pain. I know I complain I am in pain all the time. There are degrees of pain. Often I want to sleep, but a dark room and no distractions means I am awake. A youtube video or reading or Facebook is a distraction. I have been so exhausted and tired, but unable to sleep because of intense pain, many nights. Ice packs on my joints can help, but that means staying awake to balance them all. Yes, a lot of people with chronic illnesses have been in too much pain to sleep. It’s a living hell.
I used to try to sleep. Normal people sleep at night. I wanted to be normal. My doctor even gave me sleep medication. I found sleep medication thrown in with my arthritis medication would dope me up not just that night but the next day also. Then I discovered there really is no SLEEP POLICE. The sleep police, if they existed, would go door to door making sure everyone was sleeping at nighttime. I learned to appreciate that my chronic illness only manifested itself after my children were grown. I can sleep when I am able, which is often in the early morning hours. I schedule almost all appointments for afternoon. I’ll be awake, alert and able to drive safely.
There is something like the SLEEP POLICE online. This is when someone wakes up in the middle of the night, or can’t sleep at all, and decides the distraction of Facebook would help. Sadly, I know the minute I log onto FB in the middle of the night the SLEEP POLICE show up.
“So you are up late?”
“What are you doing up, it’s what 2am your time?”
“Are you alright, what are you doing up?”
“Ha ha! Guess you have it easy, some of us have to go to work in the mornings!”
Facebook is global, and all my friends on the West Coast or Australia LOVE to ask me why I am up at might. Yes, I am up at night. Yes, I understand this is not “normal”. No, I do not want to be reminded that since I have a chronic illness, much of my life is not normal. Let’s just pretend this is fine, alright?
These often aren’t the kind concerned friends. They are wonderful. They understand I don’t want to be awake, but I would love to be reassured my friendship is important to them. So what should you say to someone up in the middle of the night on FB?
“Hey, it’s great you are on here!”
“What’s happening? It’s a beautiful day here in Sydney!”
“I loved that cat video you posted!”
In other words, just act like you normally would if it was the middle of the afternoon and I was posting.
Sleep is difficult, but the one good thing about sleep is dreaming. In my dreams I can walk painlessly. I sometimes even run. I’ve more than once awoken from a dream I didn’t want to leave. I awaken and slowly adjust to the reality that I’m not going to run, not going to travel, and not going to do any of those things I so wish to do except in my dreams.
Mornings are tough, but that’s the subject for a different blog post! As bad as nighties are, mornings tend to be the most difficult time of day for many of us with a chronic illness.