Sleep that Knits

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care – gimme some!

I’ve always loved the very sound of the famous Shakespearean line from Macbeth:

“Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.”

Although I have a degree in English literature and I read Macbeth, that was over twenty years ago, so I’ve forgotten most of the play, but not that line. “No Fear” and “” explained the full meaning of the words very well:

“Here Shakespeare means that sleep ‘knits up’ or secures what has become confused or tangled in our lives. (something that is raveled is tangled confused or knotted) Sleep brings loose ends together. It lets things settle down and smooths out what was giving us problems before we went to sleep.”

Oh wow, I’d kill for sleep like that. My sleep has been much better since I started taking an antipsychotic medication at bedtime. I’ve noticed it that ever since I began taking it, I’ve often had bizarre, slightly disturbing dreams.

I’m writing this post on my forty-fourth birthday. I hoped that I’d wake up this morning after a decent nights sleep, without too many freaky dreams. I was crossing fingers and toes that I’d leap out of bed refreshed and ready to start the day with a nice, sparkly attitude.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and as a result I’m a bit of a zombie.

Our two little girls like to take turns hopping into our bed at ungodly hours. Time and time again, we lecture them about this, and explain how important it is for Mommy and Daddy to get enough sleep.  They promise us they’ll stop their interruptions, but their promises are made in vain. We can’t lock them out of our room because our room is connected to theirs and there is no lock. (Even if we had a lock, it wouldn’t solve the problem.) When we insist that one or the other girl returns to her own bed, ear-splitting cries ensue and all in all, it’s not a pretty scenario.

It’s not a hopeless situation. I know they will stop when they turn eighteen.

Meanwhile, besides the girls’ nighttime unpleasantries, my digestive system had unpleasantries of its own. I had an upset tummy right before bedtime. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that I mussed up our bed at 2:00 a.m. Yes, me, not either of my children.

T.M.I.  Sorry.  Please forgive me.  (Can I blame my oversharing on my lack of sleep?)

Waking up at 2:00 a.m. scares me, because I know if I don’t go back to sleep, a bipolar mood swing could be triggered. Like many people with bipolar disorder, I am incredibly sensitive to sleep loss. I remember back in the early 1980’s my Dad, who also had bipolar, was prescribed sleep deprivation by his U.C.L.A. psychiatrist for bipolar depression. The doctors advised him to use sleep deprivation. I don’t recall if sleep deprivation worked for Dad, but I know it would be absolutely disastrous for me.

Sleep deprivation actually triggered my bipolar mania. In 2007, after I went into labor at 9:00 p.m., I didn’t sleep, and I became hypomanic. Ultimately I became full-blown manic. I experienced hypergraphia as well. (Hypergraphia is compulsive writing triggered by changes in brain chemistry. I’ve blogged about hypergraphia in my blog “Birth of a New Brain”:

So, at 2:00 a.m. after cleaning up my mess, I was wide awake and I didn’t foresee sleep in my future anytime soon. After hemming and hawing, I decided to take another dose of my medication. I thought that the extra amount would do the trick, although I was hesitant to pop the pill because I didn’t want to be super-groggy the next day.

It didn’t work.

I believe my insomnia culprit was a seemingly innocent cup of extra-strong Columbian coffee that I had a few hours after breakfast.  I grind our coffee beans daily, and yesterday I used a lot more than usual. Not the smartest move. I used the usual amount today and I’m hoping tonight is better on all counts.  I think I’ll sleep better as long as I don’t eat all of my velvety chocolate birthday cake and get high on sugar!

Thanks for reading, and please comment about what helps you sleep.

Sweet dreams!

Visit Dyane Harwood blog “Birth of a New Brain” at Dyane is writing her book Birth of a New Brain-Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder.  Dyane is a member of the International Bipolar Foundation’s Consumer Advisory Council and has been a local women’s support group facilitator and mental health advocate.

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