Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Night Owl


I just read an article on Slate.com asking the question; can a night owl become a morning person? This caught my eye because of the dynamics in my marriage – I am much more of a morning person and Trey is the epitome of a night owl. At the beginning of our relationship, this wasn’t much of an issue. I would stay up late at night just to spend time with him – I was living on love and careless about my lack of sleep. After a few months of struggling to get through each day with bleary eyes and a foggy mind, I decided that I should start getting my much needed beauty sleep (bags under the eyes are not very attractive at any point of a relationship).

I am the type of person who generally enjoys being up early, once I am actually out of bed. I appreciate the quiet of the morning and like knowing that most of the world is still asleep in their beds while I am awake and starting my day. However, Trey’s internal clock does not allow him to be fully awake until about 10:30 AM, which isn’t ideal since he has to leave the house around 7:10 to take Sophia to daycare and be at work by 8:00 every day. I used to sing “wake-up” songs to Trey to get him out of bed – until I was yelled at repeatedly to stop which made my mornings not so pleasant. Stripping the covers off your spouse once you are out of bed is also NOT recommended, if you want them to ever speak to you or sleep in the same bed together again. Now I resort to non-verbal ways to wake him up – I turn on the TV to watch the news, click on a lamp, or open the bathroom door while I am drying my hair. I usually get an evil eye (it would take two much effort to open them both) or a groan in response but after about 10 minutes he pushes off the covers and gets up. Once he is physically out of bed and we are both getting ready for work, we rarely speak or chat about the day ahead. I have learned to give him a hug but lay off any attempts at conversation until he is fully functioning. This usually means that we do not have a meaningful conversation until we are both at work – he usually calls me sometime between 8:30 and 10:30 AM.

The problem with our schedules is that I would prefer to go to bed at 10:00 PM every night to get a full 8 hours of sleep, while Trey is not ready to fall asleep until about 1:00 AM. I usually compromise and stay in the living room with him, reading a book until about 11:00 or he watches TV in the floor of our bedroom while I fall asleep. I really don’t know how late he stays up, but he rarely comes to bed before midnight. He makes an effort to go to bed sooner, but he has trouble falling asleep and ends up getting frustrated.

Until recently, this is how we have lived our lives the past 4 years of marriage. However, a few months ago, Trey went on a business trip to DC. It was sales meeting that was held on Friday and Saturday (at the end of a long workweek). Each night after a full day of the conference, there were social events planned with his coworkers and friends. By Saturday night, I knew he had to be exhausted but Sunday morning he was up at 5:00 AM to catch a flight back to Dallas. Sophia and I were so happy to have him home by 10:00 AM that morning so we could spend the rest of the day with him.

The next morning on the way to work, Trey felt disoriented, shaky and exhausted. I know he felt terrible because he actually called the doctor himself and made an appointment to go in that afternoon. His heart rate was elevated and his body was letting him know that everything was not normal. That day Trey was actually diagnosed with a sleep disorder that affects his body’s internal clock, a circadian rhythm disorder. He finally had an answer to why his body never seemed to adapt to a regular working schedule of 8-5. He had been having difficulty falling asleep for years but we just considered him to be a “night owl”. Several months ago, Trey tried to take Ambien. As with most sleeping pills, the doctor recommends that you take the pill, get in bed, and TRY TO GO TO SLEEP. Trey interpreted this to mean, take an Ambien, sit in bed, then try to play a video game on the computer. Within 5 minutes he was slurring his speech, could not type his name on the computer, and was telling me that we had fairies in the corner of the bedroom that were growing hair. He tried to take pictures with his phone (in the dark bedroom) of the bedroom wall that he swore was moving. I had to physically push him back on his pillow so he would not get out of bed (and fall and hurt himself) and he argued with me for 10 more minutes that he was not tired. I am not a fan of Ambien for Trey.

With this knowledge, the doctor prescribed Rozerem for him to try for the next 14 days. Like the author of the article mentioned above, Trey was given instructions to avoid alcohol and caffeine later in the day (although I say if you are having alcohol every day before 3:00 PM, then you probably have a totally different problem than a sleep disorder). Energy drinks, vigorous exercise, caffeine, alcohol, and bright lights – these are all things to avoid in the evenings. With the exception of our first day in Vegas (on day three of the 14 day trial of taking Rozerem), he had not had any complications. We did not pay attention to the energy drink/alcohol/bright lights rule that first day in Vegas – go figure, we were in LAS VEGAS! Once we were home, he did settle into the routine of taking a pill each night and has cut back on caffeine during the day. Now Trey takes a sleeping pill about 30 minutes before his new bedtime (we have both compromised on 11:00 PM) and I actually hear him breathing the deep breaths of sleep before I drift off to dreamland. He still, however, hates to hear me sing wake up songs.

1 comment:

Trisha said...

Wow! That is very interesting. Ha there is so much I did not even know about Trey. I didn't know he had a sleeping disorder! That's crazy! I love reading all of your stories Steph! You are such a great writer. Sorry I don't comment on them, but I will try and start. :) Tell Trey and Sophia hi for me and I love ya'll!

Love,
Trisha