Great Nature's Second Course

Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
~William Shakespeare, Macbeth

It’s no secret that I don’t sleep… or that I haven’t slept well or with any sort of daily consecutiveness in three, maybe four, maybe more, years. It hasn’t exactly been the best of times and I am now a walking encyclopedia of sleep medications, bipolar medications that include sedatives, and all the “what to do” or “what not to do” in order to get better sleep factoids. None of those things has worked. Not one.

I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago looking for answers. It had been a while since my last visit. I gave up last year… tired of the medicinal roller-coaster. “As long as my current meds keep my bipolarity under control, I will forego sleep,” I thought. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. And, my smart ass general practitioner tried to introduce himself to me like we’d never met… his dry version of long-time-no-see. We talked. I came off all my meds. Yes, even my crazy (Read: bipolar) meds. The lab took a bunch of blood and I waited. A week later I found out that my blood sugar is fine. No diabetes. As is my thyroid. Working great. Good news, I guess, but that means my increasing weight gain is my own damn fault.

Decision: New meds. Duh. This time, however, I have been prescribed an anti-depressant that is also being used as a sleep aid for those who may not even need the anti-depressant part of the drug. Seeing as I’m bipolar it is a bit risky. Even when not medicated, my manic phases are few and far between… years even, but I live in the melancholy. I’ve told Big K (who is now 15) and my boss and my coworkers and a few friends about this change in medication. Accountability. I can usually read the signs, but these people will let me know if they sense my general mood swinging in the direction of Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! One week on the new medication and I’m doing good. I’m sleeping.

The first night I still had a bit of trouble falling asleep. I slept about six hours. Bravo, me. Usually when this happens (6-8 hours sleep in one night), however, I am then awake for three days. Night two: Six hours of sleep. Night three: Eight hours of sleep. It’s been a week and I’ve had seven sleeps… each varying from six to eight hours… and not once have I awoken in the morning feeling drugged or suffering from a Nyquil-esque hangover. Miracles, people. They happen.

Seven nights of good sleep and I’ve made some discoveries:

1. My super trippy dreams of awesomeness are not exclusive to the one or two mediocre sleeps a week I have been averaging over the last few months. Oh, no… they came with me to my new full night sleeps. Night after night. I love them.

2. It doesn’t matter how much sleep, or how sound the quality, I get… it is a physical and psychological impossibility for me to ever be a morning person. I knew this already. This week has simply confirmed that fact.

3. One week of good sleep eliminates years of dark circles.

4. I lost three pounds without effort. Coincidence? I think not. The body must heal.

5. I’m smiling more during the waking hours.

6. I haven’t dreaded facing every single moment of my days. Life isn’t half as bad as it was two weeks ago. Bravo sleep aid. Bravo anti-depressant.

7. My body is developing a schedule. I can actually feel myself becoming mildly tired even before I swallow that perfect little pill. A schedule! I haven’t had any sort of internal body clock in at least ten years.

8. I hate my bed.

9. I actually have… Wait! … What’s this? … ENERGY!

10. I have really, really, really missed sleep. I quite enjoy great nature’s second course.

Photo credit:
Daneli via Flickr.


  1. Not enough people have read Mr. Whitman...

    "Be not ashamed, Women—your privilege encloses the rest, and is the exit of the rest; You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul."

    Yea for Sleep! Yea for smart ass doctors!

  2. I'm so glad you're back on track and that your doctor was able to help you.

    There's a popular Korean expression that the whole society takes to heart and I really despise it: "Sleep 3 hours and you'll be successful. Sleep 4 hours and possibly fail."

    I have students that burn the candle at both ends and end up losing it just before finals after a pretty good semester.

    Yes, we talk about the benefits of a good night's sleep a lot in class. Somehow, I think they're hearing "Momomomomomo" (Korean for "blah blah blah".)


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


Blog Widget by LinkWithin