Sleep deprivation adversely affects my disposition and thinking skills. Some might wonder why a woman whose grown children live away from home with children of their own is sleep deprived. I’m not a care provider for someone residing in my house, and neither a new mattress nor pillow is needed for my bed. I’m not experiencing pain, and am quite familiar with prescribed suggestions for a good night’s sleep. Falling asleep is not a problem, I do that easily even at inappropriate times, but staying asleep through the night is the complication. Not always, but it happens more regularly and not with good results.
Recently my awakening hour was 3:30 a.m. Nothing is happening at that hour of the morning and nothing needs my attention then. But wide-awake I am. At 4:15 I quit fighting the sleep issue and go read in another room. 5:00 finds me still not drowsy so I make coffee and check Facebook and email, realizing my day has started. Surprised that so few people are on Facebook, I remind myself that for some individuals, the deep sleep cycle is barely underway. By 9:00 I’m thinking about lunch, and wondering how to ignore or remedy this lethargic feeling. Truth be told, there’s a bit of the “Woe is me” sentiment affecting my more typical positive attitude.
Then a friend posts on Facebook about a young man she knew, someone she saw and talked to often, who was killed in a car accident. While looking for further details in the morning newspaper concerning this untimely death, I read where a 30-year-old man, who was riding his motorcycle near the University of Illinois campus, was struck by a car. The man died one day before his graduation from the U of I with a degree in architecture. His mother said he had just left a family dinner to get a haircut. Immediately my sleep deprivation issue is insignificant, and I’m mentally berating myself for my poor attitude. Here are two families devastated by the loss of their loved ones, and when thinking about what they must be going through, I feel deep sadness for them, and remorse over my initial “poor me” posture.
Perspective is essential in life’s attitudes and decisions. It’s so easy to focus only on our current situation while forgetting about others. I should know better. We all should. I’ve been in a hospital’s Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit watching my granddaughter sleep as she’s hooked up to monitors, fed and medicated through a maze of tubing. I’ve walked the halls of a large children’s hospital while that same child was recovering from surgery. I’ve watched my parents’ medical struggle through the last stages of their lives. And I’ve visited friends in nursing homes, silently praying for them and all those living out their final days away from home and family.
It doesn’t mean we’re “bad” people because we grouse about missing a few hours of sleep. It typically means we’re thoughtless, and focused more on ourselves than on others whose situations are much more challenging. Life presents many wake-up calls and lessons. It’s our responsibility to learn from them about appreciation, empathy, and helping those in need, even if we’re sleep deprived.
, not life’s inconveniences.