"SLEEP LIKE A DISEASE" ~ it's a favourite homespun expression of mine. That's what sleep is to me all too much of the time. If not a symptom of some malady then a sickness in its own right. Sleep is like the sea. Sometimes when the tide goes exceedingly low, the sea seems never to be coming back again.
Last night I spent a long time smoking ordinary roll-up cigarettes (I cannot stand cannabis) while drifting in and out of consciousness. My medication, quetiapine, which is supposed to be for bipolar depression as well as bipolar mania and schizophrenia, also helps me sleep.
I got up after 4pm, having fallen asleep on the couch around 10pm then gone to bed at 1:30am. I don't know exactly how many hours I slept but surely it had to be more than 15. The night before, I did at least 12. On Sunday evening, I had gone to bed by 6pm and dozed through to 9am in one single 15-hour block. The "meaning" of this pattern to me, is that my body appears to be becoming depressed again. Sure enough, upon rising I feel the familiar signs: lingering fatigue and malaise coupled with emotional deadness.
My fellow blogger James Claims, who journals a life with bipolar disorder, says he's not Allowed any more than eight hours' rest each night. This is one of many strictures of Dialectal Behaviour Therapy (DBT). It's based on the premise that excessive sleep could actually trigger a depressive episode.
It's interesting that in the present sleep-deprived age of our 24-hour society, sifferers of depression seem as likely to complain of oversleeping or hypersomnia as insomnia. Age old descriptions of Melancholia, as it used to be known, almost without exception describe sleeplessness as a hallmark feature of the syndrome. Maybe these days when many people are so sleep-deprived, the body will claw back lost sleep by plunging it into a state of hypersomnia.
Oversleeping is something I've had to deal with since my early 20s, when I worked six nights a week between the hours of 18:30 and 02:30 and found myself unable to function, despite countless attempts, on less than thirteen hours a day.
Anyway, I'd like to know whether the rest of you ever have sleep difficulties: insomnia, hypersomnia or just no sleep-pattern at all... tell me what form they take and what, if anything they seem to "mean"...