Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Most of us have been sleep-deprived at some point: children, college, work. By coincidence, I caught some of tonight's City Arts & Lectures, which starred UC Berkeley sleep researcher Matt Walker. He describes our understanding of sleep as "embarrassing" next to our understanding of our other basic drives (hunger, thirst, procreation). One thing we do know is that sleep deprivation causes the emotion-generating part of our brain, the amygdala, to over-activate, so the logic-spewing prefrontal cortex can't do its usual mediation of emotion. In other words, stronger emotional reactions, and less capacity to manage them. Think "irritable."

Now imagine that you're sleep-deprived, and so you sleep! Eight full, glorious hours. You dream. You wake up.

And you feel like you haven't slept at all. Day after day, night after night, morning after morning.

People talk to me, and I know they said something and I may even respond, but I often forget what it was a moment later, and my memory of the conversation is just that the two of us made some meaningless buzzing noises. During the good stretches, I can read light fiction. Doing anything technical is out of the question: last week was a complete loss at work, and seeing things on the downswing, I pre-emptively took this week off.

I lack the mental energy to follow superficial social scripts, so unfortunately most people who ask me how I am are now getting an honest answer, which is "Terrible."

Friday I started the insurance paperwork for a CPAP machine, so hopefully I get it this week, and hopefully it works, and hopefully it works quickly. Otherwise...it will be up to some very confused doctors.

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