Occasionally you come across a thing on the internet that is exactly the thing you need to read.
For me, this week, it was How to sleep better—when nothing helps you sleep better.
I’m struggling with sleep because of knee surgery. For the first week after knee surgery you can only sleep on your back (ugh!). After that, it’s a struggle to arrange pillows to make side sleeping possible. I awake with knee pain frequently. It was pretty much on the hour right after surgery and then 3-4 hours sleep at a stretch after that.
For the first while, I was staying awake until I was absolutely completely exhausted and falling hard and fast asleep at about 6 am.
To be clear, it’s not excruciating pain. There are very strong drugs for that. But it’s enough pain to make sleeping through the night a thing that just isn’t happening. It’s enough pain to wake me up and enough pain to make getting back to sleep challenging.
I’m napping most days, sometimes twice a day, and then I fret about napping because maybe it’s making it more challenging to sleep at night.
There are various life stages in which this has been an issue for me. Normally sleep is my super power. The two most obvious are new knees and new babies.
And in both cases, I think self-compassion is important. You’re not ruining your sleep habits for life. It’s not a disaster to have a patch of time when you’re not sleeping 8 hours in a row.
I’ve blogged before about placebo sleep and the idea that what we think about the sleep we’ve gotten matters more than the amount of sleep itself.
So I’m focusing less on sleep and more on relaxing about sleep. I’m not back at work until the third week of May. If it’s still an issue I’ll worry about it then.