In the past five years, I don’t recall ever having more than three hours unbroken sleep in any single night. It is one of the consequences of living with Parkinson’s. One of the many aspects of living with the condition that at first might seem unmanageable but which gradually become the new ‘normal’.
If I wake following three full hours of sleep, I’m grateful, as I know this is not to be taken for granted. I have long since given up any concept of how much sleep I ‘should’ have and simply accept, gratefully what I do get. I have stopped lying in bed willing myself to get back to sleep, instead preferring to get up and do something purposeful until I feel sleep returning.
Since my relationship with sleep deteriorated, I have noticed the link many of us make between the quality of sleep during the night and our prediction of what this might mean for the quality of our day ahead. If we wake from an unsatisfactory night’s sleep, how often this leads us to make negative predictions of how the day will unfold.
‘I’m going to struggle today as I haven’t slept properly’
‘I’ll never stay awake. I’m exhausted before I even leave the house’
‘I feel terrible, this day is going to be a tough one’
I can’t help but think that by framing the day ahead with such negative thoughts we are setting it up to be a negative day.
If lack of sleep were the only consequence of Parkinson’s, I might wrap it up in sympathy, smother it with affection and give it my undivided attention. I might occasionally wallow in it and allow it to influence my plans and to predict the the quality of my day. But of course it’s not the only consequence, it is one of many and I cannot see any merit in turning a ‘bad’ night’s sleep in a ‘bad’ day.
This relationship we harbour between the quality of our sleep and the quality of the day ahead reminds me of our relationship with the weather. How often do we watch the weather forecast, plan our day accordingly, only to find the weather is not what we had expected. How disappointing to have cancelled our plans in anticipation of rain, only to find that the forecast was wrong and for at least some, if not all of the day, the sun was shining. To have spent that day wishing for something better and so to have missed how wonderful it really was or how wonderful it could have been if only we’d opened our minds to that possibility. And on those days, when the weather forecast proves correct, even in the rain there are still beautiful moments.