On Staying In

Sometimes I don’t leave the apartment for a week at a time.

I started to think about why I’m so comfortable not going out, and I thought at first that maybe it was tied to my current sleep routine. Every night I spend time doomscrolling and obsessive news lurking, then reading on my Kindle until my eyes are bleary, then listening to music until I’m actually drowsy. Then and only then do I actually – finally – fall asleep. Most nights, that’s around 2am. When I spatula myself out of bed the next morning for work, I invariably insist to myself that I will go to sleep earlier the next night, but I never do. Hell, I even have a cron running on my computer that makes it speak aloud, “go to bed you idiot” at 10:30 each night. I guess I don’t sleep much.

Part of the problem, for me, is that I am never, ever bored at home. There’s always something to read, a video to watch, small projects to put off. All my stuff is here! There’s always something to do when I should be sleeping like a sane and normal person. (Yes, I know my sleep hygiene is garbage; that’s not what this post is about.)

In the last two weeks, I’ve left the building perhaps three times. Once to the dentist, once to the grocery store, and the other time was a walk with a friend to pick up some dinner. I recently mentioned to that same friend that I hadn’t really been out in a while and she asked why- and I didn’t have a good answer. I mean, yes, part of it was that work had been particularly contentious, including a weekend full of twelve-hour workdays.

I feel a little guilty that I’m being a bad friend by holing up in my apartment instead of trying to socialize more with my friends, but then most of them who are too skittish about Covid to actually do anything social. I don’t blame them – everyone has their own comfort level about being out and about during the pandemic. I don’t know anyone up here who would dine inside a restaurant. And it’s just cold enough to be really uncomfortable dining outside.

Switching to pandemic lock-down was easy for me because my own built-in inertia already makes me predisposed to stay in. Without social plans – a concert, a movie, a musical, pub trivia, or dinner with a friend – I’m perfectly happy to stay at home and do my own thing. Left to my own devices, I can easily stay at home for days at a time. Longer, with food delivery.

There’s really just not that much going on in the outside world lately. Honestly, though, I can’t think of a good reason for not going outside, other than “I just don’t want to.” The only real down side is that the longer I stay in, the harder it is for me to finally get up and go outside.

Do you get stir-crazy when you can’t go out for a long time?

6/52

Sleep. Now. *

At about 1:30 in the morning, I was still awake.   At around 1:30 in the morning, I’m almost  always awake.   I track my sleep with the Fitbit on  my wrist-  it’s not a perfect tracker, but it does a pretty good job of noting when I stop tossing and turning.   My regular sleep patterns look a great deal like this one, except Monday was extra horrific because of Daylight Saving Time.  The blue lines indicate restlessness (tossing and turning) and the red line indicates I was completely awake.  If it’s a work day, odds are pretty good that my sleep didn’t break much more than six hours.

I have good intentions, I really do-  I generally brush my teeth and get into bed before midnight.    There’s always a lot of tossing and turning, though.  Sometimes I just can’t get comfortable.  Sometimes I can’t get my brain to shut off.  Once in a while, I use an over the counter sleepytime pill (diphenhydramine, usually) to help out- that’s why there’s a big swath on Monday with no indications of restlessness.  The image to the right is a pretty normal night.   I don’t know if it’s the bed, or the extra electronic light in the room where I sleep, or the temperature, or all the things that are chasing my attention, or some combination of the above, but the lack of good sleep is starting to grind me to a pulp.

I started this post at about 1:30 AM last night, intending to say a whole lot of other stuff about how much it sucks to not be able to sleep.   Since I started thinking about the blog post, I continued to be wide awake until about 3 AM.  Then I conked out until work called me at 5:45am with an emergency.  I made the mistake of caffeinating myself in order to solve a technical problem, and was able to go back to sleep for another hour after.  My total sleep for last night: 3 hours and 39 minutes.

Being on call for work is a temporary condition, and they very rarely need to wake me up from a sound sleep.  The rest of the scenario from last night is all too common, though.  I’m partway through my relocation to Orlando, and my to-do lists have their own to-do lists.  I need to find a better way to shut my  mind off so that my body will actually go to sleep.

* – “Sleep. Now.” is a line from Dark City, and also the title of one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack. It’s a pretty groovy little tune. You should check it out.

What do you do when you can’t fall asleep?