It’s harder to get moving these days, and when I do, I more resemble Detective Fish from Barney Miller than an advocate for fitness over the age of 60. My body is feeling the effects of an absence of sleep.
If there’s a weakness in my physical life, it’s that recovery isn’t an option. I still do all the physical things I’ve done since my teens, I’ve simply given away on those hours when exercise recovery takes place. Due to a variety of reasons, I get just 4 to 5 hours of broken sleep each night.
I’ve struggled with sleep since I heard that first trashcan lid make contact with its base on my first morning of Boot Camp. That noise came as such a shock, I immediately began developing a system of anticipating subsequent trashcan lids, alarms, and anything else which might intend to wake me. By the time I completed my term in the United States Coast Guard, I had lost the ability to sleep for more than 4-hours at a stretch.
From the Coast Guard, I would go through a series of jobs involving shift work — very often swingshift and graveyard shift, with sleep taking place during the day in bits and pieces as I was able. Eventually I’d settle into a career of fitness training, but that involved taking clients as early as 4am and and often as late as 8pm.
A fear of oversleeping worked against me. In time I was able to weed out the early and the late client sessions, but years of being a poor sleeper created synapses in my brain and body that manifest for life.
In 2005 I saw a sleep specialist. When I described my sleep habits, combined with my physical lifestyle, he suggested I cut significantly back on the physicality of my life. I explained that exercise is primary in my life, as much for mental stability as it is a physical outlet. He said he understood, and told me to expect my body to break down in time. For a long time I fought that — successfully. I just did what I did, ate what I ate, and slept when I could. I did okay with that.
In time though, I’d add into my life the hobbies of writing, photo editing, and actually expand on daily exercise — all while accepting my role as a caregiver for my aging mother. What could possibly go wrong…? Actually, I’m kind of proud that I make it all work, and I do. With one problem though…
I sleep less than ever and I feel myself breaking down.
Caregiving has put me in a position where I need to stay up a little later and wake a little earlier each day, in order to accomplish the things that fall through the cracks in my hurry-scurry day-to-day. I do most of my writing and photo editing either before my mother wakes up or after she goes to sleep. Notwithstanding, the administration of my business, workout planning for clients, correspondence, and just finding some quiet time.
To paraphrase George H. W. Bush…
The Jhciacb way of life is not negotiable.
I’m beat up these days. I ache, crackle, and move slowly if I’ve been seated too long. Wrapping my fingers around a barbell at 6am requires a mental coaxing that’s new to me. When I walk into my bike room each afternoon, my mind spies the bike of the day while my body cries for a nap instead. Each morning, when I could attempt to sleep for another hour, I wake up and write. I choose movement. I choose creativity.
I’ll continue to do the things that feed my mental health, my confidence, and my need for physical and creative outlets — at the expense of the sleep which I also need. Besides, nobody ever died from a lack of sleep. Well, not immediately anyway.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 15.4
Seat Time: 11 hours 02 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Ray Wylie Hubbard. Enjoy…!