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Monday, November 16, 2009

Insomnia: Friend or Foe?

I'm sure this is quite common, but I have a touch of insomnia. It is either that or I generally only need about 4 to 5 hours of sleep each night. I will admit to getting a bit cranky if I go more than a few days on less than four hours. Otherwise, it doesn't seem to impact my family or co-workers (or their afraid to tell me out of fear).

The troubling thing is that I suspected my hours of sleep would naturally increase as I added mileage. The body needs to recover and I can think of nothing better than slumber to assist the reconstruction. This has not been the case. Running more might have even shortened my nights. I wake up and my mind just races off to the day ahead.

I tried a better diet, no booze, no caffeine, no fun, etc. Nothing worked (which is awesome because I could go back to having fun again). About the only thing that help me fall asleep after waking up after only a couple hours of sleep was prayer. No, I wasn't prayer for sleep...I just fell asleep while praying. It is amazing how well it works.

I went in for a check-up a couple weeks back and had planned on finally telling the doctor about my struggle to sleep the past few years. I'm sure you can hear it now. "Is your job very stressful?" Yeah, who's isn't? Obvious question and after question leading to a prescription for Ambien or something else I didn't want. So, I kept my mouth shut.

It turns out that I have adjusted my life around the hours I sleep and I kind of like it in a strange way. When I wake up at 3:45 AM and can't go back to sleep, I go for a run. The trouble comes on cold winter mornings or the dreaded off day in the training plan. With a marathon taper coming up after this weekend's long run and the weather here in Texas finally turning a bit colder, I may soon change my tune about how beneficial insomnia can be to a runner (I admit this could just be seasonal euphoria). I must also admit that it is less than ideal when on vacation. Nevertheless, I remember in the past when the alarm would go off at 5:30 AM and it would take every ounce of energy I could muster to get my lazy butt out of bed to go for a run. The run often was terminated...'I think I hear rain.' I'll take cold darkness on the street over that any day.

So, now I'm just considered weird by my family, my neighbors and our neighborhood police officer who occasionally pulls up beside me asking how far I'm going that morning. I can handle the label....suits me just fine.

Run in Peace