AutoTopic: The Minimum Amount Of Sleep You Can Get By On?
An interesting question, Mr. AutoTopic. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’ve been through the circus of diagnosing sleep apnea and my subsequent fitting for my Darth Sleeper CPAP device. However, sleep and I have a long and troubled history.
As a kid, I slept without issues. Like all teenage boys, catching me awake was a real challenge. As a younger man, I could go without sleep for unlimited amounts of time as required, which in the Army is a helpful quality. In fact, when people ask me if I struggled in college, I normally respond with, “No, I merely stayed up until 2AM for three out of four years so I could graduate in the top seventy-five percent of my class.” It takes extra effort to put things inside of rocks.
Anyway, the older I get the less tolerance I have for missing my shuteye, which became quite evident when the sleep doc told me I’d been operating on the equivalent of a 20-minute nap per night for the past seven years. Enter the CPAP… and a new and glorious depth of sleep.
Then my second sabbatical in Afghanistan happened. Make no mistake – the CPAP works just fine, and in the end it probably what has saved my ass from either complete insanity or worse, but suffice it to say that the stress of this round isn’t doing me any favors. Alternating between problems, I found myself hollow-eyed every day and unable to remember important things like pants, stuff my boss told me, and shit like my name. I would either wake up after 20 minutes or simply not fall asleep until three or four AM. After some weeks of averaging seven hours over five-day stretches (punctuated by 2-day sleepfests at night), I had to do something.
Enter melatonin. Mel and CPAP have got me completely normalized again, so I no longer dread bedtime. The melatonin is like an express elevator down to REM-level sleep, and the CPAP keeps me from interrupting myself.
So take the answer to the original question for what you will. Two or three hours is about my limit, and for only a couple of nights in a row, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.