Many people here in Newton NJ ask me about Non 24. They all want to know if I have it, since I live with Retinitis Pigmentosa induced blindness every day, and my answer is, “No.” The reason for my response is simple. While my time frame for when I start sleeping seems to drift; once I’m awake, “I’m awake!”
I will be the first one to admit that I have trouble getting myself out of bed before 10:00 AM. I’ve been like this for years. No matter what time I go to bed and finally fall asleep; 10:00 seems to be the magic wake up time for me, even if I don’t set an alarm.
This doesn’t mean I can’t get up at an earlier time when I need to. It just means that my natural time to wake up, whether I really like it or not, happens to be at 10: AM, even on those days when I end up crashing at 7:00 AM the same day.
Also, my mother’s sleep cycles have been a mess for years and she’s got twenty-twenty vision. “True!” How I perceive light may play a minor role in my sleep cycles. However, my suspicion is that my going to bed and waking up again has more to do with other environmental factors.
In fact; I’d be willing to bet that if I ever find a woman worth marrying; her presence in the bedroom will probably cause my sleep cycles to change. This is, of course, so long as she doesn’t turn out to be an Insomniac and Nymphomaniac all wrapped up in one, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for me.
However, I’m pretty certain that most of us blind people who seem to have irregular sleep patterns could probably manage things a bit better than we do, if we really wanted to, by following a few simple tips.
Creating a sleep sanctuary; reserving the bedroom for sleep and intimacy, “Only,” would probably help anyone, blind or sighted. Some say that keeping the bedroom on the cool side temperature wise will help, too.
This I would have to agree with. However, personally speaking; while I think that Banishing the television from ever being in any bedroom I invade would help keep my wife more focused during sex (if I actually find a wife who likes sex), I do like my computer right where it is. I think, too, that the best way to avoid being awakened by the phone is to turn it off with the rest of the lights at bed time; just encase that isn’t obvious enough for anyone.
Clearly sleep during the day can sometimes work against any of us. So if you are one (blind or sighted) who sleeps during the day and is up half the night; you just might want to designate night time as the “only” right time for slipping off into oblivion.
Does avoiding caffeine after noon time make a difference when making an effort to be sure you will be ready to sleep at the appointed time? “For me it sure does!” If I’m drinking coffee at five anyone who knows me well recognizes that I’m going to be bright eyed and bushy tailed at midnight.
Obviously; for some people alcohol can be a stimulant. For me; it helps me to sleep soundly, especially when one of those Retinitis Pigmentosa induced headaches I regularly get reaches monstrous proportions.
It getting regular exercise means having sex before sleep, “I’m all good!” However, like most people, Going to the gym or taking a long walk with my Registered Seeing Eye Dog within three hours of bedtime can delay sleep for a while longer. This is because exercise generally acts as a short-term stimulant for most people.
I’ve also noticed that taking my dog out so she can do her business on a zero degree night can really mess up my plans for sleep, particularly if I do it just before I “plan” to crash. In fact; I’m surprised that none of the studies I’ve seen on the matter of sleep talk about how temperatures below freezing can really act as a shot in the arm when you are in the near coma phase of your day.
Obviously trying to go to bed at the same time every night can, in and of itself, be a major improvement for anyone who is on the hunt for a good night’s sleep. It makes sense, even if it doesn’t seem to be working at first because it causes sleep to become a habit. Unfortunately though; for those of us blind and sighted people who don’t have a regular daily routine; going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning can prove to be a bit dicey.
So, all in all, I’m not willing to subscribe to the idea that I have a condition on top of my blindness called, “Non 24,” and neither should anyone else who is blind. While Non 24 may in fact be a rare condition effecting a few blind people on earth; there are way more reasons a person may or may not be sleeping regularly; all of which are not bad.
Personally; when I do fall asleep, “I sleep.” When I do finally wake up, “I’m up.” So, therefore, “No Problem.”
True; if you really do believe you have a problem sleeping, and are visually impaired, you might want to talk to your doctor about it. However, to automatically assume, or have those around you automatically assume, that you have Non 24 just because you are blind and don’t have regular sleep cycles is rather foolish.