Saturday, January 1, 2011

Waking up

I've always had trouble waking up. Before it took just a few minutes but it's taking longer the older I get. You see, it's not the actual waking up that is the problem but opening my eyes. There are three body processes when you wake up. First your mind becomes alert to your surroundings and you realize you're awake. Then the body slows increases its function to be fully awake so you can get up.

The third, which surprises many people, is your eyes. They're on a separate mental-physical process than the mind and the body. They have to get the signal to open and stay open. Ever notice how you feel awake but just can't seem to hold your eyes open? That's it, but out of a regular sleep, it's the last to come awake.

And that's what's been the problem. When I was young it took only a minute or two. And in my forties, roughly three to five minutes where I'd think about the day ahead and then get up when the eyes opened and stayed open. Now is often 10-15 minutes and sometimes longer. The doctors say that happens with age for some people.

Like me. Gee, thanks. And so I lie in bed most morning, the mind alert and paying attention and the body ready for the day, but the eyes won't open, or they open and quickly close to stay close no matter how hard I try to hold them open. It's strange because this doesn't happen when I take a nap, all three wake up in seconds. Or when I get up in the middle of the night.

Only when it's morning. I lie there trying to decide if it's better to go back to sleep or wait it out for the eyes to come awake. They said it's a innate action so we can't really force it, except of course walking around trying to hold our eyes open which don't want to open yet. And that often leads to confrontations of the body, usually the toes, with immoveable objects and a sudden realization of the impact which automatically open the eyes.

You see the this process has some built-in reaction to open when faced with sudden events. Why we wake up to strange sounds. Why we wake up to get a glass of water or go to the bathroom. And why we wake up from a bad dream or nightmare and get up to relax to get back to sleep. It's the process when we wake up in the morning where it often has problems, and with me, increasing ones.

And yes, I wrote this post in my head while lying in bed with my eyes closed waiting for them to open to the day.

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