Using Sleeping and Naps to Escape/Kill Time

Up until the end of high school, I almost never took naps during the day. I was always too busy, active, or doing school work. I did the usual 8 hours per night attempt that High schoolers make, but most of the time it was more like 6.5 to 7 hours in the end.

In college, I slowly picked up the habit of napping during the day. Typically, I would sleep for 6-8 hours at night, and then grab a nap whenever possible (after lunch, before dinner, or just after dinner for 1/2 hour). I call this a “bad habit” because I would increasingly become more drowsy throughout the day and during class, because my body began to expect that it would have time to rest.

Paralelling this sleeping pattern – unbeknownst to me at time – was the development of borderline personality disorder and depression. By Junior year, my depressive mood, sleeping, and anxiety resulted in a trip to a psychologist for the first time, who gave me a preliminary diagnosis of dsthymia (chronic low grade depression). I also began taking Prozac, and then eventually graduated to Effexor to help with my moods.

All the while, as priorities and events in my life rapidly shifted, I would use sleep as an escape and also as way to kill time. When I attempted to kick my gambling habit Senior year, I found myself extremely bored and listless. Since I couldn’t sneak off to the casino, I chose instead to just sleep in my bed.

Later, when I was formally diagnosed with BPD and depression, and began taking more medication, I realized that I was sleeping a lot more than usual. It was almost like an addiction of sorts. Usually mid to late afternoon, my eyelids would become heavy, I would lose my concentration and focus, and it seemed the only cure was sleeping for 2-3 hours.

My first post college job in a supermarket working the typical 8 hour day was brutal. If I was bored or had nothing to do towards the end of the day, I would try and find a place to hide and fall asleep. Since I was a junior manager, if I was caught doing this I would have certainly been fired.

Fast forward to present, where sleep continues to be like an addiction and a way to escape boredom. Now that I’m working on my own ( doing freelance internet marketing ) and my office is only a few steps from my bedroom, the instant I begin feeling lethargy, depression, or boredom, I steal off to my room and lay down for up to three hours. This nap usually takes place in the late afternoon to evening. This sleeping pattern is more troublesome, however, because I now sleep at least 10-12 hours a night on top of my napping.

As a result, some nights I go to bed at 1 AM, wake up at 1 PM, work for 5 hours; and then sleep from 6 to 8, eat dinner, and return to bed once again at 1AM or so.

Increasingly, I notice that my mind feels more alive while sleeping. My sub-conscious entertains me while I sleep, and I wake up feeling like I’ve had a busy afternoon, when in fact it’s nothing more than a fabrication of my thougts.

When I travel, or if I’m not at home and off my “schedule”, I feel miserable unless I can take a nap. For example, if I’m traveling by plane and need to be awake, I feel completely shitty until I’m able to get some rest. Alternatively, if I’m at the beach with friends and they’re looking to spend the afternoon out, I almost always make up an excuse to stay behind so I can sleep and catch up with them at dinner. These deviations in my schedule don’t occur often, but when they do, I feel crappy and down.

Since college and my BPD diagnosis, there have been very few days where I’m awake for more than 8-10 hours straight. My days are instead broken up by cat naps.

I realize that working on my own exacerbates this problem, in part because I don’t live under the threat of a boss yelling at me if I’m asleep on the job. Working as my own boss has its pluses and minuses, and sometimes the fact that I can take a nap anytime feels good, and sometimes, it feels like I’m trying to escape from the world.

The excess sleepiness could be the result of my medication. I’ve never really investigated the effect they have on sleeping patterns, so perhaps I should.

Ideally, I’d like to go to sleep at 12 or 1 AM and feel like I’ve had a “full” day, where I take advantage of every minute and live life to its fullest.

This optimal situation, however, is the exception, not the rule. Instead I sleep off depression, boredom, or anxiety when it presents itself, which takes time away from my day as a whole. I suppose I should be living life to its fullest, taking advantage of every minute of the day, but this just doesn’t happen. I feel like I need to sleep a lot in order to feel any sort of satisfaction for the few waking hours I do have.