Until very recently, I hadn't set an alarm since the morning T died. Those first many months, I wasn't sleeping well enough to need to -- I was always awake long before 6:30. Even when taking sleeping pills the first two weeks or so, I couldn't stay asleep for more than about 4 or 5 hours, and though I would fall back asleep for a while, it wasn't good quality sleep and I had no trouble getting up, showered, and ready for B's morning routine at 7:00 or 7:15.
In the last few months I had better luck occasionally sleeping until 6:30 or so, especially as fall arrived and the sun rose incrementally later each morning. But I still resisted setting an alarm. Somehow it represents losing an important concession I've insisted on as a widow -- I get to sleep as long as I can, putting my own needs for good rest above the commitments of the day. And T died between going to bed at night and when the alarm went off in the morning, so the alarm clock represents something more ominous to me, I guess.
But a few weeks ago I had to be somewhere by 8:00 AM for a class I was taking, and the mornings leading up to the class, after waking at 4:30 and having trouble falling back asleep, I actually slept past 7:00. I didn't want to risk being late, so I bit the bullet and set an alarm. And of course I woke early.
But then I had the thought that not setting the alarm might be making me unconsciously worry about oversleeping, now that I'm back in a normal routine of commitments and schedules. Maybe setting the alarm will enable me to sleep longer, because I will trust that the alarm will get me up in time.
Didn't make a difference. I still wake up at 5:30 or 5:45, whether the alarm is set or not.
I don't quite know why I'm so obsessed with sleep. I don't feel especially tired, most days, and have enough energy to get through a day intact. I've always been this way though, from college days when I would quit studying at midnight so I could get 7 1/2 hours sleep before I had to get up at 8:00 for class. When B was born, I worked very hard to get her on a generous sleep schedule, even putting myself to bed when she went down at 8:00 or 8:30 so that the fractured nights of breastfeeding were survivable.
I guess I equate sleeping 8+ hours a night with mental health, spiritual peace and emotional contentment. Or maybe it represents healing to me; like babies' brains grow while they sleep, my heart will eventually mend overnight.