How does one retire from sleep?

I’m not literally retiring from sleep! I love getting my sleep!

But I recently made the decision to retire my sleep medicine credentials when they come due for renewal (RPSGT in August 2023 and CCSH in August 2024).

Journal Club #63: Restless Sleep Disorder: An emerging pediatric movement disorder of sleep
This has been a fun, if challenging, job: breaking down current sleep medicine research into multimedia learning modules for my sleep technology peers so they can maintain their credentials.
SleepyHead CENTRAL
I’m gonna miss my li’l pooch mascot, REM-y.

Related to that… I’ll be retiring from my position as the Journal Club producer for the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST) until June 2023. And then, because I can’t resist a pun, I’ll be putting that project to bed. (See what I did there?)

And also related… I just archived my website, I started it as a free sleep health information clearinghouse back in September 2013. It has served its purpose and it’s time for me to move on.

It seems like it was only yesterday when I earned my credentials in sleep medicine

But it wasn’t yesterday. It was, in fact, a decade ago next spring. It happened, in fact, at about the same time I was diagnosed with MS.

This is a shot of the “head box” I used for my very first sleep study in April 2010.

Ten years of work helping to educate the community and my own peers on sleep health has been satisfying in so many ways. I went into it because I was inspired by my own experiences with sleep disorders and positive encounters I’d had with sleep studies.

Taking care of my own sleep concerns has truly made a difference in my life; I no longer need two-hour naps on the daily, my blood pressure is controlled, my mood is positive, and my energy levels are great.

It’s no wonder I want to help others find their way forward with better sleep health! In fact, getting better sleep may be one of the reasons why my MS has been, for the most part, in remission.

Why leave a fulfilling calling like sleep health education?

After my husband was nudged into retirement at age 55, right at the onset of the pandemic, our daily routines shifted. We were already in transition, given that we had just moved, sold our previous house, and were still settling into the new one.

It was a new build, so we were plenty busy with installing most of the landscape, and my husband built a wood shop, a series of large raised beds, and a storage shed.

This is our Aerolite at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, WA.

After years of him being perpetually on call, he finally had the opportunity to truly relax, especially when it came to camping, where it may or may not be possible to get cell service. Now he can pretty much go camping at any time, and that’s a real pleasure.

But I’m still working, and while I have control over my schedule to some degree, it still means lots of planning ahead to ensure I can also make the time for camping without setting myself back on deadlines, only to pay the dreaded catch-up after. It’s part of doing client work that I have never liked, and it can be downright stressful.

Time for a shift toward self-care and personal projects

Also, since our move to Kingston, I’ve been antsy to free up more of my time, energy, and brain space for personal writing endeavors, including several book projects on the back burner, such as my speculative novel, The Flare, which I hope to get a good start on later this year.

A nighttime shot of my raised bed veggie jungle just a couple of weeks ago!
My raised beds in late winter look so naked here in this shot from March 2022.

And as many of you already know, I’ve become obsessed with raised bed gardening… herbs, vegetables, flowers, some of it year-round.

But that is a time (and seasonal) commitment as well, and doesn’t quite mesh with deadlines and client projects.

At some point I realized that something needed to give.

Listening to my body

I’m not yet 60, but between the MS and the arthritis in my feet, hips, hands, and spine, my body definitely feels much older some days.

Part of my challenge is dealing with the problems that come from too much sitting (in front of a computer) and not enough time exercising (which I can’t do while sitting in front of a computer).

I’m now in physical therapy for some of these issues, and that takes time as well, and I often wonder if there will ever be days where I’m not stuck at the desk. Of course, the gardens keep me on my toes, but I’m still a writer, so there will always be sitting. But it doesn’t have to be eight hours a day, five days a week.

This Libran is looking for a little balance (as usual)

So retiring from sleep is really a self-care move. While nudging me closer to retirement in general, it means I’ll have shed all but one of my main clients from my schedule (when I first moved to Kingston, I had five).

My new ASUS Zenbook lets me play with my laptop just about anywhere, like it’s a ginormous smartphone. That should get me out of my office on nice days!

That promises more time for staying active without giving up on one of my favorite things: writing to help others. And it means more time to write for pleasure (which I can only do for about two hours at a time anyway).

At any rate, related to MS, my brain function is strongest when I spend more time outside, and my joints and muscles are less stiff and weak for the same reason. The fewer work projects that tether me to my laptop, the better.

Of course, I’ll never give up writing fiction, essays, poetry, etc… but if my work day consists of 2-3 hours a day at the keyboard and 5-6 hours a day outside, that makes for a much healthier lifestyle!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.