Monday, October 15, 2012

Essentials, like sleep and oxygen

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
-John Muir

A journey of any length is a collaboration of body, mind, and spirit.

Hiking in the Sierras is the best way I know to unplug and get in sync. Walking all day long calms my thoughts. The air is fragrant with pine needles and cones and sap. Incense cedars, with bark just like redwoods. The air smells so good that you just want to breathe.

Breathing is a problem, though. It's not evident during the day, with plenty of distractions and things to engage in. But at night... That ethereal thin air, so refreshing in daylight, so frustrating when you wake up at 2am every night. And at 5am.

Hiking in the Sierras may be a pleasure but maybe not the best medicine for brain injury. As exercise, hiking is not vigorous enough to force blood into your brain. There is such a thing as too relaxed!

And the thin air definitely deprives your brain of oxygen. So I might be calm and happy, but I'm also stupid.

Finally, sleep, sleep... sleep is essential for well-being. Coming at the end of a long, light summer, after this trip I just didn't feel rested at all. Cranky, off-balance.

Sleep is really important for recovery after TBI. And unfortunately, many of us survivors have some sort of sleep disturbance. Sleep can be disturbed by brain changes after the injury, by psychological challenges of dealing with the injury, or by medications. I thought this presentation gave a good summary.

Anyway, this is the worst I've ever slept at elevation in my whole life. Back at home, I'm making up for lost time, sleeping and napping with abandon. Doing not much else. Feels great.

1 comment :

  1. I like the second photo.
    It's funny - I always thought sleep was a nice-to-have, something of a luxury on those mornings I slept in. Then I stopped sleeping, and realized in a hurry how important it really is. Glad to hear you're getting more!