This very personal confession is brought to you today by the WordPress Daily Prompt: Relieved.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I woke up this morning at seven and realized I had slept through the entire night without having to get up and go to the bathroom. How long has it been since that happened?
Back in the day I used to be a world-class sleeper. I could easily sleep for 10 to 12 hours at a clip, and sometimes even longer. And those were solid, deep, nothing-can-wake-me-up kinds of sleep. Total chaos could have been going on around me and I would be able to just sleep through it all.
Things are very different now, though. If I can manage four or five uninterrupted hours of sleep a night, I’m thrilled.
It’s not that I suffer from insomnia. I can usually fall asleep pretty quickly. My problem is that I can’t stay asleep. And the problem can be boiled down to one unfortunate malady. It’s OMS, or as it’s referred to in the New England Journal of Medicine (or would be if they actually did refer to it at all), “Old Man Syndrome.”
OMS is an affliction that usually starts to manifest itself when men enter their sixties and begin to suffer the aches, pains, and indignities that come with age. It is exacerbated by the fact that whatever they were good at when they were in their prime, they simply are not as good at it any more.
My OMS occurs virtually every night somewhere between 2 and 5 a.m. That’s when I wake up and have no option but to get out of bed to go pee. It doesn’t matter whether I stop drinking fluids right at dinnertime or continue to imbibe until just before bedtime.
Disrupted sleep cycles
According to the Cleveland Clinic, another name for Old Man Syndrome is nocturia. Urine normally decreases in amount and becomes more concentrated at night. That means most people can sleep at least 6 to 8 hours or longer without having to urinate. People who have nocturia, though, have to get up during the night to urinate. Because of this, they often have disrupted sleep cycles.
When I first stated experiencing OMS, I’d get up, go pee, get back into bed, and fall back to sleep almost immediately. Unfortunately, my OMS has gotten worse. Now, more often than not, after returning to the warmth and comfort of my bed, I am unable to fall back to sleep. Instead, my mind starts wandering and I toss and turn, sometimes for an hour or two. Sometimes I’m unable to fall back to sleep at all.
But even more disconcerting than this disrupted sleep cycle business is yet another devastating and demoralizing side effect of OMS.
Previously, in an attempt to minimize the sleep deprivation caused by OMS, I would get out of bed, make my way to the bathroom, turn on the light, grip my shlong, aim for the center of the toilet bowl, and let loose.
But then, after I began to lose my ability to rapidly fall back to sleep upon my return to bed, I thought a slight, scientifically based change in the routine might help. You see, according to WebMD, exposure to artificial light at night may reduce sleep quality by suppressing production of the hormone melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Armed with the knowledge that turning on the bathroom light will suppress my production of sleep-inducing melatonin, I no longer turn on the bathroom light when I gotta go at night.
As you might imagine, the outcome of a man peeing while standing erect (the man, not the shlong) in the dark can be a bit messy. And so I now sit my butt down on the toilet seat and let loose.
Yes, it’s true. My OMS has evolved into PLAWS, or the dreaded Pee-Like-A-Woman-Syndrome.
Oh, the horror of it all!