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Updated on August 28, 2012

Work to be Done on Little Sleep

Cleaning under the saw mill in wee morning hours.
Cleaning under the saw mill in wee morning hours. | Source

When a Routine Doesn't Work Anymore

We have all at one time or another been a victim of routines to some extent. Routines often control very much who we are as well as what we do. Perhaps something as small as locking your doors before going to bed is a routine to many of us. For others laying out clothing for work or school, getting a coffee pot ready the night before or taking the dog out becomes a part of their nightly routine. But what if all of the sudden the routine doesn’t work anymore? Circumstances beyond our control, changes our routines as to how we both function and act throughout our day. Our job changes, putting us working different hours or following different rules demanded by our employers. We no longer have a dog to care for or our children grow up becoming independent and no longer need help to prepare for their daily events. Sometimes changing our routines will change who we have become. Not only does it change the time we do things, but by a sudden change in sleep habits, meal times and time needed to do other important tasks we could become a different person in the way we live.

I have often wondered if the so called rut people refer to have being in is nothing more than a routine which simply does not work anymore. At least, this would be the right definition. Over the years, I have become a victim to bad routines and even though changing them were done out of need, it wasn’t always favorable at the time.

Routines Can Change Our Lifestyle

For years my husband, Bill and I both worked full time jobs during the daylight hours. Bill was laid off after working over thirty years at the same job with the same hours and the same daily routines. Prior to this lay off he had worked with health problems requiring him to take medications regularly and restrict himself from certain activities such as heavy lifting to avoid complications. His employer at the lumber company was forced to leave him on lay off for nearly a year before calling him back to work partly because of these restrictions. Bill welcomed the time off, but the routine he was accustomed too was forever changed.

With time on his hands and nothing to do, Bill begin to help out with the house cleaning and the cooking. I was still working days. I was grateful, but not use to him ever helping out before, not even when the kids were home, when I needed his help desperately. This routine changed both of us. He actually admitted how hard it must have been for me doing these tasks alone and working full time away from home, especially when the kids were growing up. He finally understood why many times we lived in a pig stein. And he finally was aware of the messes he made for me to either walk around or clean up every day. This was a good routine change which I know I became too dependent on. I began to take up hobbies again I was passionate about. I know had I not found this bit of extra time and energy I would not have got back into trying to polish my writing skills.

Big Routine Changes Can Be Unhealthy

When Bill was called back to work, it wasn’t the job he had left at all. He was given a night shift, 7 p.m.-7 a.m. where he was given clean up detail and tended to the wood-burning boiler used for steam to dry lumber sheds. A big change of routine of not only hours, but the days he had off was changed, too. He had three days off one week and four the next. His work week either started on a Wednesday or a Thursday leaving him working Saturday night into Sunday morning. If a holiday fell on his turn to work then he had to work the holiday.

Bill loved doing the work week with fewer days, but the long over night hours raised chaos on his unhealthy body mostly because his sleep habits were changed. He was sleeping somewhat better as time went on and thought he could handle this routine. Maybe he could have if no other issues had come up. Medications that were keeping his heart working accurately had to keep having the doses changed from time to time. He was doing okay until last fall when he suffered from Cellulites which may have started from an unknown type of insect bite. The large bright lights at the lumber company drew insects galore during the night.

Months of treating the cellulites left Bill with edema and gout as an added nuisance. He needed to sleep with his legs elevated high to reduce swelling. As the months went on the problem with missing sleep overpowered him, he seldom slept for more than an hour at a time. His day off was usually dealt with the same sleep patterns. He was miserable most of the time. He fell asleep doing every day task yet couldn’t sleep once he went to bed. I worried about him being alone both at work and at home. He admitted to falling asleep driving home sometimes. He managed to wake up before an accident had occurred, but it scared him and it scared me knowing he did it. With all this trouble his attention span was slim. He couldn’t remember things he should have known well. I truly believe his change in routine messed his immune system up. This is how it affected him.

I was affected in other ways by Bill’s change of routine. It seemed everything bothered his sleeping. I’d try to be as quiet as possible so he could sleep. I work days giving him plenty of time to sleep without me there to bother him. His cat naps were often at any given time, but none were long enough. If I tried to do housework or laundry I bothered his sleeping even though I thought he was awake. If I worked quietly at my computer so he could sleep, he would wake after a short time bothering me trying to write or read. Three or four days a week I had a few hours while he worked to either catch up on housework or write. Both were often neglected. Bill’s routine changed my routine. And neither was working for either of us. The bad routine was certainly a rut we needed out of.

Another Routine Change I Hope Will Work This Time

Finally after over two years of living with a bad routine we are changing it again. Bill is now working 3 p.m. - 11 p.m. five days during the week. His weekends are free, the hours are fewer and he is sleeping better. But with him getting home at midnight and not being very quiet when he gets here and me having to be up at 5:30 a.m. is going to upset my sleep time. Maybe I don’t need the amount of sleep I thought I did. Time will tell. I cannot nap and never could so I won’t catch it up that way. Maybe my house will be cleaner and I’ll have time to write without interruptions if I’m not too tired to try. I hope this new routine works.

Supper time will certainly be interesting. I see a lot of crock pot meals in our future. But for now it has pretty much been for each our own. I can now have meals more acceptable to someone trying to shed pounds. This new routine may help with the regiment I’ve been trying to incorporate. Write don’t eat.

While I Slept His Night Shift Left Him Sleepless

More Sawdust to Haul Away
More Sawdust to Haul Away | Source

Updates: Aug. 28, 2012

This new routine is working and Bill is feeling better than he has in a long time. I'm finding more time to myself to write and I've even started a novel. Routines can sometimes be good even when we don't have a choice in them.


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    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      7 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, carozy. My husband is getting more sleep and is feeling much better. I have also been able to drown out any noise he makes when he gets home, so I can sleep. At least most of the nights are restful. Bad routines can cause problems for everyone around you.

    • carozy profile image


      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Reminds me of some recent thoughts I've been having about habits. Good writing!

    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      7 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, Wanda. I value your opinion. I certainly am trying and practice helps.

    • profile image

      Wanda Anglin 

      7 years ago

      Diana - love this - so insightful - helped me reflect on some routines in my life and the impact they are having on my well-being. Your writing skill amazes me as you continue to grow as an "artist" of words.


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