28 February 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things: R is for Rest

Rest.  Something most people take for granted.  You lay your tired ol' bones down at night, you sleep, it’s as simple as that.  But for me, it’s not, and it never has been, as long as I can remember.  No matter how exhausted I am, I’m going to lie there for a half hour, maybe longer, unable to simply shut off my brain and go to sleep.  And I guarantee that I’ll wake up at least twice a night, at least by 4 am, often unable to go back to sleep, sometimes sleep surfing all night long.

I’ve tried so many different things.  I’ve eliminated caffeine after noon.  I tried eliminating it altogether, but couldn’t function and got headaches.  Now I limit myself to one or two servings in the morning, never after lunchtime.  I tried Ambien, but it gives me serious memory issues.  I’ll forget entire conversations that take place after taking the stuff.  Not that I talk that much to begin with, but I’ll forget not just what we talked about, but forget that the entire conversation took place at all.  I’ve tried melatonin, currently up to 60mg a night.  The only effect seems to be that I’m groggy when I wake up in the middle of the night.

I even went for a sleep study a couple of years ago.  I got myself hooked up to all kinds of wires and “slept” on camera.  The results?  The first time, I “slept” for 8 minutes.  That’s 8 minutes out of 8 ½ hours.  Although I didn’t lie “awake” all night, I only got down into REM sleep for 8 minutes all night long.  My oxygen levels dropped as low as 70%.  I snored.  Not bad, but enough to restrict my airway.  So they prescribed a CPAP machine; a 50 pound muzzle that blows hurricane force winds up your nose all night. I used it for about 3 months.  The results?  I stayed “asleep” for about 2 hours then tossed and turned the rest of the night, REMming for maybe 3 hours total, never longer than an hour and a half at a time.  I put the thing on its lowest setting, adjusted the straps as loose as I could and still get a good seal around my nose and mouth.  It’s loud.  It’s obnoxious. It’s uncomfortable.  It would keep my wife awake, and there’s no sense in both of us being awake all night. And it made no appreciable difference in my sleep patterns.  I still sleep off and on, and only about half of the night.

So what do I do?  The answer at this point seems to be: live with it.  Sleep poorly.  Fight to stay awake during the day and stare at the ceiling from 10PM til midnight.  The only thing I haven’t tried yet is a “hard reset” of my body clock.  Basically, you deprive yourself of sleep, sleeping one hour a night for a week, following a strict regimen of bedtimes to try to force your body onto a set schedule.  IF you survive, you should be so absolutely exhausted that your body will surrender and sleep at whatever time it’s allowed to.  If you don’t have a heart attack first.  Or a stroke.  Studies show these are the consequences.
Such wonderful choices.  And what happens the first time I don’t keep that boffo new schedule?  Am I back to square one?  Did I go through all that pain and agony for nothing?  At this point, the status quo looks like the least undesirable option.  At least I can stay awake to write my………


jenn said...

hey there! i’m jenn, one of tina’s minions for the a to z blog challenge. just wanted to drop by and introduce myself and say welcome to the challenge!

i took ambien for a bit. and one night, i'd logged into blogger, titled a post and hit publish. when i woke the next day, i checked my blog and saw that... i had absolutely no recollection of doing that the night before. so yeah, that stuff will mess you up. i don't take it anymore.

Glenda Cates said...

Have a great week and a wonderful post and I look forward to visiting again soon.