Saturday, May 28, 2005

Oh Bafooey

I have a problem. In point of fact, I, no doubt, have many problems, but the problem which is my recurring bête noire (almost literally) is sleep. It has been so for some time now.

Recently, when I have summoned to courage to trundle off to bedland at a reasonable hour, I have frequently been forced to endure a most vexing first few hours. I toss and turn, steam and boil, frequently change my soaked shirt, wander from bed to bed in vain search for the magic combination. For the most part, this vexation occurs in the hours before two a.m. That's one reason that I am not entirely loathe to endure my own solitary company until the wee hours while my better half slumbers, for, frequently, I find that if I force myself to remain awake until two o'clock or so, the demons of restless and sweltering heat torment me not.

I don't know what's behind all of this, and it doesn't seem to concern my doctor. I forgive the poor man because when I approached him with this complaint not long ago, he was much more concerned about trying to find to cause of my three-week headache. I mean that could have been a serious indicator of some sort. Who knows what caused my rather prolonged mal de tête, but it seems to be dissipating without benefit of medical interference?

For the most part, I cope well with my nightly forays into night sweats and the like. I don't terribly mind staying up and putting at the puter or whatever else springs to mind. On most mornings I have the luxury of lying in long enough that I am able to get sufficient sleep to remain blithe and sprightly. Oh, I never sleep until noon; in fact, I'm often up by 8:00, but I sometimes fall prey to the temptation of grabbing an extra hour, or possibly two.

But I can't always do that. Sometimes I have to be on the ball in the morning. This is most problematic for someone who suffers the above symptoms and who is also not in any way, shape, or form inclined to be a morning person. There are larks and owls, and I am an owl who prefers to eat larks rather than chirp with them. But I do find that if I can muster more than six hours of sleep and get up by eight in the morning, that I can occasionally be semi-convivial by about ten o'clock, which coincidentally, happens to be a most appropriate time to head out on the bikes when we've planned a major excursion.

But here's my dirty little secret. I take sleeping pills! Not often, not every night, sometimes not for weeks at a time, but I take them when I feel the need to blend myself into a more normal (for the rest of the world) schedule. They aren't particularly strong, addictive pills — in the flurazepam/dalmane family. I can take one or two for a day or two or even longer without experiencing too many miserable side-effects.

However, in my recent desperation to get on a normal cycle, last night I took two pills and that was the third night in a row that I had done that. Today, I paid the price, and so did Cuppa, I'm afraid. I was down, and I was dreary. I was enervated, and I was moody. I was not having fun, and I was not being fun. Usually, a bike ride shakes that sort of mood, but it didn't today. However, by late afternoon, my usual bonhomie seemed to be struggling to reassert itself. About bloody time, mate!

Sometimes, I'm even not sure whether it's the pills. Perhaps, it is just coincidence. Whatever the cause, I don't like myself when I get like that, and I can assure you that Cuppa doesn't exactly revel in these moods either. To her credit, however, she never wavers, never rises to the bait, lets my misery run its course with little admonition because she knows that this too shall pass.

I'll tell you one thing though. You won't find me ingesting a sleeping pill tonight. If I miss a few hours sleep, even for a few days in a row, I can usually manage well enough. I just don't look forward to those blazingly hellish hours that so often lurk in the late nights and early mornings. So, I am torn. Do I turn in now, at just after 11:00 p.m., or do I force myself to stay up until the fiendish hours have passed? I'm rather tired, so I guess I'll try the first option tonight. Who knows whose blog I might be checking three hours from now, however?



-epm said...

Hmmm... Could it be MEN-opause?

No, maybe not.

I was down, and I was dreary. I was enervated, and I was moody. I was not having fun, and I was not being fun.

This pretty much sums up my normal state of being, so I'm afraid I'm not fully appreciating your problem. Wish I could help. Sorry.

By the way, if you set that complaint to a country beat, and add something about a truck, I think you'll have a hit!

Melodee said...

I'm a nightowl myself and cannot go to bed before 11 p.m. or I can't sleep. My husband doesn't understand this--he can sleep anytime, anywhere! I hope you are peacefully sleeping right now!

blue2go said...

Sleep problems can certainly cause other health problems, besides just being annoying! I hate lying awake, but have been sleeping much better lately because of several changes. I cut back on the coffee, thought it wasn't affecting me, but it was. Have fewer covers on the bed, easier to do in the spring and summertime! I eat dinner earlier and don't eat or drink many hours before bed. All those things have helped, but everyone is different. Hope you get enough sleep!

Keith "Nurse Keith" Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC said...

As a nurse, I often advise my patients regarding "sleep hygeine". One thing is to have a ritualized bedtime. If that doesn't work, then you need to have a ritualized "get out of bed time". Meaning, no matter when you go to sleep, you have to get up at the same time every day in order to adjust your internal clock. Yes, that may mean only getting four hours of sleep on some nights, but just like when trying to adjust to a new time zone, you have to force yourself to get up and then stay awake no matter what, at least until you are sleeping better again.

Regarding the pills, these can become problematic, especially if you are taking more and more. Your body will begin to rely on them, and you will develop a psychological dependence, not necessarily a physical one. You will eventually feel that you cannot sleep without putting that pill between your lips. Food for thought. That said, pills are great as a "prn" but nothing more.

I agree with the other commenter on not eating or drinking before bed. I would recommend no food after 8pm and no caffeine at all after 3pm. Do you drink soda? Coffee? Chocolate? All of these will disrupt sleep patterns.

Yogic breathing is also helpful. Alternate nostril breathing is not difficult and I could teach you by email. Doing a simple stretching routine before bed, especially of the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps (since you are an avid biker) can really relax the muscles, as well. If your hamstrings are tight, tossing and turning will almost always result!

For myself, I now see an acupuncturist and she mixes me up batches of Chinese herbs for insomnia. I take a spoonful in a cup of Sleepytime tea with honey and milk before bed each night and it works wonders.

Sweet dreams.

karla said...

Votre français est très impressionnant!

Mais avez-vous essayé compter des mouton?

Christi said...

Ummmm, we don't all speak French!

You could be pregnant. I have been having the same symptoms entirely. Perhaps you should have your doc do an ultrasound. I can promise you'd never have to worry about money again!

Anonymous said...

I am a firm believer in the occasional sleeping pill, if you can keep it occasional. I also take Valerian in standarized herbal extract (Nature's Resource) and though it doesn't put me to sleep, when I do fall alseep, I sleep deeply and I can get away with less sleep. I also occasionally take Ambien instead of a sleeping pill, but it just knocks me out and I don't really feel like I've slept. I've started taking it with the valerian (one knocking me out and the other helping me sleep deeply) and it seems to be a nice combo. good luck.

Valerie - Still Riding Forward said...

ok, hate to be the bad guy here. The tossing and turning, if added to drifting off then waking yourself up for no apparent reason may indicate a breathing problem.

Ask the doc for a sleep study and find out if you have sleep apnea.

The machine that makes it better sucks but live is better with it than without it.