Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor

I really thought that I would be spared from having to write this whinging little note, but, alas, I have not been spared, and, now, neither have you.

You see, after several weeks of fitful sleeps, I was able to enjoy three decent nights in a row. Instead of tossing and turning and getting a mere four or five hours of adequate rest, for three nights I enjoyed the best part of seven or eight hours of blessed sleep. My, what a treat that was.

Then came last night. I can't fathom any reason for it being different. I wasn't on a caffeine overload; I wasn't particularly worried about anything. They say that it's good to read at bedtime, so I did: until two o'clock when I finished the book. "So, AC let's retire to sweet dreams now."

Sadly, it was not to be. I listened to soothing music only to find it more irritating than anything. I lay there, trying to be calm, but I felt alert, almost wired. Sometime after three o'clock, I gave up and got back up and puttered away at this and that. On most really bad nights, I find that tiredness finally engulfs me at around four o'clock, but not last night. Oh no! I was up until after five o'clock.

Although I can't put my finger on any specific cause last night, I do experience strange corporeal conditions that are not conducive to long, peaceful sleeps. A major impediment is heat and sweat. Sometime in the past number of years, my body has decided that it should become a heat pump at night: to the extent that my beloved one sleeps about as far away from me as possible. I don't always sweat, but neither is it entirely uncommon for me to have to get up and change my drenched apparel.

To some extent, I have thought that my diet might contribute to this boiler phenomenon. There have been times when I have thought that I could attribute my troubles to too much sugar and refined carbs. While I believe that there is something to my theory, there are certainly times when I boil despite eating relatively well and times when I don't boil even though I have indulged too much.

Then there's my cold shoulder: my own literal cold shoulder, not the figurative one sometimes presented to me by others. Oh, it doesn't feel cold to the touch, but it feels cold inside my skin ... or brain. I have some deterioration in my upper back, and it has been suggested that this cold sensation stems from that: some sort of nerve response, like the tingling in my legs and feet from lower back degeneration, I suppose.

This cold shoulder sensation doesn't always bother me a lot, but it almost always bothers me some, and it tends to be most noticeable when I am really suffering from one my aforementioned heat attacks. I guess my general heat tends to emphasize the local coldness. I don't know.

Of course, my numerous trips to the loo don't help. On a typical night, I'll be up three to five times. On a good night I may get up every three hours; on a bad night, when I am already restless, I'll be on the prowl much sooner. Fortunately, when I am sleeping relatively well, although I don't suppose that I ever sleep really, really well these days, I can get up and down and fall right back to sleep. But, of course, on nights when I am a bit off to begin with, these nocturnal ramblings don't help one iota.

I've tried sleeping pills. For years I took a sleeping pill on most nights when I had to get up and work the next day. I seemed to need to do this, for I could be almost mind-numbingly tired and still lie awake at night. I guess it's because I'm a night owl by disposition; I'm much more a night person than a morning person although some people dispute the notion that I am much of a person at any time.

So, I took Flurazepam (Dalmane?) for many years. In the past year, however, I have noticed that these little fellas seem to affect my disposition the next day. Because they seem to render me somewhat grumpy and/or depressed, I now desist from using them.

Because I am retired and can set my own pace, I generally get by despite my nighttime woes. There are times, however, when it becomes important to enjoy a decent night. Let's say that there's something going on the next day, or we're visiting, and I am cooped up sleepless in a strange bed. In those circumstances it's really not fun to lie awake for much of the night and then be drained on the following day. Sometimes, I just want to break the cycle for a few days and get to bed earlier and get up earlier as well. What I am saying is that a magic pill would certainly help.

I know that the litany of complaints makes me seem like a fragile old codger, but my body seems to hold up reasonably well during the day. I don't much notice heat attacks, cold shoulders, frequent potty trips, or dry feet. Although I'll never run a marathon, I am reasonably active both mentally and physically.

There's nothing much you can do. I know that, but it's been good to get it off my chest. Like I, you are baffled by my heat pump syndrome, and there's nothing you can do to regenerate my spine. As for the potty trips, perhaps the cure, should there be one, would be worse than the condition? But perhaps there's a sleeping pill that I could take every now and then when I really feel the need: one that would help me to drift off without rendering me miserable to be around the next day?




Simply Coll said...

When I first started going through menopause ( my we are getting personal here :-)) I thought I had lost the ability to sleep. I understand completely how you feel. My suggestion is to talk to your Doctor. There are many sleeping aids out there as well as many types of sleeping pills. Everyone needs their sleep. Personally, I often use Zopiclone. It works for me.

Lisa said...

Do you want me to send you some Ambien? You could probably get it cheaper, though, being from Canada and all. :)

Gina said...

I've heard Lunesta and Ambien work well.

And see, creativity flows everywhere! ;)

PBS said...

That totally sucks. Getting enough sleep is necessary to feel human and be able to think clearly. I had something like that going on with me for awhile, but cutting back on coffee comsumption (I was drinking way too much of it during the day) meditation and yoga helped. Have you tried the last two? Of course, getting checked out completely by a doctor would be the best idea!

-epm said...

I've heard of this. I can't remember exactly, but I believe the the root cause was alien posession... No wait... that was a movie. I've got nothin'

While I don't have the panoply of symptoms you describe, I too suffer from unsettled sleep patterns. I'd say that 6 nights out of seven I only get five hours actual sleep. In my case -- all kidding aside -- I'd say it's due to stress.

annie said...

Sometimes I too will get up 3-4 times a night and have to visit the little girl's room. My doctor said I didn't have a bladder infection but drinking caffeine, no matter what time of day, can irritate your bladder. I noticed on the days I don't have caffeine the "call of nature" doesn't come nearly as often.
Just a thought. :)

madcapmum said...

Chive takes a combination of Valerian and Melatonin at night in order to get to sleep and stay asleep. It doesn't have any side effects for him, is herbal rather than pharmaceutical, and doesn't leave him feeling drowsy or hormonal, either. Good luck! Insomnia is horrible.

Ginger said...

Sounds crummy. Wish I had some advice, but perhaps the key is hiding in the responses above. Wishing you a cure.

Iona said...

After reading this,... I'm not looking forward to getting older! Can I stay 29 please?

Christi said...

What does whinging mean?

Anvilcloud said...

It's more of a British expression. Something like a persistent whining is how I tend to think of it. Not much different than whining in my mind. But it's a much cooler word for my money. :)


Bonita said...

I've experenced sleep disturbances (before I retired), and it was due to working too hard, thinking too much...plowing through my day at 90 miles an hour. I have greatly simplified my life, and now get about 9 hours of good sleep a night. Everyone here has made good suggestions. I'll add that you might try reading a book beyond your capability - that always shuts down my brain. Keep it up until your eyes are rolling up into your head. Then, once in bed, count backwards without stopping, starting at 900. I have done this, and the effort causes me to 'pass out'... put a urinal by your bed, do not get out of bed as that will wake you up. Good luck.

mreddie said...

Sorry, I don't have anything to help, I have always been blessed - unless I'm in pain, I drop right off. ec

Turtle Guy said...

you've inspired me to post... i read some educational words today that i think will share...

tom said...

with all due respect...sounds like you need some testing...that shoulder could be a sign of something serious, heaven forbid...Hope things work out..

Granny said...

It's almost 1:00 a.m. PST and here I am awake and commiserating with you.

I have many nights like that which I usually attribute to being too tired to sleep. My body is ready for sleep but the wheels (which I call the committees) in my head won't stop turning.

I don't know how much of mine is due to age, how much to general stress, or what the answer is. Perhaps some of it is having a quiet house and enjoying it too much.

I'm with Tom though. Your body is trying to tell you something and perhaps it's time to listen.

Darlene said...

I go through the same thing far too often, but I haven't taken any meds to try to fall asleep or sleep steadily. True, it's often related to being too cold or too warm. But other times I think, for me, it's related to anxiety--when I should be sleeping, I find myself tossing and turning, going over the problems I've been facing and know I will face the next day.

My husband has trouble sleeping continuously too, but not due to the brain being overloaded. He's not sure what the cause is. Yet this isn't particularly related to age. A young neighbor across the street can't sleep many hours. Same with a young person where I work. The more people I talk with, the more cases I hear of this happening. Wonder if the same thing occurred back in history and we just don't know about it, or if it's something directly related to our times.

Try envisioning yourself on a boat, where you're trying to get a group to safety. Too much noise and the radar "out there" will capture the enemy's attention. You try to hush your passengers and assure them your ruse will work. Suddenly you'll fall asleep. Okay, overactive imagination, but it works for me. Honestly!

Mel said...

I hope you get a good night of sleep--several--soon.