Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tripping Over My Shoes Ep. 5: Sleeping Woes

Here are some cute pictures of my parents' two dogs, Thor (left) and Drake (right). They recently turned 7, but they're still the same goobers they were when we first got them.
No, this post isn't anything about puppies, though I wish it were. Instead I have to complain about sleeping.
I didn't always have sleeping issues. In high school I would stay up until midnight and get up at 4 or 5 in the mornings, no problem. When I'd mentioned that to my doctor at the time, he expressed initial concern. After talking with my mother about whether she believed it affected my waking mood or habits, he concluded that I might just be one of those people that didn't need a lot of sleep. It's rare, but it happens.
When college started, I cut down on my sleep even more. Not really out of necessity. I just wasn't as sleepy. I'd go to sleep around 2 AM and wake up again at 4 or 5, without any alarms.
I don't know when my sleeping habits changed, but some time two years ago I started having issues. I would still stay up late, but when I laid down to go to bed I couldn't fall asleep. I didn't even realize it was an issue until Michael started complaining about it. My tossing and turning would disturb his sleep. Then I wouldn't want to get up in the mornings. If I didn't have to get up, I would easily sleep in until noon, which is incredibly late for me. Not only did I sleep in late, I would still feel groggy when I woke up.
Fast forward to when Michael left for basic. I still had sleeping issues, or I at least started noticing them, and I started realizing how much Michael would do to help me. He would rub my back or talk to me until I fell asleep. He would hold me and let his heartbeat lull me to sleep.
It didn't help that at the time Diana was having some serious separation anxiety. She missed Michael almost as much as I did, and she would stay up late crying at night, interrupting my sleep. I remember the only thing that helped the both of us was to cuddle up in bed and sleep together.
After she died, my sleep worsened. I remember the day she'd died, while waiting for my parents I'd cried myself into exhaustion. I tried to take a nap but every time I fell asleep I would get struck with images of her in the bathtub, the feel of her stiff body in my arms, or my mind would take those memories and morph them into dark beasts, shocking me awake as if I'd just been shot with adrenaline. I remember Michael saying it was the shock. That night I barely got any sleep because of this.
Over time my only way to battle this was to wait until I was absolutely exhausted to go to sleep. It helped that I got a promotion at work and had to work later than ever. I would get home with food and read or put on some YouTube videos until I was falling over from exhaustion. Some nights I would just sleep on the couch. Every morning I would wake up before 7, if I was lucky. Most mornings I was up before 5.
Even though I was up so early, I would drift through my day until about noon. Even once I was fully conscious of my surroundings I would sometimes daze out and forget who I was with or what I was doing. I didn't think anything of it until after I'd already moved to Georgia with Michael and told him all of this offhandedly.
Then I couldn't get to sleep when Michael needed to sleep. I would lay in bed from 9 until well after midnight, tossing and turning. Even as I 'slept' I would toss and turn, acutely aware of my surroundings. When I woke up in the mornings, I would have to force my body into movement in order to prevent myself from falling asleep.
Michael suggested seeing a doctor. I still don't want to go. I've been fighting since then, saying that I will only go as a last resort.
I've been forcing myself to get up when Michael gets up. At 3:50 AM. My logic is that I will be so exhausted by the time 9 PM rolls around I will have nothing to do but fall asleep. It's partially working. Some nights are better than others. Another thing I've tried is taking over the counter sleep medication, on really bad nights. I'm terrified of becoming dependent on drugs to sleep, so I only take those as a last ditch effort. Some medications work better than others. Ironically, NyQuil works better than ZzzQuil for me. I found it out one night after taking some NyQuil for a cold I had been battling for a few weeks.
Working out doesn't really affect my sleep levels. I haven't noticed any difference between days I work out and days I don't workout. There's really no rhyme or reason to whether my sleep will be good or bad. It's not my use of electronics, either. While we were camping and I did not touch my phone at all, I still had these same issues.
Overall, though, I've noticed improvements. So long as I force myself awake in the mornings at a fairly consistent time, I'm pretty alert for most of the day. Falling asleep varies on a night by night basis, but I'm having more good nights than bad. If I feel the need to nap in the middle of the day I can without it affecting my night time sleep. Some days I need to nap, others I don't.
The only thing I can do is try and be consistent in my sleep schedule. It doesn't help my sleep itself so much as it helps my personal sanity.

2 comments:

  1. Ya know, they say don't force sleep, that if you lay down and can't get to sleep within however minutes you're supposed to get back up and try again later. Of course, they also say consistency helps, to go to bed and get up the same times every day. Go figure. lol

    It can't be easy getting a routine set with the moving you've done and with not having a job at the moment. And to be thinking about moving again? That's a lot on the mind.

    Do you have background noise while you try to sleep? Whether a radio or a fan/white noise type? Maybe try it. Or if you do, maybe try without it. We always have a radio playing softly all night but there are times when my mind is just racing from stress or whatnot and I find I need silence in the room just to try and wind my brain down into nothingness.

    My sleep goes in spurts during the night. Usually if I get a 90 minute chunk of sleep, I'm doing great. I'm usually waking up every hour and tossing/turning for about 20 minutes before falling back asleep for another hour. *sigh*

    ~Deb

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  2. I hope sleep comes easier and easier bit by bit. I have been an old lady all my life as far as sleep. I love it and go to bed at ten, wake at 6-7 and nap sometimes. Naps are so yummy. I struggled with sleep loss in pregnancy and with babies but it was such a haze that I don't remember much about how I coped. Savanna didn't sleep through the night for nine months -_0

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