Thought of the Week: Goodnight

homer-asleep

Dear readers,

By the time you read this I will be in a hospital. After years of suffering, indecision and procrastination, I’ve finally taken the plunge, and have myself voluntarily committed.

To a sleep clinic. What were you thinking?

For as long as I can remember, I have had trouble with sleep. Not so much actually sleeping – I have no trouble falling asleep. In fact, that’s in part the problem; I can – and do – fall asleep anywhere, anytime. It’s not narcolepsy, in the sense that it’s not uncontrollable, but I go through life with essentially an almost permanent sense of exhaustion. I can fall asleep sitting in a chair during my lunch break; I can fall asleep watching TV. I fall asleep at night with no difficulty. Worryingly, I even doze off when I’m driving (especially in the evening, but sometimes in the morning as well).

Insufficient oxygen during the night can have a definite impact on your general level of alertness and well-being.

Essentially, no matter how much I sleep, I never feel well-rested. I used to think it was just a side-effect of the depression I was suffering, but as things changed and my mind reshaped itself, the perpetual tiredness has remained the same. Often when I’ve had a particularly long night’s rest, I actually feel more tired than if I’d only slept for five or six hours.

upblackbandIt was not so long ago that I was talking with my psychiatrist, and he happened to ask me how I’ve been sleeping. I gave my usual answer – I sleep well, no trouble falling asleep, etc. – but also thought to mention the fact that my wife has told me that I snore a lot. As in, a lot. She ends up getting far less rest than I do, because I’m constantly keeping her awake. (I haven’t bothered to tell her that she snores too, because I rarely wake up when I’m sleeping). And he pointed out that snoring can be a symptom of a lack of oxygen whilst sleeping. He also pointed out that insufficient oxygen during the night can have a definite impact on your general level of alertness and well-being.

photoAnd so he recommended that I look into having a sleep study done, and although I’ve put it off for quite a few months, I finally made the call. Up until now, I kept wondering if it was really true, or if it was just something inherent to me. I kept wanted to get one of those health bands that can track your steps and workouts and sleep patterns, and just the other day I finally bought the Jawbone Up (my wife was less than thrilled that I spent money on this trinket when there are better uses it could be put to), and it’s been fascinating to see what it’s telling me. Last night I spent about 7½ hours asleep (more than average, but it’s my day off today), but far more fascinating was the long of deep vs. light sleep. It even shows that I woke up briefly in the middle of the night (I don’t know if I went to pee or just rolled over in bed).

But as fascinating as this is, it’s not terribly scientific, and the accuracy may be dubious. So that’s why I’m having this done professionally. I’m actually very interested to see what the results of tonight’s tests are – and if there’s anything that can be done about it. It would be wonderful to feel awake once again; and far more wonderful to have a less cranky wife.

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22 thoughts on “Thought of the Week: Goodnight

  1. I suspect anything identified/fixed in the deep sleep portion of your life will result in grand improvements in other areas you are struggling with – – – In case you haven’t done so, go read the list of ‘side effects’ of sleep deprivation – – – :>)
    Latest I read is scientists still don’t fully understand why we sleep and dream or all the mechanisms, but one thing they do know for sure – –
    Continual lack of quality sleep and interrupted dream patterns results in hell on earth for the patient…..

    • It’s funny how much I’ve been reading up on sleep now that I’ve had the study done, particularly about the different sleep stages and their effect on mental awareness and alertness. Certainly, the thrashing and movement can’t be part of deep or REM sleep, as the muscles are meant to become completely relaxed in these stages. The UP band has definitely been helping to track exactly what I’m doing through the night. In fact, I even had a dream about sleeping last night!

  2. Both my husband and I snore pretty badly, but from his reports, I suspect I may be worse. We both now sleep with earplugs. I’ll be interested to learn what YOU learn from this study. I wonder if I should get one done . . .

    • Earplugs don’t sound like too bad of an idea; the concern though was with the underlying cause. It’s not too pleasant to think I might be suffocating myself in my sleep!

    • We tried the nasal strips for a bit – it seemed to help a bit, but it definitely wasn’t a cure. I suppose it depends on the extent and cause of the problem. My understanding is that they essentially help to widen the nasal passages.

    • Basically my concern, too. I’ll have to wait for the diagnosis, but one of the things on the questionnaire was whether I’d be happy to sleep with tubes up my nose for the rest of my life as a solution.

    • Well, lucky you! (By the way, I’m not sure if you mean you’re amazing at getting rest or at existing, but either way – lucky you.) I am looking forward to seeing if there are any ways I can get a better night’s sleep.

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