Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sleepless Nights

You can read about my on-going sleep problems here if you really feel like it, or if you're thinking geez this sounds familiar haven't I read that somewhere before? Sleep just hasn't come easy to me since I was 14 years old. When I went to the doctor last year he merrily prescribed what is technically known as "a shitload" of Ambien and sent me on my way.

Sometime last February or March I was failing to breathe for long periods of time when I was asleep, and I was also waking up with splitting headaches. Off I went for a sleep study and they found that I had slightly higher than normal sleep apnea, so slight that there wasn't anything my doctor could do (like prescribe a cpap machine, which would have been overkill). I heard Dr. Oz (the Oprah guy) say that losing even 5% of your weight would significantly lower the # of apneaic episodes you experience, and since I've lost some weight the morning headaches have completely disappeared. Which is all one big long way of saying that I can rule out the major physical causes of insomnia.

I'm back into a cycle of sleeplessness. Maybe it's the change in light, I don't know. I do everything I'm supposed to- I get lots of sunshine in the morning, I exercise way more than I ever have before, I avoid caffeine, I avoid alcohol for a few hours before bed, I don't eat big meals late in the day, and I only use my bed for sleep. I mean SERIOUSLY!? What's a girl to do?

All of this came to a head for me last night. The two nights before that I took 5 mg of Ambien (1/2 a tablet) and slept like a baby. I'm afraid of being hooked on sleeping pills- that'll just make the whole thing worse. So last night I was reading. And reading. And reading. Usually I get really sleepy when I read and I just roll over and turn out the light. But last night I had to force myself to turn the light out at 2:00. And then I lay there wide awake with thoughts flying through my head and got kind of freaked out because I tend to get panic attacks at night and sometimes just being that unsettled in that situation is enough to trick my brain into thinking it's panic time. So I popped that light back on and read some more. I couldn't tell you when I went to sleep. But I had to be up at 6:45 to go to work and I've felt really wired and jumpy all day because of sleep deprivation.

Lately I've had the feeling that this has more to do with anxiety than insomnia. I can't say that this was the best summer and maybe now things are catching up with me. Fall is a tough time in the best of years. Now I am thrown off by the littlest things, things that shouldn't be hitting me hard, they should instead just float on by. But instead BAM I feel like I've been socked in the jaw.

So what's normal? I have been an anxious person for most of my life- I have to be careful how I respond to stress. I go through periods of mild depression and I think that's NORMAL, as in most people experience depression at different times, not as in "this is normal for my life- why change it?" But when do I get to a point where I need more help? And what about when behavioral therapy doesn't work anymore- do I go on meds? And will they make me worse than I was in the opposite direction? (Instead of racing thoughts do I turn into a zombie?) I don't want to not care, I just want things to settle down a little so I can SLEEP, which doesn't seem unreasonable. And watch me freak out over the idea that I'm going to need just a little more help than I can give myself with what I learned in therapy. Maybe it is just time for a tune-up. Or maybe looking back this is just a bad time of year in general and if I give myself a couple of weeks I'll snap right out of it.

No comments: