Monday, October 24, 2011

Question of the Week:
Up All NIght?

Insomnia has never been my thing. I have always been the girl who gets plenty of sleep at night. Even back in college, if I was up all night, I made up for it by sleeping in the next day. And after my early 20s there was no way I could stay up all night.

Before my trip-and-fall, before the fibromyalgia diagnosis, before my life with chronic illness, every once in awhile I'd have problems sleeping at night. Now it's become an almost a daily occurrence.

At first I tried all the things you're supposed to do when you have problems falling asleep.

I kept a regular bedtime routine, including going to bed at the same time each night. If I couldn't fall asleep right away, I meditated or counted sheep. I didn't get too upset if I couldn't fall asleep. I was patient and waited until I got sleepy. That meant sometimes turning the light back on and reading a book until I felt more sleepy.

Then turning the light back on became the norm.

Now I know, whatever I do, falling asleep at a "decent" hour just isn't in the cards for me. I've given up fighting to fall asleep on a "normal" schedule.  My life is ruled by an altered sleep schedule, my delayed phase sleep disorder.

Every night I'm able to fall asleep before 6 a.m. I consider myself lucky.

I've tried sleeping pills. When I took Lunesta on a regular basis I wound up with horrible rebound insomnia. I tried antidepressants to help me sleep better, but I haven't had such great luck with those kind of medications.  My last attempt was using an anti-psychotic medication, Seroquel, which was prescribed off-label for me.  I stopped it a few months back because it was contributing to poor control of my type 2 diabetes.

I had a sleep study done and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I religiously use an auto CPAP machine which is effectively managing this disorder.  I wish I could tell you that I am getting better sleep and have more energy, but I do not. (In case you were wondering, I did not snore or have other tell-tale signs of sleep apnea.)

It is interesting to note that I suffered similar shifts in my sleep pattern in 1988 when I was being treated for the blood cancer leukemia and in 1995 when I injured by back and spent three months on temporary disability because of the pain.  Apparently there is something to physical illnesses causing sleep disorders.

So how many of you are up all night like me?  Better yet, what have you discovered that has helped you battle sleep disorders?  Please share that valuable information with me here and everyone else over on the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page.

To sleep

A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by,
One after one; the sound of rain and bees
Murmuring; the fall or rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky;
I have thought of all by turns, and yet do lie,
Sleepless! And soon the small birds' melodies
Must hear, first uttered from my orchard trees;
And the first cuckoo's melancholy cry.
Even thus last night, and two nights more, I lay,
And could not win thee, Sleep! By any stealth:
Soon do not let me where tonight away:
Without Thee what is all the morning's wealth?
Come, blessed barrier between day and day,
Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!

~William Wordsworth

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Chelle said...


The amount of medication and combination that I take every night to get myself to sleep would probably kill a person who didn't have a tolerance. My psychiatrist put me on a double dose of my sleep medication and I add benadryl and pain medication to it. And sometimes that doesn't work either. It's been better recently and I'm not sure why. I'm not doing anything differently.

I get up and come back downstairs when I can't fall asleep. If it's been 10 to 15 minutes and I am wide awake, I know there's no point to lying there. I come down and read or watch tv until I do get sleepy. Sometimes it's fibro pain keeping me up. Sometimes it's stress. Sometimes it's because I'm upset. Sometimes there is no reason.

I wish I had some suggestions for you. I just don't. I've suffered from primary insomnia all of my life and it really causes problems with having kids who need to go to school and get up at 6:30 in the morning. I usually go back to bed after they leave and that's the time when I don't have a problem falling asleep. Maybe if sleep is something your body is craving, it makes it easier or something?

Wish I could be more help.


Kathy said...

Chelle, me too. I've told doctors what I'm on and they've blanched.

But my old rhuemy used to say "whatever works" and gave me what he thought I needed. Believe me we tried everything else. Ambien made me "lose" (to amnesia) almost an entire week and my paycheck to a brand new wardrobe that I had no knowledge of buying (taking that back was fun).

Unfortunately I now have a new doctor and he wants me to go to a sleep doctor and go through all the stuff I should have gone through when I was first diagnosed. My anxiety was so sky-high back in those days I freaked and bailed out of the sleep study. Maybe this time will be better.

But I guess the combo of benzos, muscle relaxers and Trazadone is going to have to change. Which sucks because it has worked for me. And I'm not dead yet.

So where's the problem? Well, in 5 years I've migrated from .5mg on benzo to 5.5mg. Eventually it will kill me to try to get to sleep.

Wish I could help, Selena, but I'm right there with you...