Saturday, January 04, 2014

insomniac nights

last week i had two insomniac nights.

i do not often talk in this blog about chronic illness because this blog is about things that interest me and chronic illness is neither edible nor entertaining and is therefore of little interest to me although it figures prominently in my life.

but a couple of nights of insomnia will scare the pants right off of me, because i have learned that if i get lots of sleep and fresh air and exercise and good food and have projects to do i live almost normal and i hardly can remember being very sick and then if i have too many nights without sleep it gets deadly dangerous.

your body needs those hours of sleep to heal itself. there's a lot it can do while you're awake but there are actual mechanisms of healing and cleaning that take place on a cellular level only when you're asleep.

i live close enough to the edge that i pretty much NEED all my sleep just to keep me going. it is the physiological equivalent, i guess, of living paycheck to paycheck.

one insomniac night makes me feel unwell for days and puts me at risk.

two insomniac nights and things start to break down. i can't regulate body temperature, my digestion goes wonky, i lose some muscle control, things that hurt hurt a LOT, and the crazy comes and sits on my shoulder.

happily, i have been around the block enough times to know that it's time to change the sheets and do all the little things that will lull me into a night of lovely dreamless sleep even if it means putting everything else on hold.

i have done this enough times to know that when this happens i should not make any life-changing decisions, nor should i take on any stresses, and that may very well include the stress of leaving the house or getting off the sofa.

whatever it is, it can wait.

and then i get a good night's sleep and i feel almost normal again.

two nights sleep and i'm ready to do laundry and roast cauliflower and go snowshoeing.

it's a delicate dance.


Kristin @ Going Country said...

I'm so glad you feel able to roast cauliflower again.

Though I don't react so much to interrupted sleep (small children sort of condition the body to dealing with less sleep), I do start to lose it a little if there is too much noise and physical contact. So perhaps you can imagine my state of mind last night at 8:30, driving three hours from the airport after over 12 hours in airports and planes. My youngest child had been literally on my person all day and my oldest child was in complete meltdown and I might have told my husband that I could not listen to his babbling about the low temperatures and to please stop talking RIGHT NOW(he was tracking the below-zeero temperatures on our car thermometer as we drove home).

I was not a nice person.

I didn't get enough sleep last night thanks to totally sleep-screwed-up kids, and my house is freezing and filthy and I will spend all day cleaning and doing laundry and trying to get my life back in order, but I got two hours of quiet, non--physical-contact time this morning. That's my equivalent of recharging for cauliflower roasting.

flask said...

so, i should come over there and give you a big squishy hug and make chitchat with you?

just kidding.

you are some kind of superhero in my book.

have a happy and uncomplicated normalization.

Karen said...

I am so sorry your body has such a miserable reaction! I am already crazy but your description of how you feel after two nights of no sleep is how I feel after an overnight nursing shift. It's hard to explain to staffing personnel why I often refuse.
I haven't ever slept well- since birth, can't fall asleep, can't stay asleep. Hylands Calms helped but I think they stopped making it. Now 1/2 of a 3mg Melatonin is a manna from Heaven. (5mg and up gives me terrible nightmares).
Like you must, I have a rigid bedtime routine and must have a certain environment. (for me, a very cool nearly pitch black room with no easily seen clocks and ear plugs or near total quiet).
Just mentioning the 'drugs' in case you haven't tried either yet. The other stuff.. just to blab! :)
What works for YOU?

flask said...

karen, i will only take melatonin in summer if i need to sleep while it's still light out, since melatonin's function is to inform your brain that it's dark out and you should sleep.

besides that, i take two classes of sedatives, one to slow down my brain and one to knock me out. i guess that makes me dependent, but i've no problem with that since i am no longer able to take the medications that would have helped me with my underlying conditions.

managing sleep is petty much all i have between living pretty well and deadly serious sickness.

beyond that, i have to remember to take my (generic) prilosec in the morning and the afternoon else the GERD that i didn't know had will keep me awake.

i'm a veteran of insomniac nights, sometimes weeks at a time (the record was something like 45 nights) and the kind of sleep where you only doze and when you do you dream that you can't sleep and ahhhhh!

it's horrid.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

How do you get to sleep after the nights of insomnia? I so struggle with this and all medications the dr has given me just make me miserable. I have medical issues where this only makes things worse.

Any good secrets?

I am glad you got some sleep though.

I've never gone 45 days/nights though. A week has been my longest and that was 7 days too long as it was.

flask said...

peg, my biggest secret is simply to calm down about it. back in the day i used to lay awake nights worrying that i wouldn't sleep again and i probably do not need to tell you how unhelpful that is.

i find putting clean sheets on the bed after a bad night really does help, and also paying attention to what my body wants.

i try to eat my veggies and get exercise and fresh air and sunlight but if insomnia brain says NO! DO NOT CHANGE OUT OF PAJAMAS! STAY ON SOFA!, that's what i do for a day.

i also check to see if i made any sad mistakes, like leave out a dose of prilosec or something.


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