30,000-39,999 SparkPoints 35,516

Tired. Bad memory. Sleep?

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Since my old FitBit quit and they kindly send me a new One, I've learned something interesting: My ability to sleep is even worse than I thought.

I've always been a very light sleeper, and for years had to have absolute darkness and absolute quiet to sleep (and if I had them, I'd fall asleep literally in under a minute.)

I was always a back sleeper, until I gained so much weight a few years ago and started to snore. Then I'd wake myself up every time I fell asleep, like some demonic sleep-deprivation experiment, and so I had to learn to fall asleep on my side. I got that part down well enough, but rolling over was a problem - every time I started to roll over, I'd stop on my back, where I was comfortable, then snore and wake myself up. I learned to wake up enough to intentionally reposition myself on my other side, then go back to sleep.

And even though we slept in separate bedrooms for years (his back pain and snoring made it impossible for me to sleep, and my kvetching made it impossible for him to sleep) knowing my husband was in the house, whether we were sleeping together or not, made it easier for me to get a good night's rest.

I don't wake up well from any kind of make-you-sleepy thing. Even innocuous things like Benedryl leave me half asleep for many hours the next morning. The old stand-by, the night-cap, doesn't work for me terribly well either - I fall asleep quickly, but waken about four hours later. I've read that it's a sudden drop in blood sugar that causes it, and it's quite common. If I take a (not two, just one) Benedryl at night with a glass of sherry, I'll sleep like a stone for eight hours, then go downstairs to the sofa and nap like a stone for another four. 50% of the 24 hour day spent sleeping isn't really okay.

I can concoct a mix of substances (nothing like a background in experimental psych, heavy on the brain chemistry parts) that will let me sleep for eight hours, and even waken somewhat refreshed, but in the first place, who wants to be drugged every night, and in the second, I strongly suspect it messes with the brain's sleep cycles, because I have weird dreams in odd sequences.

With the FitBit, you tell it what time you went to bed and got out of bed, and it generates your sleep pattern in between. It seems that although I'm in bed for a decent number of hours - somewhere between seven and ten, depending upon whether I have a good book to read - I'm only getting between three and five hours of actual sleep. One night it was only one hour and change. I wake somewhere between 10 and 15 times per night, sometimes more. My "sleep efficiency" is around 40% - I think the highest I've ever seen it is 67%. By contrast, my daughter who works alternate weeks day and night at the emergency vet clinic and needs very little sleep (and never has, even as a tiny baby...) has about a 97% sleep efficiency.

I could throw the dog and the cat off the bed, but I don't think they bother me much, and besides, I like the little buggers. Having them both hammering at the door all night wouldn't improve my sleep much anyway.

I've read all the Sleep Tips and Insomnia Help and all of that. For a while I thought it was lack of exercise, so I got more exercise. Then I thought it was depression, so I got help for depression. Protein before bed. Ambient noise. No ambient noise. Room temperature. Not staying in bed to fret when I can't sleep. Staying in bed so at lest my body gets some rest. I've done it all, and nothing seems to help.

This clear picture of what a lousy night's sleep I get, though, is comforting in many ways. I no longer have a lingering suspicion that there is "something wrong with me" because I'm so weary all the time, nor that I'm sliding slowly into dementia because I'm so forgetful and am losing what used to be an excellent vacabulary and ability to spell. I think I'm just sleep deprived.

But because sleep deprivation correlates with so many things, none of them good, it may be time to see a doctor and go spend a couple nights at the dreaded Sleep Clinic and let them poke around inside my head, or teach me to sleep with a bit in my mouth, or whatever it takes. I loved not needing much sleep. I really don't love not getting enough.

Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I realize you posted this some time ago, but thought you may still welcome a belated comment.

    Protein before bed causes wakefulness. Eating a complex carb and hour or so before bed helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin, and also helps avoid the blood sugar drops 4 hours after going to bed.

    I hope this helps.

    1756 days ago
    Well....I can't say a flippin' word....I have the exact same problem. That is why I ended up being a third shift worker for most of my life, I finally gave in and just decided that if I couldn't sleep, anyway, I may as well make money not doing it. LMAO I am lucky if I get a solid six hours most days or nights. I will go on much less for a spree of days and then crash and burn for 10 hours straight after a couple days of that. I gave up. I can't take Benadryl or anything like that because ironically, those meds that normally cause drowsiness in others works opposite in me and wire me for sound. (sigh) So....well, if you ever figure it out, clue me in, too. LOL
    1781 days ago
    I would probably flunk the sleep test as well. I got screwed up years ago working goofy hours as a nurse and it's hard to get back to normal. My doctor always prescribes mild sleep meds for me which I refuse to take.
    1787 days ago
    Please, please solve this, Karen! I wake up to pee all through the night, and alcohol used to boot me awake at 2 AM, but this is different, I think.
    1788 days ago
    Last night was a eyeopener for me as well. Rarely happens ,thank goodness!
    1789 days ago
    There is so much research about sleep. I think your insight about 'not needing much sleep' versus 'not getting enough' is very important. You may not need much, but what you get needs to be good sleep. Good luck!
    1789 days ago
    I'm in the same boat. I have chronic sleep problems. When I got a BodyMedia monitor I was horrified at the actual numbers. I wish you all the best. When you find a solution, share it please!
    1790 days ago
    Yeah, if you find answers, please share!!

    I wake up 18-22 times a night but my efficiency is still in the low 90s.. but still.. I'd like to be able to stay asleep..

    1790 days ago
    SCOOTER I have to tell you that my DH well over 20 years ago kept me awake because he stops breathing. I was talking to my allergist and I told him DH wakes me up when he stops breathing. He asked how loud he snores I told him he never snores he just stops breathing so I start to count second by second and after I get to 10 I would poke him. He breathed he repositioned and he went back to sleep. The allergist said he needed asleep study. Sleep clinics were in their infancy then so we had to go out of town to a sleep lab.
    After the test to which the allergist referred DH to, sent the report back to our GP he was surprised I never told him about this. I never thought about it.
    DH has Central sleep Apnea, not obstructive. He just forgets to breathe while he sleeps.
    He was ordered a very expensive C-Pap machine. It blew in his face all night and he would chuck it across the room. He refused to wear it so I still had the same ritual. When he had congestive heart failure he was told to wear it. Eventually he was told he would have to go on Oxygen if he did not wear it. I told him I did not like 02 in the house. A week later a house close by us burned. The man inside was using 02 and he perished.

    Needless to say we went back to Sleep study and they told him he could try the new Bi-Pap machine that breathes in and allows him to exhale. DH said it was so much better so he has used that every day since then. He takes it when we travel, even overseas and if he has a procedure that calls for anesthesia the machine goes with him.
    Long story to let you know sleep Apnea is not always about snoring. Did I mention he stopped breathing 163 time that first night of the study. He was less than 80 % of 02 saturation. Every time we go to the Dr;s his Oxygen level is taken and if they do not I ask them to clip it on his finger it is almost always 98%. Now he stays awake in the evening and yawns much less HUGS, I hope you can get tested.
    I take Melatonin with GABA and Theanine and I sleep very well these days.
    HUGS Pat in Maine.
    Hugs and much love Pat in Maine. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1790 days ago
  • SCOOTER4263
    No apnea. I've slept on the sofa with adult kids around me plenty of times, and as long as I'm on my side, I don't snore. I asked my husband several years ago, and the children more recently, if they'd ever noticed that typical silence followed by big snort, and I don't do that at all. It's a combination of age, weight and sinuses, for sure.
    1790 days ago
    Have you ever had sleep tests done? specifically for sleep apnea?

    I like the little buggers on my bed, too:-) (cat and dog) - especially since hubby died, because it doesn't leave me feeling alone.

    1790 days ago
    I'd be the first to say that your vocabulary hasn't suffered a whit according to my reading! emoticon I feel for you because DH is a certified insomniac...he has tried EVERYTHING! I'm well on his heels trying to sleep with the manaic! emoticon I ALWAYS wake up tired no matter HOW many zzzzz's I've registered. I too think his snoring, my snoring, his tossing, my turning, that play into this sad problem also.

    Sigh...I MISS the sand man!! emoticon Lately DH has been taking Sleepy Time Extra Tea (it has chamomile Valerian and Tilia estrella flowers in it) about an hour before bed which most times helps. He also got something from our chiropractor..the ONLY doctor we trust here in sunny SW Fl called Calm. It has 325 mg of magnesium which is supposed to relax your muscles and send you to snoozy town. Sometimes for good measure he even takes both! Now that I'm making a point of getting more walking into my days I've found that I sleep easier...I'm not sure BETTER...but easier. I needs TONS of's because me brain is pedal to the medal... all day compared to the average bear! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1790 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/1/2013 4:55:38 PM
    I can't even imagine. And it sucks! I think getting some input is good. You can then decide what you what to do with the information.

    Tried lullabys?

    1790 days ago
    Lack of sleep is awful!! It impacts every area of your being!! I say the sleep clinic is going to be a necessary evil for you. Sorry! But, if they can figure it out, think how much better you will feel!!
    1790 days ago
    There's not much worse in the world than being sleep deprived. Fortunately, that is seldom my problem. But when it is, I have found Valerian to work great. Hope you resolve this. Lack of sleep, even for one night, makes me feel like a certified maniac.
    1790 days ago
  • ALICIA214

    Sleep Clinic seems to be the way for you to go...I hope they can help you...

    1790 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.