Tag: sleep

Sleep Problems

Sleep to sleep - what happens with the brain inside

So if you ‘ve noticed I’ve been a little lethargic lately it’s because I have been.  I just haven’t been feeling great- fever, fatigue, cold chills.  But no other symptoms like sore throat or stuffy nose.  Just feeling really really tired all the time.  I’ve got things to do but would pretty much always rather be sleeping.

The problem it creates is getting back to the gym because I’m so tired.  I slept this entire weekend away and took Monday off work because I felt lousy and slept all day those days.  I feel a little better today but am still very tired.

It’s frustrating because sleep is supposed to be this simple thing.  This basic human function but not for me. There always seems to be a lot of drama attached to it.  And to make matters worse when I am able to get to sleep despite being tired all day I often have a hard time getting to sleep.  It’s just a huge mess.

Can any of you relate? I have to be careful who I mention my sleep issues too because I have found my Mom friends can be a little unsympathetic.  Me a single girl tired!  “Just wait till you have a baby” they say with their eyes.  I get it but I really am tired.  I promise! 😉

I just wish I could figure this thing out and sleep regularly like a normal person but I’ve tried everything from therapy to drugs to meditation.  Sleep is my enemy and constant frustration.

All I know is I am soooooooo thankful to have a job I can do at weird hours that works with whatever weirdness my sleep is putting me through.  There are no words for how grateful I am for that.

So, excuse the sleeping vent.  It’s just frustrating.

 

Sleep and Spoilers

This is kind of a random post with 2 topics that don’t really go together. But this is my blog and I can do that if I want… 😉

Any reader to my blog knows I have struggled for years with insomnia.  Pretty much my whole life but it’s been particularly bad the last 3 years at times leaving me with little to no sleep for days at a time.  This can be very stressful and mentally debilitating.

Since 2012 I’ve tried everything from sleep labs to to medicine to psychoanalysis to solve the problem with nothing really providing any complete solutions.  This has led to my latest solution- stop caring so much!  I’ve decided recently to just go to sleep when I need to sleep and enjoy the time I am awake.

Naturally I still have to work in the morning but I’ve also stopped planning anything if I can help it before 9 am. I used to think ‘oh, i can do it just this once’ and then I would end up not being able to show up for a swim or being late to where I was going. (Sorry friends I’ve stood up in the past).

Anyway, since I made this decision I have been happier and less stressed over my sleeping issues.  We’ll see how it goes but for the moment it is working.  It also helps me be less dependent on sleep medications, which are very tempting but only work for a brief period of time and then they fail spectacularly.

So if you notice me posting late or engaged on social media at 4 in the morning don’t be surprised, I’ve surrendered to the Sleep Godss.  If you can’t beat them, stop fighting!

spoiler_splash

SPOILERS

And now to my totally unrelated rant.

I want to talk for a second about spoilers.  This has been a topic that has annoyed me for some time but I haven’t found a way to work it into the blog, so here goes…

Since I became more involved with twitter last year it seems there never goes a day where I don’t hear someone crying ‘spoiler alert’ over a tweet, video or facebook status.  As annoying as it can be to have something spoiled I am finding these protests to be even more annoying.

First, let’s define what a true spoiler is.  That is where a key plot development is uttered before you have the chance to view said entertainment.  For years this was only a sports phenomenon (mainly due to the fact that VCR’s weren’t popularized until the early 80s).  So, if you knew you were going to be out for the big game, you’d record it and hope that nobody told you the score/big plays. If someone did that would be a spoiler.

However, even then a spoiler would not have been someone telling you how the weather was or who played in the game.  It would also not be a spoiler if someone said ‘that was a good game’.  Such a comment is so broad that it could mean good defense, offense, refereeing whatever.

So, let’s move up to modern times.  Social media is everywhere and a huge part of our everyday life. This gives great potential for spoilers.

That said, just as wildly accessible and obvious details about a sporting event are not a spoiler back in the day, neither is it now.  If I tell you that Toby McGuire or Daniel Radcliffe is in a movie, that is not a spoiler.  If I say Michael Phelps swam in a race, that is not a spoiler.

It is also not a spoiler if something has occurred with enough of a time-lapse for most people to enjoy it.  There has to be a time limit on spoilers. An example from literature would be Dumbledore dieing in Harry Potter.  Giving that away when the book was released, major spoiler.  Talking about it now that movies have come out and it’s been years, not a spoiler any more! I mean at a certain point I’m allowed to talk about Vader being Luke’s father.  It can’t be a spoiler forever…

During the Olympics this was especially annoying.  I get not wanting to know events before the primetime broadcast but if it happened yesterday and we’ve moved on to the next day of competition I’m allowed to talk about yesterday’s events.

On facebook the US Olympic team would post photos of victorious Olympians and it never failed to get hundreds of spoiler comments.  Urgh…so annoying.If you don’t want to know what happens to the US Olympic team during the Olympics than unfollow them for 2 weeks and don’t be spoiled.  I mean what are they supposed to do pretend like we didn’t win anything until everyone has a chance to watch it? Then people would be complaining they are ignoring our Olympians.

The other thing is that part of the fun of watching events these days is sharing them with a social media group of fellow fans. For example, If you know I always tweet about Survivor, do not read my tweets Wednesday night and then be mad at me for spoiling. I am not going to put Spoiler Alert before every Survivor tweet. That’s just obnoxious.

I feel like the Spoiler Alert Kings are simply finding one more thing to complain about. Sometimes part of being a grown up is not being surprised any more.  Sometimes we know what is going to happen but we have to find a way to enjoy the experience any way. I personally am someone who is almost impossible to spoil.  In fact, I am quite the opposite.  At times I enjoy knowing what’s going to happen because I can relax and just enjoy the game/movie/whatever.

Other times I like the suspense of not knowing what is going to happen.  I was grateful nobody told me about the twist in Sixth Sense or the surprise at the beginning of Phantom of the Opera (the stage production).  Both of those scenes are obvious to most human beings as spoilers and most people at least make an effort not to spoil them.  If they do, again take a grown up pill and enjoy it anyway.

It is also not a spoiler if it is a detail that any non-idiot should know.  For instance, it is not a spoiler to say that 12 Years a Slave is about a person who is a slave for 12 years.  It’s getting to the point where you can’t talk about anything in an intelligent way because you are so afraid of spoiling it.

Using 12 Years a Slave as an example- when I wrote my review I gave a spoiler warning at the beginning because I went into detail about characters, motivations, settings, and scenes.  That alert was appropriate but again I think any rational person knows the difference between the types of analysis.  If I tell you the ending of Inception and we discuss it that deserves a spoiler.  However, if I merely say the movie is good and I liked the ending, that the ending surprised me, that is not a spoiler.

So, in conclusion spoilers are a part of life, so work around it.  Stop complaining, be a grown up and enjoy the entertainment spoiler or not.

There I said it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

No Sleep

Last night I got no sleep.  I was tired all day and had to go to the house in Alpine to show someone around.  Worried I would be a drowsy driver I drank some caffeine around 4:30 and I bitterly regretted it by the end of the night.  Plus, my ambien prescription is out and that seems to be the only thing that really helps.

It was a long night.  I kept trying different strategies but nothing worked.  (Deep breathing, counting sheep, listening to audiobook, reading, nothing).  Finally around 4:30 I gave up and decided to start working since I was up anyway.  Its peculiar  because usually this happens when I’m worn out or frazzled but I felt fine.  No real stress. The only thing I can put my finger on is that stupid diet coke I drank.  I used to drink a super big gulp everyday, sometimes 2 and it wouldn’t affect me much but not any more.

I tried to take melatonin but it wasn’t helping.  Nothing was helping.

How do I get in these cycles  you ask?  Well, I stayed up too late during my recent trip and ever since then I’ve had a hard time going to sleep before 2 am.  Sometimes more like 3 am.  My body will be tired but my eyes will be wide awake.  At a certain point you start to have anxiety about not being able to sleep and it gets worse and worse.

I know it affects me in many ways.  Luckily I have a job that is flexible and I can even work late at night if all else fails.  But its hard to be motivated to exercise when you are so tired and a lot of the swim masters are at 6 or 6:30 and I’m sorry but I need more than 4 hours of sleep a night.

Last Fall I went to an insomnia specialist and she helped me get things on track so perhaps I need to see her again.  Meanwhile I’m trying to stay up till 8 or 9 tonight so I don’t wake up at some crazy hour.  Its literally painful.  My eyes hurt, head hurts, my stomach is bothering me and I have no appetite.

I don’t mean to be complaining.  Its just insomnia is the worst!

Do you guys have any strategies that work for you? I’ve also done the sleep studies and have a cpap but it makes my insomnia really bad so I don’t wear it often.  Some days my room helps me a lot with all its beautiful darkness and other days my whole body feels tight and I can’t relax.

Tired Rachel
Tired Rachel

By the way, this is my 700th blog post.  Pretty crazy right! Thanks to all who read it.

A Dark Room

Yesterday a dream came true.  I slept for 8 1/2 hours with only 1 interruption in my own room.    To what do I owe this great miracle, you ask?  I think this picture says a lot.

One dark room!
One dark room!

You know how in most rooms you can see the outline of your bed or your rooms.  Not in my room.  It is totally dark.  That little light you see in all the darkness is from my cable box which I can turn off.

How did I do this?  Well, it was the entire reason I moved.  I wanted to  get away from the loud birds, geese, ducks, and create the darkest room I could.  I even thought about living in the basement apartment and renting out the top part so I could keep it really dark.  I knew it would change my life if I could just sleep well.   It might sound crazy but to me it was worth buying a whole house just for that reason- to sleep!

Anyway, the first thing I did was had a wall of curtains installed by Calico Corners.  This was thick fabric with black out panels.  This created about 90% blockage and creates an awesome statement in the room that I love.

curtains
The curtains!

To a sane person this might have been enough but I’d come so far to not get my 100% dark room.  It wasn’t enough! That light that came through the top of the curtains was actually quite bright (there is a bright street lamp right outside my room).

So I had the company that installed the rest of my window treatments, the Blindman, install these:

IMG_20130313_163441

Combined you have what is in my opinion the perfect room.  It is quiet, totally dark and all me.  I LOVE MY ROOM!!!  I slept 8 1/2 hours!!!!!  Is there anything so exciting!  I don’t think there is.  I am SO HAPPY!!!

I told my friend Adrienne that any visitors can use the dark room.  That would get me to come!   It’s a dream come true.  Come on out!Life is good!

Insomnia Specialist

It should be no surprise to any blog reader that I struggle with insomnia.  I have for years.  Even as a child I remember sitting up late at night wondering about things and staring at the wall.    High school and college were plagued with insomnia and even on my mission when I was tired all the time I sometimes struggled to fall asleep.  (My mission was the only time in my life I’ve successfully taken naps but I still sometimes sat up for a half hour to hour trying to wind down from the crazy days).

Well, I’ve recently had a few breakthroughs in my treatment.  I have been seeing an insomnia specialist that is a psychiatrist not an MD.  She can not prescribe medications but works with you to collect data on your sleep and change patterns.  I have been meeting with her for about a month and a half and already noticed some interesting trends:

1. I find it very difficult to sleep without having eaten and not just a snack.  Preferably something sweet seems to be helpful.  I’m not sure if this is the blood sugar that makes me tired or if it is something psychological but it’s certainly fascinating.  The doctor asked me if food gives me anxiety and at first I said NO!  I hate that fat person cliche that we are always crying into a pan of brownies, not true!  Still, I had to admit that the whole process of losing weight and food management does give me some anxiety (which is a different question than does it make me emotional).  It made me think of being a fat little girl who was bullied and I wonder if that anxiety made me a child insomniac?

2. I typically went to sleep around 2 am and woke up between 7 and 8.  We are trying to train my brain to sleep when I tell it to go to sleep so we’ve been forcing myself to stay up until 2 and wake up at 7:30.  It’s been hard but I think it is actually working.  I find myself getting tired earlier than last month.  Maybe it is just my rebellious nature? Can’t be told what to do even by myself!

3.  My doctor ordered me to not have blue light electronics (tv, ipod, phone, computer, etc) an hour before I went to bed.  I was skeptical but I must admit it seems to be helping me feel more tired.  Part of it is I have just been getting bored.  I can read for a little while but I’ve had a hard time thinking of anything else I could do for that hour but sleep and listen to an audiobook.  I’m not going to say the problem is so easily solved but I’m encouraged by the progress in the last week.

4. There are a lot of insomnia myths out there that don’t seem to make much of a difference for me.  For instance, the not eating after 8 pm rule clearly does not work for me (see rule #1).  Eating spicy food and even caffeine in the afternoon doesn’t seem to affect when I go to sleep.  I also can’t take a bath or shower.  Nothing will wake me up faster than that.  Sometimes I can’t even wash my face or brush my teeth (don’t worry do it in the morning) because the water (and peppermint) will wake me up.

5.  Still incredibly sensitive to light, sound and any other stimulus.  Can’t wait to move into my new house away from the pond and tree where I can customize my curtains and get the ultimate perfect sleep! It is my dream to have everything like at the hotel rooms I’ve stayed at.  When I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Folsom I slept for 12 hours! That’s the difference a controlled sleep environment makes for me, more than double my normal sleep!

6. Go to bed only when you are sleepy.  This I learned from my regular sleep doctor but its been reinforced the last few weeks. Never try to get yourself to sleep for more than 20 minutes.  If you can’t sleep get up do something and then when you feel tired try again.  When I think of that horrible incident in February where I couldn’t sleep for over 2 days a lot of it might have been solved if I had just stopped trying and done other things (although my brain was so worked up then I don’t know if that’s the case)

So, I think that’s a lot to learn in such a short period of time.  I’m grateful for good doctors while they last and soaking up all the knowledge I can.  My endocrinologist decided to not do the pay for practice so I have lost him… 😦  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  Makes me weary just thinking about it- maybe that’s the cure for insomnia, think about finding a doctor!

I know many of you struggle with insomnia and I’d encourage you to keep a detailed sleep log and try different strategies, even if they seem counter-intuitive (like eating before bed) and see what works.  I’d be curious to hear your findings and how they match up with mine.

Btw, the name of my doctor is Dr. Lori Neeleman and she is such an easy person to talk to, so insightful.  I really like her.

 

 

Insomnia

So its 4:30am and I have gotten zero hours sleep.  That’s right zero, 0, none… To try and get some sleep I have read a book, listened to my ipod, taken meds, taken supplements, used my cpap, praying, essential oils, nothing is working. At this point I’m wondering if I should just start the day with no sleep?

The crazy thing is I feel tired I just can’t sleep. I have done the sleep labs and that has helped with the sleep apnea but not the insomnia.  In fact, the mask makes it worse because its hard to sleep with the darn thing all over my face.  Part of the problem is all of my senses become heightened when I am getting ready to sleep.  The slightest light, like the light of my power strip or phone, will drive me crazy.  The sounds of birds or the stupid geese at the pond outside my window will keep me up.  Honk, honk, honk…I think I’m the only person who isn’t thrilled by the sounds of birds chirping! (How I am ever going to get used to sleeping with another person if I get married I have no idea…)

My heater is also quite loud and the air blows above my head.  That can keep me up, but I have it at a low temperature. I can’t freeze!

I also have the problem where I can’t shut my brain off.  I’ve had some weightier matters on my mind today, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about them no matter how hard I tried. Even things like the family home evening got my brain thinking and I couldn’t shut it off.

The downside of working from home is that I can always work.  There is no clear cut off between home, social life, work, etc.  It all kind of blurs together for me.  This is usually a great advantage but it has its negatives.

Anyway, I’m at my whits end.  Does anyone have ideas that might help?  The worst thing about it is its effecting my workouts.  I mean I was going to meet my swim coach today at noon but how can I do that if I have had no sleep?  It also makes me more prone to infection and illness.  I have felt something coming on me for the last few days.

Seriously, I need ideas. What can I do to get a good night’s sleep?

 

 

Blissful Days of Nothingness

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.” Ovid

Today is what Saturdays are made for- cleaning a messy home, organizing one’s life and resting from a long week.  It honestly has felt like a month packed into a weeks time.  As I have no doubt many of you are tired of hearing, my work-life has been exhausting lately.  Every day, including weekends, has been jammed packed with vacation rentals, long-term tenants, new homes to manage, sales tax to work on, events to coordinate and more.  I may be exaggerating a bit but it feels months ago in Hawaii that I last enjoyed a  relaxing Saturday. I am not even going out with friends tonight- and to be honest I am kind of glad.  I love my friends but today all I needed was time to myself.

I used to take Saturday’s for granted but lately I have realized it is an essential day for a stress-free happy life.  As much as I am uplifted by a Sunday, in some ways Saturday is more restful (less meetings and things to do!).  The perfect Saturday consists of three essential things:

1. Organizing/Cleaning Home- My parents will probably sit mouth agape once they read this because I hated “Saturday work” growing up.  Every week we had assignments for Saturday that were above our normal daily jobs such as scrubbing all the wood floors, cleaning the car, organizing the pantry, cleaning all the bathrooms etc.  These jobs usually took the majority of the morning to complete and sometimes went into the entire day.  My least favorite task was tending for my mother’s garden.  Even now, I would rather do just about anything over gardening (I detest weeding, planting, pruning, mowing).  I’ve always been a bit of a princess and gardening is just too dirty, smelly, sweaty and miserable! It’s funny because my parents love it.  Even when my mom was pregnant in bed my dad kept up our massive garden at the  Maryland house.  He decided that we were going to set up a farm stand for selling tomatoes (clearly he didn’t understand his own children.  No way we were selling tomatoes on some stand!).  We ended up with 36 tomato plants and hundreds of pieces of fruit.  A friend helped us to can a good chunk of it but the rest Megan put on a red wagon and wheeled around the neighborhood giving them away!

Nevertheless, I still appreciate a Saturday that is free enough for me to clean the kitchen, vacuum, organize my room, and make my life feel organized.  With the flexibility of my schedule I can often get such projects done during the week but it is less stressful to have a large block of time to devote.  Maybe it is being raised on “Saturday work” but nothing seems as productive as a Saturday morning that I can dedicate to cleaning and organizing.  For instance, this morning I scrubbed the kitchen down including the floor and stove, did the dishes and vacuumed throughout the apartment.  It only took me an hour or two but it made such a difference in the feel and vibes of the apartment.  It feels less cluttered and stressful. I love that feeling!

Other tasks are often done on Saturday’s such as laundry, buying groceries, and other shopping.  These are fine, but I am glad to be inside today with nothing to do.   Especially laundry- I hate doing laundry.  I avoid ironing like a disease.  I find it the most tedious of tasks.  I would much rather be scrubbing floors or cleaning bathrooms. I guess laundry and gardening are my least favorite jobs.

2.  Relaxing- There is something about relax time on Saturday’s that makes such a difference.  I swear if I do not get a restful Saturday the entire week suffers.  Even if I take time off on Monday it doesn’t seem to have the same effect.  Sometimes relaxation includes my friends and family but other times it is just me.  I love days like today where I get to exercise, nap, write my blog, watch some tv, and read.  I love all of it! I need it to be happy.  If I do not get a restful Saturday than my Sunday’s particularly suffer- it is so hard to stay alert and attentive at church and in my other meetings.  My dad has always had a hard time staying awake at church and I understand why- he was always working hard on Saturday.

I have felt so tired lately.  I even worried I might have mono but the doctor said it was just a combination of stress, allergies and asthma.  It is so great to be rejuvenated and alive!

3. Entertainment- As is clear from this blog I appreciate many different kinds of entertainment- movies, books, television, theater etc.  A Saturday just doesn’t feel complete without a tiny taste of something entertaining- something to smile and laugh at.  I love going to the movies with friends, seeing a play, going to a good restaurant, or lounging at home with blanket and popcorn while watching TV.  It’s all great and essential to feeling ready for the upcoming week.

It’s not really entertainment but I also love doing service on Saturdays including attending the temple whenever I can.  Next week I am scheduled to help clean our church and in the Winter I plan on volunteering for Festival of Trees again.  Today I thought long and hard about going to the tea party in Salt Lake, but I decided I just couldn’t do it.  I needed the relaxation time more urgently than the political activism.  Next time I will attend!  I am so glad to see the crowds in Washington DC!  Woohoo!

So, that is my defense of my lazy Saturday.  It has been a joyous, lovely day.  I hope you all enjoy similar days and weekends.  Life is good…

happy-saturday