Hi! This is Sandi Davis on August 9, 2015.  CreakyJoints thought the topic of not being able to get a good night’s sleep was so important my editor asked me if I wanted to update a blog from 2014. Why yes, I do.

 

To sleep, perchance to dream.

The heck with that, just sleeping is enough.

helpmemecaptureFor those of us with sleep disturbances, a good night’s sleep is a fond memory.

We fight each night to get settled, get comfortable (some nights much easier than others) and slow our minds down enough to lull it into a doze, then all those stages of good sleep.

In my case, it can’t be done without – shall we call them sleep aids?

Since I was 19 I have taken something at night to sleep. First it was muscle relaxers and the list goes from there.

My problem isn’t going to sleep. My husband tells me I fall asleep faster than anyone.

It’s staying asleep. Ten minutes to maybe an hour later I’m awake again with no more sleep in sight.

You’d think staying up all night would help, but it doesn’t.

When I finally go to sleep, yeah, I just keep waking up a little more tired. Keep that up for very long and your brain will get sleep any way it can, say by blacking out.

I once drove home from work like that. I remembered talking to a woman at my office. I remember unlocking the door at home with no memory of how I got there, but damning me was my car in the driveway.

My neurologist called it a “Fugue State.” I had pushed too far and part of my brain decided it needed a little rest.

You will finally sleep when all else fails but you have no control over how long you’ll be out.  People get really worried about you when you’re logging 16 to 18 hours a day in bed, getting up just long enough to take care of necessary business and getting right back under those comfy covers.

I wish I could say there was a happy medium. A particular combination of drugs worked beautifully for me for years but then the government made it inadvisable to take these two drugs together in the strengths I needed to sleep.

Before I left my job as entertainment writer, I had people making sure I wasn’t sleeping at my desk. By this time I was not driving at all, and the struggle to get out of bed in the morning to get to work I didn’t remember at all. Around 1 or 2 p.m. I’d look down to see what I was wearing.

I still did a brief TV live shot each Friday afternoon to talk about what was happening that weekend. Thank heaven a certain makeup line had all the makeup you needed in two slim silver cases. I could put that stuff on in the women’s bathroom, get to the paper’s little studio area and scrape all the energy I had to look awake and excited about everything I talked about to the two anchors. The second we were finished, if I could, I’d call my ride and wrap up for the day. I’d sleep all the way home, stagger into the house, struggle to put on pajamas and go to bed. I’d pretty much sleep straight through until Monday morning.

I didn’t need anything to sleep then.

After I left my job, I pretty much slept all the time. My mother died six weeks after I left the paper and I remember going to her bedside to say goodbye. I wrote her obituary and I went to her funeral. I have patchy memories of that time. Today that breaks my heart.

It took two years to get back to needing a nightly sleep aid. It was just before my favorite doctor retired and he gave me the pills that worked before, and they worked just fine until they were taken away. (See above.)

I’m always hunting for the next great sleep aid. For a year or so, I’ve been revisiting a common prescription sleeping pill that works for about four hours. After that it’s twilight sleep, where a conversation or a TV show can haunt your dreams and I’m not quite sure if I’m asleep or awake.

I envy my friends who have regular sleep times. Lately, I’m not asleep until after 4 a.m. and I’m awake between 9 and 10. I’m so tired I lie in bed and watch TV, wishing I could sleep a little more but finally I get dressed and go about my day.

I try to wind down with reading or by watching ridiculous cartoons, petting my dogs, kissing my husband goodnight. I put on a sleep mark to block all light (another long story) and lie there, waiting for a good night’s sleep that doesn’t come.

I was at my pain management doctor yesterday. He’s been helping me with my sleep problems. For a few months, I was taking a low dose of a drug that had potential. I was still staying up late, but my sleep was better. I wasn’t waking up every two hours. I might sleep 3 or 4 hours straight.

I told him about this and we had a nice talk about sleep disturbances and he mentioned some people cannot get their brains to slow down. I included myself in this group and told him a few tricks I have when my brain is going about Mach 5.

I do multiplication tables. Two times two is four and so on. Because it has a rhythm, it can eventually slow my mind down. If it’s really bad, I do them in French.

My doctor smiled and doubled the strength of the prescription I was taking.

The last few nights have been amazing. Six and seven hours straight!

Let’s see how long this lasts.

Do you experience sleep disturbances from symptoms of your chronic illness?