Sleep is Elusive

Why is it so difficult to sleep?

You may remember that I wrote about the importance of sleep. I had actually gotten a good night’s sleep recently. However, it seems to be rare. With chronic illness and pain, it appears that that sleep is difficult to achieve on a consistent basis. I have gone entire nights without sleep, several days in a row, with no naps during the day. I don’t even want to think about what that does to my body.

So I need to develop some more concrete steps to make sleep, especially restorative sleep, happen. This is my plan to get some sleep at all. Restorative sleep is a goal I can work on in the future.

    Set a bedtime of 1 am (I’m a night owl so I have to start out with a reasonable time);
    Keep the bedroom dark and cool;
    Get ready for bed at 11 pm;
    Turn off all electronics and the television except my kindle at 11 pm;
    Assemble everything I need to sleep that minimizes the chance of pain keeping me up;
    For me, that would include a cold pack for my head and a warm pack for my neck to keep the Trigeminal Neuralgia at bay;
    Find a comfortable position to encourage relaxation and minimize pain;
    Read from my kindle until 12:30 am;
    Meditate at 12:30 am, preferably using a sleep meditation; and,
    Fall asleep by 1 am, or at least, that’s my hope.

This strategy would likely work for most people (I look in awe and with a little jealousy at those who fall asleep when their head hits the pillow). People with chronic illnesses and pain have to work at sleep more than the average bear.

In my case, working against me are:

  • Lupus (body pain, among other things);
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia (appropriately nicknamed the suicide disease) (extreme facial pain);
  • Fibromyalgia (more body pain)
  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) (exhaustion often paired with insomnia)
  • Autonomic Dysfunction (Dysautonomia) (my autonomic nervous system doesn’t work properly);
  • Adrenal Insufficiency (my adrenal glands can’t produce much cortisol);
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon (my extremities, especially my hands and feet, are usually cold);
  • Myofacial Pain Syndrome (pain in my neck and shoulders);
  • Migraines (not usually a problem since I have had a fair degree of success with a new drug);
  • Chronic kidney disease (my kidneys aren’t functioning well);
  • Chronic Liver Disease (my liver isn’t able to properly filter toxins out of the blood)
  • Anti-Phospholipid Syndrome (thick blood that can cause blood clots);
  • Lumbar Disk Degeneration (pain in the lumbar area of my back);
  • Cervical Spinal Stenosis (neck pain);
  • GERD (a more extreme version of heartburn);
  • Arthritis from Lupus and Osteoarthritis (occurs everywhere in my body); and finally,
  • Transient Global Amnesia (don’t remember doing or saying something, but it doesn’t occur often, thank goodness).

These diseases don’t cause pain or insomnia all at once, but they seem to like ganging up on me at bedtime, making it extremely difficult to sleep; however, that just means that I have to work harder than most to get some sleep.

I guess it’s too late to start my plan tonight given the hour. Also, events may occur that can mess up our carefully crafted plans, like my husband arriving home from Edmonton at midnight tomorrow night. My intention when those things happen is to take it in stride and just start my bedtime routine as soon as possible afterward.

I wish everyone success in achieving some kind of sleep. To those who already get sleep itself, I wish you the best restorative sleep possible.

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

So if you were wondering what happens when we sleep, here’s a scientific explanation. It appears I am going to have to do more to ensure I get enough quality sleep on a consistent basis.

A lot of healthy people think they need don’t need much sleep or that they don’t have time for the ’recommended’ hours of sleep for their particular situations. It seems that they might want to think twice about those assumptions. I imagine those who aren’t well would need more sleep, but that is my own hypothesis.We may not have a lot of control over our health, family, or work issues, for example, but we can make sleep a priority. Obviously, some of us may have to work at it harder than most. Don’t look at me. I’m going to have to make a real hard push in that direction. There isn’t much else that I can change, and I realize those with a lot of pain may face greater challenges, but it appears that every little bit of extra sleep works in our body’s favor.

Must work on becoming a well-rested pigeon.