Saturday, February 27, 2010

Slept like a BABY!

Yawn...steeeetttch. Good morning world!

Funny thing happened on my way to this morning!

I slept.

Not so amazing you say?

Ah. But you see, I have lived with the nightmares and insomnia now for....(doing the math...) 2010 minus 1992 = 18 years. Well, plus or minus a few months but whose counting :).

It has been 18 years plus the 10 years in a violent marriage since I have slept well.

So, yes. This really IS pretty amazing, isn't it! :0

No, this is not the first night that I have slept well...but it is a morning that deserves mentioning because it has happened more than once and in a regular type of pattern so I'm pretty sure that I'm onto something here.

As one who has experienced trauma and then the resulting and related nightmares and insomnia - sleep was pretty much a no-no.

I went the route of the prescriptions and pills. They didnt work either - although I was drowsy, sleepy and lethargic most of my awake time. So I guess that was something :).

I hated going to sleep. It wasn't intentional. It wasn't a sudden thing. It was insiduous, like a lion stalking it's prey. I crept up on me. First during my marriage years, I couldn't understand why I couldn't sleep and wondered what was different. (hello! well, I guess I figured that one out!)

Then once my husband was out of my life I didn't sleep. I didn't know at the time what it was but in hindsight I recognize the hypervigelance mode that had kicked in. More foggy days; lots and lots of late night television.

Over the years as I was misdiagnosed, insomnia was my constant companion. I was afraid to go to sleep so television was my best friend. When I got a computer in 2000 we were one happy little family - 24/7.

What is different?


But the most recent change was a conversation I had with a young mother about how I would feel sleepy but wanted to stay up later because I thought since I wasn't sleeping this would help me to sleep.

But, she says in her young mother wisdom "when a baby naps in the afternoon, it sleeps better and fusses less in the evening. You know, that idea that sleep begets sleep".

She continued with such natural common sense...and I concluded from this conversation that I had throughout my experience with trauma, developed 1. an avoidance of sleep that is common to us with this dastardly PTSD stuff and 2. I was unwittingly interfering with my body's natural sleep cycle.

So that night instead of fighting the tiredness and heavy eyes as I struggled to make it to the late night news and have a visit with David Letterman :)...

I went to bed WHEN I started feeling tired and my eyes felt heavy.

My mind wanted to resist. I wanted to avoid sleep and the potential nightmares (that no longer visit near so often, but still my mind shouted DON'T GO TO SLEEP!)

And I slept.

All night.

Like a baby.


Ellen said...

Hi Susan,
I can so relate to the problems with sleep. And for me, resisting naps didn't help either - it just left me more wound up, in struggle mode, and made it even harder to fall asleep at night. Now I still wake up every few hours, but I'm doing better than I was.

Congrats on sleeping! So important for overall health also. Take care, Ellen

Kyla said...

I know where your coming from on the sleep issue. I have had a sleep problem for a very long time, and use to be on medication but felt i didn't need to be on that anymore, nor did i really want to because of the side effects and how tired it made me feel always in general..the only bad side to not having that, is trying to get back into that natural way of sleeping normally again, i too have had many nightmares and have dealt with insomina and feel like it's all coming back but i'm working on getting into that natural sleep mode again, when i feel tired i try to lay down and close my eyes and sometimes i can fall asleep other times it takes me awhile and or i get interupted, and or have a dream, sometimes i can pass out for awhile and than find myself awaking just varies.

Susan said...

Ellen; so good to see you!

Sleep is for sure one of the contributing factors to how our days go, isn't it? I'm sorry that you are still having some interruptions to your sleep but it's great to hear how it is getting better for you!

Thank you so much for your support! I am truly grateful to be at a place where sleep is a more common than uncommon occurrence nowadays!

Susan said...

Kyla; I so totally hear you! I'm sorry that you are still struggling with sleep issues. This can make the whole PTSD thing seem so overwhelming sometimes I think.

It sounds like you have had some experience with this part of the PTSD journey. I think this process of getting back to a "normal" (whatever that is for you) sleep cycle can seem like it drags on forever but in time it did get better for me and I certainly hope you will continue find some relief as well.

Thank you for stopping by today and thanks again for your feedback and support :)

Anonymous said...

What I've found very helpful is to change the lighting in my house.

In the bedroom and the living room I have normal bulbs and everywhere else in the house is lit with full-spectrum natural daylight bulbs and I've used higher wattage bulbs so that light levels are brighter.

At breakfast I sit and eat under a stand-lamp fitted with a very bright daylight bulb and in the winter I tend to have a SAD lamp on my office desk most of the time. Often in winter I'll use a SAD lamp whilst I eat.

My alarm clock is a SAD one which I've modified so that there is a bright halogen bulb over my headboard that fakes a sunrise. Mostly this will wake me up 'naturally' but sometimes I sleep through it and get woken by the buzzer which isn't fun.

In the evenings I switch off the living room light and have on just one stand lamp in the opposite corner to me which is fitted with a very low wattage energy saving bulb so that it is a lot like the light levels after sunset beore night.

Basically what I do is manage the light levels in my house so that they follow what would be natural if I was living outside. When you don't get enough sleep your body can lose track of where day and night are and this can move you into full zombie mode where you are walking dead during the day and waking dead during the night.

A good first experiment before spending any real money would be to have breakfast sitting under a bright daylight bulb (full spectrum, daylite or high quality craft bulb) and then in the evening turn down ambient levels to 'romantic'.

These days even if I don't sleep I can still stop Zombie mode...

Anonymous said...

I forgot to say:

Of course when you are afraid to go to sleep this will not help. When I was having a lot of nightmares then I hated going to sleep and I hated being tired as well.

Kyla said...

Hey Susan thanks for the comments, and no problem~ will continue to read your blog posting's - I'm glad to meet you too- it's nice to meet people who can relate.
The light, idea is a good thought,- may have to give that a shot. I do get nightmares still but there not as bad as they use to be, and it varies when I have them. Thanks for the tips :)
Hope all is well your way~~*

Susan said...

Mike - I like the way you have been so creative and resourceful in finding your solutions! These are some great suggestions. I also find that a well lit room is more stimulating and in the evening the dim lighting does help me to calm down and bring my day to an end.

The description you gave "walking dead during the day and waking dead during the night" is a perfect portrayal of how I have felt when in sleep deprivation...

Are the bulbs you mention ones that can be purchased easily anywhere?

Susan said...

Kyla - connecting with others who are doing this is helpful isn't it? I have to tell you that my online friends have been so instrumental in my journey. Theres just something about knowing that I'm not alone in this...:)

Sleep is such a huge issue as we do our healing. I have found that how I'm sleeping can be a reflection on how I'm coping during the day.

If I'm dealing with a lot of trigger situations in my awake hours my sleep is more fitful than if I am at a place of peace during my day. It's almost like an IM from my subconscious that tells me to slow down and take care of myself for a day or two now as learn to listen to my body.

Anonymous said...

The bulbs may need to be looked for. In the UK I know my local HobbyCraft does 'natural daylight' bulbs but they are quite expensive. Not many hardware stores in the UK carry natural daylight bulds that are of a good quality.

I went onto the web and ordered in bulk to kit out the main rooms of the house. Spaces where I work are fitted with "full spectrum" bulbs which give accurate colour reproduction - which is essential for some of the things that I do. The rest of the house was kitted with the much cheaper DayLite™ bulbs which are good enough. Ambient light levels in the house are aslo much brighter than they used to be.

Below that are "Daylight" bulbs such as Daylite™ which whilst not 100% color accurate are good enough for these purposes.

Below that are "Craft" bulbs which can help.

My first experiments were using a 60W "Craft" bulb which was a filament bulb with a blue glass on it.

The SAD lamps are a lot more expensive but they are available in larger drug stores.

In theory they say that 60-150W daylight bulbs are not enough to have an impact. In practice I found that one bulb in a stand lamp made a noticable difference to me which is why I went further.