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Friday, 21 September 2012

     There is not enough coffee in the world, to make up for a good nights sleep.  Surprised to see me, of all people, say that?  Well, today and over the past couple months, it is exactly how I am feeling.  Since the beginning of August, Hubs has been unable to drive due to Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness).  This has made me the primary driver around our house, and with mornings that start around 0400, I have come to see just how important sleep is for myself, not just for Hubs.
     For the most part, I worry about Hubs getting enough sleep.  After a couple of deployments, injuries, and the sleep issues that have come up in the past couple of years like the Hypersomnia/restless legs/teeth grinding/and extremely vivid dreams, it makes sense that I am concerned about his sleep.  Luckily, the Army is concerned about Hubs sleep as well, we have been through doctor appointments and sleep studies this past few months and hopefully soon have some answers for him.
     What I have not really thought about is my own sleep, and why it is important to me as well.  Since becoming the primary driver, I have been going to bed around 9pm and waking up around 4am, but falling asleep at 9 has been an issue.  I usually lay in bed wide awake until 10, sometimes 10:30-11:00.  I have always had issues falling asleep before 10pm.  A call to my Mom reminded me of this fact, she told me that when I was in early elementary school I would lay in bed and not fall asleep until around 10 every night.  Back then, this was not an issue because I was sleeping in later during the mornings, but now it is becoming a problem.  I need to change my sleep schedule to include more sleep!
     I have been reading about sleep a lot lately, and according to several doctors, and people who are much smarter than me, I need between 7.5-9 hours of sleep each night.  I have been getting 6-6.5 hours, and those hours have been filled with tossing and turning, waking a lot and just a general feeling of not being comfortable.
     Not getting enough sleep?  If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, then you might be needing more sleep.
  • Needing an alarm clock in order to wake up on time, hitting snooze several times
    • My snooze button and I have a very special relationship
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
  • Feel sluggish/blah in the afternoon
    • Hubs!
  • Getting sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms
    • Hubs!
  • Feeling sleepy after heavy meals or when driving 
    • Hubs!
  • Need to nap to get through the day
    • Hubs!
    • I am completely unable to nap if the sun is up!
  • Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
    • Hubs!
  • Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
    • Hubs!
  • Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed
    • Hubs!
     Over the past few months my love of coffee has become a NEED for coffee in the mornings.  I do enjoy the coffee, but there is only so much that coffee can do until the lack of sleep starts affecting the other parts of my life.  

Lack of sleep can cause: 
  • Fatigue and a lack of motivation
  • Moodiness, grumpiness and irritability 
  • Reduced creativity
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems
     I need to work on my sleep, for myself and for Hubs, because I am noticing a lot of the problems associated with a lack of sleep.  I know that Hubs has some underlying sleep issues, but mine I believe can be resolved mostly with our sleep environment and a new sleep schedule/routine.  Along with reducing and managing my own stress levels, I think these improvements will make a world of difference in my sleep, and life!  
     As far as sleep environments go, I know ours needs some help.  I have blackout curtains in our room, because when we were living in Alaska I became very aware of how much the sun keeps me awake.  But that is about as far as our good sleep environment goes.  Watching television in bed while falling asleep, can also add to sleep issues, but we do not watch TV in bed.  
     Our bed, is probabily the source of a lot of my tossing and turning.  Or the lack of a real bed.  In Alaska we slept on an air mattress on the floor...which was terrible for sleep, and once we arrived here at Ft. Bliss and all of our household goods arrived we moved into a bed that I had been sleeping on for several years already.  This is still the mattress we sleep on today, but I would not go so far as to call it a bed anymore.  The box springs are broken, so if I put it on a frame of any kind the middle supports fall to the ground and create a sink hole.  
     Currently our mattress and frame are on the floor to avoid this "sink hole", but it is still an 8 year old set that has been moved through a couple of states and has seen better days.  We need to replace it, but financially it has been put on the back burner for quite some time.  I like to pay for things in cash, not on credit, so we are saving up for a new mattress for a better nights sleep.  
     Another aspect I need to work on is caffeine consumption.  I love coffee, obviously, but I also drink soda at night which contains caffeine.  I am starting to switch to more water and caffeine free drinks, but this is a process because I do love my caffeine!
     The temperature of a bedroom is also important for sleep, too hot or too cold can inter fear with sleep quality.  Currently our bedroom is way above the recommended 54-74 degree temperature, so tonight I will be turning the portable AC unit on in our bedroom.  Maybe a cooler temp will help me fall asleep sooner and get the extra hour or two of sleep I am needing so much.
     Lastly, for a more restful night of sleep, I need to manage my stress better.  Easier said, than done!  With all the changes we have going on in our lives, along with Hubs' sleep issues, my stress levels have been at an all time high.  I have never been good at handling change, or stress, just ask my Mom.  When I was little I would cry if the normal Christmas routine was changed even a bit, I also BEGGED to stay in 6th grade so I would not have to change schools.  This has not changed as an adult, but I have gotten better at hiding it.  Sadly, hiding my fears of change and stress is not the same as managing it effectively.
     Stress can cause sleepless nights, and sleepless nights can make managing stress harder!  This is something that I really need to work on.  For ways to manage stress, you can check out:


          I am hopeful that soon I will have a great nights sleep, and wake up feeling rested and ready for the day even if it does begin at 0400!

How well are you sleeping at night?




For more information, check out these sources written by experts:
http://bettersleep.org
Understanding Sleep
Sleep Tips
Daytime Sleepiness
http://www.sleepfoundation.org



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