Thursday, July 23, 2015

Insomnia: Cure?

I never had a day... er, night... of insomnia until I retired. Steve used to marvel at how I could put my head on the pillow and zonk out seemingly within seconds. I used to take that for granted.

I, in turn, had difficulty understanding that my parents could wake up at 4 AM and just lay in bed awake until 7-ish or whenever their alarm was set for. I would of course have used the time for reading, had that happened to me, which it never did. At least not unless there was a big worry for the next day, like whether I'd get to the airport on time. That I could manage to worry about even when the alarm was set for 6 (5:50) and the plane didn't lift until 2.

But being among the forever sleep-deprived, there was never insomnia. As a kid, if I wasn't sleepy at my Mom-imposed bedtime, I'd smuggle my tiny lamp under the covers with me and read until I was. As a parent, there were never enough hours for everything, so sleep came last. Even after the kids were grown and gone, there was always pushing sleep time as late as possible, either for TV or another book. When I woke up groggy, a morning mug of coffee woke me up, and if I got groggy later in the day, I'd either catnap during slow (non-driving) times or add cola onto the daily caffeine ration. I'd quit caffeine on weekends and catch up on my sleep debt with real naps, even if they happened in my chair. The internal alarm will went off at 6 (5:50).

Then came retirement. Along with that came either "ignoring" my morning mug, or following doctor's orders to cut down on, or cut out, caffeine. So, more and more, I did.

And along came insomnia. I could lay awake for hours, even if I'd gone to bed hours past bedtime already. So I'd get up and read for a bit. Didn't make me sleepy. I'd still wake up at 6 (5:50) even without the alarm, though I blamed that on the dogs, being habituated to getting let out at that time. So, I'd catch a nap after catching the morning news.

I tried everything I could think of. I banished the dogs from the bedroom, generally no problem as Steve was typically still up. I tried low lights, melatonin, even my white noise machine otherwise known as my Hepa filter fan. And still I was wakeful hours later than I wanted to be.

I wound up missing mornings. That is meant both as napping right through them, and missing the experience of doing any of the things I usually did then. No early shopping at the grocery while there were still scooter carts available. No lapidary after May 1 because with the snowbirds gone north, they shortened their hours to close at noon. No sitting out on the patio enjoying the cool of the day.

I didn't try to curtail the naps because I had been told how much sleep deprivation has to do with contributing to cardiac arrhythmias. That's why the first thing they explore is sleep apnea for a causal factor. But the final straw was two days ago when I was still awake to hear Paul's morning alarm go off. Both times. Desperate, off I went to bed.

Three hours later I woke, despite myself. And the second thing I did after that was prepare myself my usual size mug of coffee, untouched for months. And drank it! I didn't take a nap until late afternoon, limiting myself then to an hour with the kitchen timer. When I went to bed around 10, I had little trouble falling asleep and no trouble staying asleep until 6, when once again the second thing I did after waking was fix another cuppa. (If you need to know the first, well....)

I plan to continue. I know what the medical community has to say, but if this routine lets me actually sleep while I'm in bed, I figure it's accomplishing what their end goal is anyway. Yep, weird as it sounds, caffeine to cure insomnia.

Hooray!

1 comment:

Steve Berke said...

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