Tag Archive | Sleep disorder

Can you have too much of a good thing?

sweet-dreams-comment-037

After months and months of surviving on between 2-4 hours sleep a night I have now developed a need to sleep all day. Well, not quite all day, but a lot more than I am used to and all without my usual medication.

I don’t know whether I am catching up on the sleep missed or whether this is another symptom of my current depression episode. I am not sure if its good for me or not. I am trying not to worry about it too much and instead go with the flow. If my mind and body say “sleep” I sleep. I am in no position to argue as I am too tired to fight it.

After 12 hours sleep last night, I have also slept for a total of 5 hours between 11.00am and 7pm today. I am still yawning and doubt that I will have any trouble in dozing off soon after my evening meal. There has to be a limit on catching up so I am hopeful that by early next week I will be feeling much livelier. If not, I will need to reassess my coping strategies planning for my return to work. I don’t really want to be falling asleep at my desk!

Abnormal sleep patterns are a common symptom of depression and it seems that I am experiencing a range of disorders during my latest battle. Perhaps if I get them all out of the way I can move on to establish a healthy pattern of 7-8 hours per night which should suffice.

In the meantime, at least I have Tom to keep me company….

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Four hours sleep

Margaret Thatcher, our first and only female Prime Minister to date, died aged 87 on Monday and whatever your thoughts about her outlook and achievements, she made an impact.

Like many I’m sure, I could write a book on my personal thoughts about her legacy, but one article in the press today in particular attracted my attention. Apparently, Margaret “Maggie” Thatcher not only survived, but thrived on only 4 hours sleep a night.

Now I don’t have the responsibility or high-powered job that she had but I too normally rely on just 4 hours sleep to get me through the day. Always active, my sleeping pattern has caused much hilarity/concern/amazement over the years , and being a sensible person always living in fear of my next depressive episode I need to make sure that I get sufficient rest. This means in practice, more than 4 hours unconscious rest is required!

It would be nice to exist on just 4 hours of shut-eye but in reality for me that’s difficult. I am very physically active, increasingly demanding but absolutely hopeless if I only get 4 hours on a regular basis. My solution to this dilemma is to take mild anti-depressant/sleeping tablet-Amytryptyline. The joy of these tablets is that they don’t send you to sleep (I’m tired enough as it is) but they keep you asleep. This is exactly what I need as I am so exhausted by my efforts at the end of the day that I’m “gone” as soon as my head touches the pillow but after 4 hours asleep my brain wakes up again. My husband laughs when he says he brings me a cup of tea 5 minutes after I disappear upstairs only to find me snoring away merrily but  after only 4 hours of blissful rest I’m awake at 2am ready and raring to go and instead I am listening to his snoring!

Perhaps one day my brain will slow down and my energy levels will subside  so that I am able to live life at a more sedentary pace. My family will undoubtedly rejoice!

Until then, I will keep taking the tablets in the vain hope that one day I will survive without.

 

Night time blues

Night time can be a very lonely place when you are unable to sleep. Worries and concerns are exaggerated and there is little to do to distract you from the fears and frustrations that plague you in the wee small hours. The tiniest thing can become a burden and on some nights a myriad of negative thoughts  take over my head and prevent the onset of restful sleep. Usually I take a sleeping tablet which provides eight hours of much needed oblivion but I don’t always remember and by the time I do, it’s too late. Instead  I am faced with having  to fight my low mood and bubbling emotions without help and I have often fought a thousand battles before I get up for work the following morning.

I’m sure that the long-term answer to my depression is not anti-depressant medication. Likewise the cure for my insomnia is not sleeping tablets but there is only so much I can do to exhaust myself in the vain  hope that fatigue will take over and render me unconscious for a welcome rest before the utterly numbing resulting tiredness impacts on everything I do. Grumpy, tearful, hostile and irritable. Argumentative, despairing and emotionally demanding. All side effects of the lack of sleep and unpleasant ones for all concerned.

For now I will keep taking the tablets. As for the future, who knows. But I am determined to put things right so that when one day I finally put my head on my pillow I will drift off into a peaceful self-content sleep of the unburdened.

Insomnia_sleep

Depression Awareness Week- can’t sleep?

One of the most common symptoms of depression is insomnia. I know how it feels to go night upon night with no more than an hour or two in a light, disturbed sleep. In fact I am writing this post at 02.30am having slept for my allotted 4 hours.

This does nothing to help my recovery from depression, and when you are trying to work, look after yourself and your family, there is nothing worse than starting off the day on the back foot. Insomnia comes in many disguises and mine means that I am able to fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow but wake after only 4 hours of shut-eye. Some people however just can’t drop off at all. With the little sleep I get if I don’t take my sleeping tablets I am irritable and increasingly stressed and so most nights I take medication that helps me stay asleep. Whilst the tablets undoubtedly work, they can leave me with a fuzzy head in the morning and it can take me a while to come round fully.

There are many things you can do to improve your quality of sleep. Here are a few ideas which you can start with, before consulting your GP for further assistance;

  • establish fixed times for going to bed and waking up (and avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep),
  • try to relax before going to bed,
  • maintain a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright),
  • avoid napping during the day,
  • avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of going to bed,
  • avoid exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise earlier in the day is beneficial),
  • avoid eating a heavy meal late at night,
  • avoid watching or checking the clock throughout the night, and
  • only use the bedroom for sleep and sex.

If you have tried self-help and you are still experiencing problems sleeping, consult your GP who may recommend the following treatments (NHS Choices);

  • Stimulus-control therapy, which aims to help you associate the bedroom with sleep and establish a consistent sleep/wake pattern.
  • Sleep restriction therapy, where you limit the amount of time spent in bed to the actual amount of time spent asleep, creating mild sleep deprivation. Sleep time is then increased as your sleeping improves.
  • Relaxation training, which aims to reduce tension or minimise intrusive thoughts that may interfere with sleep.
  • Paradoxical intention, which means you try to stay awake and avoid any intention to fall asleep. It is only used if you have trouble getting to sleep, but not maintaining sleep.
  • Biofeedback, where sensors connected to a machine are placed on your body to measure body responses like muscle tension or heart rate. The machine then produces pictures or sounds to help you control your breathing and body responses.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which aims to examine and change your beliefs and attitudes about insomnia (see What does CBT for insomnia)

There is nothing worse than sleep deprivation and it is more common that you think so if you need help with your sleep, seek advice.

Useful information;

Royal College of Psychiatrists-Sleeping well

10 ways to get a good nights sleep

BUPA-Insomnia

Doing things differently (3) Foods that may help you sleep

I have struggled with insomnia for many years now and, having a demanding full time job, I need my sleep. 4 hours is just not enough. I am prescribed Amitryptyline which works for me and I only have to take a small dose to guarantee 7-8 hours of quality rest. But rather than resort to medication, there are some simple things you can consider which may help. Your diet is one of them. Tryptophan [an amino acid that has a sedative – like effect] and magnesium seem to be common to most of the following foods which are recommended for insomniacs.

Almonds: They contain tryptophan and magnesium which is a muscle relaxant.

Chamomile tea:  apparently helps promote sleep. Ordinary or green tea is also fine as long as it is de-caffeinated.

Bananas: An excellent source of magnesium and potassium. They also contain tryptophan.

Yoghurt, milk and cheese also contain tryptophan. Calcium also works to help relieve stress.

Oatmeal-porridge oats or museli : A warm bowl of oat-based cereal is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and potassium, all important nutrients that support sleep. Avoid adding sugar as this may counteract the sleepy benefits.

Potatoes-Eating a small baked potato or mashed or roasted potatoes will clear your body of acids that can block the effects of tryptophan.

Cherries-are one of the only food sources of melatonin, an antioxidant that helps the body sleep and is found in fresh, dried, or frozen cherries . Try eating a bowl of cherries one hour before bed.

Foods to avoid: Coffee and tea (caffeinated), alcohol and heavy or spicy foods.

You may also like:

Melatonin, jet-lag and sleep disturbances

Magnesium deficiency

Sleep easy

One of the most common symptoms of depression is insomnia. I know how it feels to go night upon night with no more than an hour or two in a light, disturbed sleep. This does nothing to help recovery from depression, and when you are trying to work, look after yourself and your family, there is nothing worse than starting off the day on the back foot. My husband, who also has depression,  is also going through a torrid time with his sleep patterns at the moment, only snoozing for minutes at a time resulting in fatigue, and despondency. Although we both suffer with insomnia, the symptoms are very different. I am able to fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow, but wake after only 4 hours of shut-eye. My husband however, just can’t drop off at all. Fortunately, unlike me, he doesn’t seem to get irritable and stressed about the lack of sleep but takes it in his stride and vows to try again tomorrow night. There are many things you can do to improve your quality of sleep. Here are a few ideas which you can start with, before consulting your GP for further assistance;

  • establish fixed times for going to bed and waking up (and avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep),
  • try to relax before going to bed,
  • maintain a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright),
  • avoid napping during the day,
  • avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of going to bed,
  • avoid exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise earlier in the day is beneficial),
  • avoid eating a heavy meal late at night,
  • avoid watching or checking the clock throughout the night, and
  • only use the bedroom for sleep and sex.

If you have tried self-help and you are still experiencing problems sleeping, consult your GP who may recommend the following treatments (details courtesy of NHS Choices);

  • Stimulus-control therapy, which aims to help you associate the bedroom with sleep and establish a consistent sleep/wake pattern.
  • Sleep restriction therapy, where you limit the amount of time spent in bed to the actual amount of time spent asleep, creating mild sleep deprivation. Sleep time is then increased as your sleeping improves.
  • Relaxation training, which aims to reduce tension or minimise intrusive thoughts that may interfere with sleep.
  • Paradoxical intention, which means you try to stay awake and avoid any intention to fall asleep. It is only used if you have trouble getting to sleep, but not maintaining sleep.
  • Biofeedback, where sensors connected to a machine are placed on your body to measure body responses like muscle tension or heart rate. The machine then produces pictures or sounds to help you control your breathing and body responses.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which aims to examine and change your beliefs and attitudes about insomnia (see What does CBT for insomnia)
  • There is nothing worse than sleep deprivation and it is more common that you think. If you need help with your sleep, seek advice.

    Useful information;

    10 ways to get a good nights sleep

    BUPA-Insomnia