Can you believe up to 70 million of us in this country have a sleep disorder. I guess I'm one of those...and chances are you are too according to statistics. More of us than we realize suffer from sleep deprivation or have some type of sleep disorder. I guess I fall into both those catagories. I've been trying to deal with a sleep disorder for awhile now, and I think I'm getting closer to a solution.
I've blogged about meeting with a sleep specialist, and how, on average, I was waking up between 40 and 47 times an HOUR when I'm at my worst. Think about that...I'm averaging less than 90 seconds of sleep before I "wake up."
The doctor I've been meeting with had a great analogy. He said "when you keep the hours you do during the week, then you try to change them on the weekend, your body can't adjust. It's in a constant state of jet lag." I wake up between 1:30 and 2am five days a week. I try to get to bed by 6:30 or 7 most nights. During the weekend I want to see my family, so I don't go to bed until 10:30 and I'm up around 6:30 in the morning. So what I'm doing is re-setting my body's internal clock...but it can't keep up with the changes, so it's constantly in a state of jet-lag (think what you feel like when you fly from Sacramento to New York. Rule of thumb is it takes one day for every time zone you cross for your body to re-adjust it's internal clock. So think about that when you stay up past your bedtime this weekend!
His suggestion is I need to be in bed by 8pm on the weekend, and sleep no later than 3:30 am for my body to stay adjusted. I just don't know if I can do that. In fact, so far, I'm NOT doing that. I'm also having to re-evaluate my caffeine intake (I can do that), when I work out (not too close to bedtime), when I watch TV, and how long I stay online before I head to bed (that's been tough).
I've also found out I sleep better on my side, than I do on my back (and don't stop breathing for long periods of time i.e. 20, 30 or 40 seconds).
I'm so grateful my wife and kids are as understanding as they are. I know I'm not the best person to be around when I'm tired, and I hate myself for being so short with them some days.
If any of this sounds familiar, I hope you'll go to your doctor and have an exam. Talk to him/her about your sleep pattern or see a specialist. Try not to put it off, and if you don't like what your doctor has to say, or if their approach doesn't work for you, keep searching until you find a doctor you click with.
A lack of sleep not only makes your grumpy and takes a toll on your cognitive skills, it leads to a greater risk of stroke and heart attacks...especially for men in their 40s, and 50s. For every single one of you, please, no matter how long it takes, or what you have to do, don't give up trying to find a solution. There is help out there for you.