It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep
Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 8:00 pm
By: By Donna Ryder
Say the word “sleep” to me and I may respond, “What is that?”
For about the last year, I’ve struggled with being able to go to sleep at night, and then I have to drag myself out of bed each morning to go to work.
In 2011, I was getting up at 5 each morning and going to the gym to work out. Those days seem ancient history to me.
I have trouble going to sleep each night, despite taking recommended over-the-counter assistance. I later found out on a popular medical talk show that the recommended dose was actually three times more than my body needed. I’ve since tried to stop taking that medication all together. It wasn’t helping anyway.
I’ve always heard you need to keep your room dark. I have black out drapes on my windows. People say, “Keep your room cool.” If I do, I freeze and I cannot go to sleep when my toes feel like ice cubes. If I go to bed at an hour which will allow me to receive the recommended eight hours minimum each night, I lie in bed for hours before drifting off. Then I toss and turn and wake up to find it’s only 2 a.m. or 3 or 4. Sometimes all of the above, during the same night.
I don’t eat a big meal before bed and I drink decaffeinated tea.
I know I’m not alone.
I also know that a good night’s sleep is essential for my health, so I’m going to try to remember information shared by Patty Tucker, a sleep coach, consultant and adjunct faculty member at The Family Sleep Institute.
• It normally takes 10-20 minutes to fall asleep. “Falling asleep immediately is more likely a sign of sleep deprivation.”
• Waking one to three times during the night is normal. A night of healthy sleep is composed of four to five sleep cycles.
“Between each of these cycles we naturally come very close to waking or actually wake up completely. We may roll over or adjust the covers. Often, the time we are awake is so short we don’t notice or remember it in the morning. Other times we are more aware. Waking in the night is only considered a ‘problem’ when you have regular difficulty getting back to sleep; again in 10-20 minutes or so.”
• If you think you can “make up” your sleep on the weekend, think again.
“You may be able to pay off a little of your accumulated sleep debt this way, but it’s still not the same as getting adequate sleep on a regular basis. If your body needs eight hours of sleep and you get only six each night of the week, you are 10 hours in debt by Friday.”
Ms. Tucker said most sleep experts agree sleeping in huge chunks is likely to disturb your circadian rhythms, making it harder to maintain a regular schedule.
• People using drugstore sleep aids, usually called “Something PM,” think they are safe and effective.
“Most over the counter sleep drugs contain an antihistamine, usually diphenhydramine (Benadryl®). Diphenhydramine can certainly knock you out, but it’s not the same as normal sleep. From time to time, it may be better than nothing, say if you have severe allergies keeping you awake, but regular use of these products can rob you of the repairing, restorative sleep process you really need.”
She said they can leave you groggy and fuzzy-headed, can increase the risk of falls, can lead to urinary retention or stress incontinence and can have other bothersome side effects.
• Although many people think they can get by on six hours of sleep, they are wrong.
“The truth is the typical human body requires between seven and nine hours of sleep time each night to repair the damage done, restore the chemicals depleted and rebalance the chaos created during the average day,” she said, adding children and teens need even more.
So, tonight I’m going to try to go to bed a little earlier and hopefully, soon, it will become routine.
Peaceful sleep everybody.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 1.18.13