When Sleep Isn’t Restful

I have a problem. Okay, I know you do, too. And I hope yours is less of a nuisance.

Nuisance? Mine has gotten to be more than just a nuisance the past year or two. Makes me feel like maybe I am “aging gracelessly.”

Here’s the backstory…

My wife and I normally start heading for bed around 9:00 p.m. She reads for a while, and I close out my day by praying. So I fall asleep quite restfully.

At least I used to. But I have a mystery pain–after a surgical procedure we hoped would alleviate it, my doctor hopes it’ll still go away if I live long enough–that requires me to find the perfect way to lie down in order to be comfortable. I may start out on my back, my front, or my right side. My left side is usually–but not always–a bad choice. But then I often need to make a few small adjustments. Suffice it to say that one night’s perfect position may be exactly the wrong one the next night.

Once I get into position, however, I’m able to pray myself to sleep.

I normally need to get up at least a couple of times during the night. Hey, I’m a sixty-nine-year-old man. Enough said about that. Most of the time I don’t have much trouble getting back to sleep, although I do need to find a new most-comfortable position if I’m awake enough.

I take a very mild prescription medicine to help me sleep better. Although it’s supposed to be taken at bedtime, it’s more effective if taken after midnight. Otherwise, the effects don’t last long enough. It doesn’t make me groggy, thank goodness. It simply helps to keep my mind from fretting about ridiculous things I wouldn’t even think about if  fully awake.

On weekdays we get up at 6:30. We get up whenever we want to on Saturdays and at 7:30 on Sundays. So I spend a minimum of nine hours in bed, most of them asleep. I do tend to dream a lot, though.

So what’s the problem? Uh, did you read the title of this blog post? Oh, but of course you did.

Very rarely do I feel well rested. And it’s even worse if I attend a church function or do anything away from home the night before, even though I still get to bed well before 10:00. I feel even more wiped out the next day than usual.

What about sleep apnea, some of you ask? Excellent question.

I USED to have sleep apnea, which resulted not only in fatigue, but also caused me to snore intolerably, not to mention making me periodically stop breathing for a number of seconds, which always made my poor wife worry about whether I was ever going to start again.

So I had a sleep study done and ended up using a CPAP machine for several years. But I had to sleep on my back because of the type of mask I wore. Having to go to sleep on my back occasionally to accommodate my mystery pain isn’t bad, but having to sleep that way all the time back then got to be too much. So I used the CPAP less and less, and it currently resides in its travel case under the bed.

After intentionally losing fifty pounds, my apnea symptoms disappeared. My wife says I seldom snore anymore, and I never have any of those non-breathing spells. The only sleep apnea symptom that remains is the next-morning fatigue after an otherwise restful night’s sleep–not counting those irritating dreams, of course.

I keep telling myself to go to the doctor and see what he suggests, but that would take too much energy. And what if it’s something serious? Do I really want to know?

Hmm. Better to know for sure that something’s bad than to fret about it, huh?

Okay. I’ll go see the doctor. One of these days. In the meantime, I promise I’ll try to quit complaining. To my readers, anyhow.

What do you think? Any doctors in the house–arm chair type or medically trained? Or anyone experiencing similar problems? How about leaving a comment?

 

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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A Tribute to Afternoon Naps

napping     animalsEating     cpapRoger

For almost as long as I can remember, sleep has been an issue for me.

At one point in my life I tended to fall asleep far too easily at all the wrong times. During a meeting at work. While talking to a friend. During a sermon. I used to claim I’d fall asleep during a Billy Graham sermon when he was at his prime.

But at least I never fell asleep while driving.

There were advantages, however. I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep at night, and I almost fell asleep while my lady dentist of that time was working in my mouth. A real advantage when having a root canal.

I don’t know why I never talked to the doctor about my problem. Instead, I continued putting up with it until he prescribed something for a different problem, and my falling-asleep-at-the-wrong-time problem seemed to magically disappear. Even though I no longer take that particular medicine, I haven’t hadn’t any relapses into wrong-time sleepiness.

But a new problem surfaced over the years. Sleep apnea. Not only was I snoring loudly enough to raise the roof, I would actually stop breathing occasionally for seconds at a time. Not surprisingly, that concerned my wife. A LOT!

So I started sleeping with a mask connected to a CPAP machine. It worked great until I finally got tired of having to sleep only in certain positions. Otherwise the mask leaked air, which not only lessened its usefulness, but made noise I my wife and I could both live without. It wasn’t as effective as it had been before, anyhow. So I put it back in its case and stuck it under the bed.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, my doctor told me to lose weight rather than count carbs, and the interesting thing is my sleep apnea disappeared as I grew smaller. I still snore occasionally, but not nearly as objectionably, and my wife says I no longer quit breathing while I’m asleep.

Somewhere along the way, however, I started waking up in the middle of the night and frequently fretting irrationally about things I wouldn’t even be concerned about when I was awake. So the doctor prescribed amitriptyline.  Although the directions say to take it at bedtime, I’ve found the effects last better if I wait till I have to get up during the night–normally sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m. Since it doesn’t actually make me sleepy, I can take it as close to time to get up as I want to.

Flash forward to the present. We normally head for bed around 9:00 p.m., and I pray myself to sleep. But the cat jumps on the bed around 5:00 a.m. and starts meowing more loudly than I’ve ever heard any other cat meow. Sure, fella. I know you had supper at 4:15, but can’t you let us sleep till 6:30, please?

He may or may not settle down until one of us gets up and feeds him. And if we’re feeding him, we have to feed the miniature dachshund, too. Then whoever got up to do the feeding comes back to bed and everyone tries getting back to sleep. Even if he or she succeeds, that break in our sleep leaves us less than satisfactorily rested.  Especially me.

So it’s the rare day that I don’t grab a nap soon after lunch. All I need is half an hour. Occasionally forty-five minutes. Then I’m all set to finish the rest of the day. Long live afternoon naps!

Do you have any trouble sleeping? What’s helped you? How about leaving a comment and sharing your answers with the rest of us…

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on my other blog, “As I Come Singing“; go here to check it out. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of songs. You can find the list here.

Best regards,
Roger