Insomnia Issues; Ugh!

The last couple of weeks have been a nightmare. I’m not sleeping much, and that’s not good long term. The last great night of sleep I got was when I went to bed on Saturday the 7th at 1:30AM and woke around 11AM. And it felt good. Since then I’ve slept little, including this past Saturday when I stayed in bed 9 hours but probably slept 5, and Monday night when I stayed in bed 9 hours and once again might have gotten 5 hours, and that was after not sleeping for more than 36 hours, which isn’t close to a record, but at my age is something I can’t afford to do as often as when I was younger.

I’m not angry; I was just
trying to keep my eyes open
for the picture lol

What could the issue be? I have absolutely no idea. When I started using the CPAP again (I actually have a BiPAP but it’s so much easier typing CPAP lol) I thought it would mean that I’d be getting better sleep than in the past.

Well, in actuality that’s partially happened. It seems that I’m kind of a violent sleeper, but the CPAP helps me start breathing sooner than before I got it. However, during the night it measures my breathing, pushing air harder when I stop and it doesn’t seem to go back down once it’s ramped up. At least it’s never down when I eventually wake up, which is usually when I still have time to sleep because I have to figure out how to adjust my breathing. If I turn it off & start over I can’t breathe because I’m breathing harder than the machine is ready for so I have to catch up to the machine and hope I don’t wake myself up before I get there.

So I do wake up feeling better physically, but not necessarily mentally all the time because I’m still not sleeping enough. A CPAP will affect the quality, not the quantity of sleep. And that’s the major issue here, as I had that CPAP on the entire time I tried to sleep when I didn’t fall asleep, which means at least I was breathing well, and I actually felt pretty good at work because of that.

But this post isn’t about CPAP or BiPAP issues; it’s about sleep, the act of trying to get to sleep and staying asleep and what works or doesn’t work well. I can’t say that anything has ever put me to sleep but some things have helped me sleep longer here and there, but I’ve rarely awakened feeling all that good. That’s what I’m sharing in this post. Maybe you’ve tried some of these and maybe you have something to offer instead, but this is one of those “diversion” posts from blogging or social media; after all, this blog is called I’m Just Sharing after all. 🙂

Let’s start with Zzzquil, the alcohol-free brother of Nyquil. Nyquil is good to help you get to sleep when you’re sick but it’s not the thing you should take when you’re not sick, and hasn’t worked on me when I tried it anyway. Zzzquil is supposed to put you to sleep but that’s it. Well, it doesn’t work; at least on me. Turns out its main ingredient is diphenhydramine. Ever heard of Benadryl? What is it; diphenhydramine! Basically, it’s a cold medicine with a side effect for some people of drowsiness. If you’re someone who seems to be prone to side effects then this will probably work for you; not me however.

Next, melatonin. It’s not really supposed to put you to sleep, but you may possibly feel drowsy after taking it. This is problematic if you don’t have a lot of hours to sleep because, it turns out, the safest recommended dosage is 1mg and most of the bottles you find come in 5mg doses, and the warning is that it might make you feel groggy after waking up. That part is true; unless I have 9 hours to kill trying to sleep, which is rare, I can’t take this stuff, which doesn’t put me to sleep anyway.

Next, someone recommended magnesium. I could easily rule that one out because I’ve taken that in combination with potassium for years. Since I still have sleeping issues, that’s a non-starter.

Next, hot tea. Most people recommend chamomile, green tea, or other “clear teas” that have no taste; yeah, I said that! What’s the main thing about them? That don’t have any caffeine in them, that’s what. The idea of hot tea is that it’s supposed to be calming having that warm feeling running through your body and relaxing you. Some say the same thing about warm milk, although I see fewer people recommending that these days. I’ve given that a try but I’m the type where, if I don’t like the taste, I’m not really going to do it more than once if it doesn’t work; and it didn’t. I even tried something my wife recommended called Sleepytime; nope, nada.

Me_Shaniece01
This baby would sleep only as
long as I held her; I’m not asleep

Some have recommended getting a boring book to read because it’ll dull your mind and bore you enough to sleep. You know, once I left school that trick never worked on me, and I realized books were boring because teachers were boring and you were trying hard to remember stuff you couldn’t learn from your teachers. There are books I’ve tried to read that I didn’t like because they were confusing (Tale Of Two Cities; I wish I could slap Dickens for that one) but boring? I’ve read books on ethics, history, religion, multiple sciences, leadership, making money, personal growth, Harry Potter… and loved them all!

Some people can fall asleep to music; I can’t. There have been times where I’ve had to use music to calm me down some because, for whatever reason, often when I go to bed my heart starts beating hard and my mind starts thinking of all sorts of things and I hear this weird beat in my head that doesn’t match up to any songs I’ve ever heard in my life; weird!

When it gets too bad I pop on some music, classical, and I select the “calm” movements of my favorite pieces like the 2nd movements of many piano concertos, or the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. Words… anything with words and my mind either sings along with them or tries to figure them out. Did you ever know the song was called Judy in Disguise instead of Judy in the Sky, and that the guy who wrote it was inspired by the Beatles Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, another song that makes no sense? lol

I sound like a mess don’t I? But I know I’m not the only one with these issues. What’s left? Some people suggest turning off any stimulus an hour before you go to bed. What are you supposed to do for an hour before going to bed if you do that? Some people say meditation. I tried that but instead of peace I start thinking about people I wish I could get back for some imagined or real indiscretions against me in the past, get riled up, and sleep isn’t happening at that point.

You know, those times when you wish you’d said that magnificent thing as a retort to something someone else said and now you’ve figured out what the proper response should have been, and you start wondering if you could find that person and say it now, only to realize that even if you could find them and say it they’d stare at you because it probably means nothing to them now?

Or those people who wronged you that you wish you could find, take them out in the woods, tie them to a tree, then shoot them in each of their arms and legs with a crossbow until they fully understand that they shouldn’t have messed with you and lied about you and tried to damage your life, even if you’ve accomplished some pretty nice things that you could throw in their faces but the crossbow would feel so good? You’ve never had that feeling? Never mind! lol Anyway, meditation is supposed to bring you peace; I know I’m doing it wrong.

I have found only one thing that really works, and it’s something I can’t really do on the road. That one thing is… stay up as late as I possibly can, exhausting myself until I can’t think anymore, and then going to bed. That’s it! When I’m working from home I often stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, and I’m on social media or writing and people see me and are amazed that it’s actually me talking to them live. Works well talking to people on the West Coast or in other countries. But when I’m on a work project… nope, just can’t do that when you have to be somewhere at a certain time and put in a full day’s work. I do that when I have meetings when I’m at home because I know I can come back home and go back to bed if necessary, but I can’t do it now.

So, I’ll be back home at midnight on Friday, and I don’t have to be at the bank until 11:30AM to pay mortgage, which means I can stay up until 4AM if need be, since I’ll probably only sleep 6 or 7 hours, and even though I won’t be perfect it’ll probably be the best I’ve felt in 3 weeks. It’s not something I recommend for everyone unless you can do it, though my friend Mitchell Allen is living my dream of sleeping when he wants to for a few hours, working, then sleeping again; sigh…


Creative Commons License Carlos Huerta via Compfight

I’m not saying my way is best for anyone; it might not be best for me. But all those other things I mentioned… well, other than the CPAP (or BiPAP) to help you sleep better if you have apnea, I’m not the one to recommend any medication to help you sleep. I will add this though; sometimes I will take either an ibuprofen PM or acetaminophen PM to try to overcome some leg pain I might be having, and I think that might help me sleep better because it dulls the pain, but that’s it.

Whew, this was long, but I hope it wasn’t rambling and I hope it was somewhat entertaining. If I haven’t mentioned it here, what types of things do you find helps you to sleep? By the way, I don’t drink alcohol, never have, so if that’s your recommendation it’s one I won’t be trying. Go on, share! 🙂
 

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CPAP Followup

Back in August I wrote that I was getting ready to start using a CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. In general, it’s a machine that helps people sleep better so that they’re less tired. Or at least that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’m going to tell you the real deal and give you an update on what’s going on with me.


by Robert
Anthony Provost

I guess the most important thing for you to know is that I’m still using it. This must mean that something good is happening for me. Here’s the truth. I still feel tired at some point throughout the day, and still have those times when I just have to take a nap. Sometimes it’s within a couple of hours after waking up, even before I’ve eaten something, which tells me it’s not related to eating the wrong thing, although it’s still possible that it’s related to diabetes.

But here’s a truth. When I sleep with the CPAP, I wake up actually feeling better than I do if I don’t wear it. The proof once again came to me two weeks ago, when I was out of town for a couple of days on a consulting assignment. I decided to leave the CPAP at home, worried that I might not hear the alarm going off each morning. I won’t be making that mistake again.

The CPAP actually helps me sleep better during the night. What I think it does is keeps me from shaking or moving as much because I stop breathing. Not that I don’t move or even wake up, because that still happens. However, I wake up and I’m breathing, and fairly deep as well. And I’m not always in the same place I was when I fell asleep, which can sometimes be scary (my wife and I don’t keep the same hours; I think that pleases her some lol).

So I wake up and have energy. Often it’s enough energy that I can head to the gym without being tired and I’m alert. It’s a pretty good feeling, one I’ve not had in my life. However, it doesn’t always last a long time. As I said, sometimes within a couple of hours I feel like I need another nap, and often it’s before I’ve eaten anything, since I rarely eat within the first hour I’m up. If that’s the case then I’ll set myself up to take a nap, but I’ve learned to take naps with the CPAP as well. I think it must be a breathing thing because every once in awhile I just need the mask on for maybe 10 minutes and I’m fine. Other times I do fall asleep, but when I awaken I feel pretty good.

Now, there are some other issues as well. I didn’t talk about it last time but I had this issue for the longest time with air blowing in my eyes. I tried 4 different masks until I settled on the one I have now, which blew the least amount of air into my eyes. Then my wife got me a sleep mask, and that’s taken care of that problem. Yes, it’s weird waking up all the time in darkness until I take the mask off, but that’s easy to get used to.

Another issue is how one breathes. I have what’s called a full face mask, which means it covers both my mouth and nose, so I can breathe either way. However, if you breathe too much through your mouth your throat can get really dry.

My CPAP has a humidifier, and the settings on the humidifier can be interesting to figure out, especially if you can’t stop breathing through your mouth too much. Too much humidity and you’re coughing a lot. Too little and you might as well not even be using the humidifier. And then there’s the temperature in the room. If it’s hot, it negatively affects using the humidifier, no matter what it’s on. The humidifier actually heats up the air you’re breathing, so if it’s cool you breathe the best, but the rest of you might not be too happy.

And of course there’s the noise. Initially you hear almost nothing, which works okay because I run a fan to help me get to sleep anyway. Later, once the pressure gets to maximum, you have to hear noise because the machine is making sure there’s no build up of carbon dioxide; wouldn’t pay to have the machine kill you when it’s purpose is to help you live longer. If you’re breathing properly the noise is minimal; if not, it’s much louder, and if you don’t like the sound you’ll go nuts. I like the sound so I always fall back to sleep like a baby.

The two major signs of sleep apnea, which the CPAP addresses, are that you always wake up tired, or you snore really loudly when you sleep. I was the first one, although my wife said I had times when I did snore loudly; that is, if I slept at all. If you have either of those on a consistent basis, go see someone for it and at least get tested. So many people said they couldn’t imagine wearing a mask while trying to sleep. Well I said the same thing about that as I did about injecting myself. You’ll try whatever you can to feel better.

Yes, I’ve gotten used to it; and I’m never going back from it again.

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CPAP Adventures

I have a CPAP machine next to my bed now. I first mentioned it when I was talking about disasters a few days ago, and then I mentioned it again yesterday when talking about getting healthy.

What is a CPAP? First, it’s that little thing there to the right. I had a CPAP machine 4 years ago, almost to the day when I gave it up, and it was much larger than this thing you see. It was also much heavier; this thing weight almost nothing. And what you’re seeing is the heaviest part of the thing, because it comes with a small tank that holds water to help keep your nose and mouth moist when you’re using it while you’re sleeping.

Okay, more details first. CPAP stands for “continuous positive air pressure”, and basically the machine helps you breathe at night. Sleep apnea means you pretty much stop breathing during the night. It’s a little different from just snoring because when you stop breathing, your body starts to struggle a little bit to get you breathing again. It often starts before you get into the deepest sleep, and what this means is that you kind of wake up many times during the night. I say “kind of” because you probably don’t remember it most of the time. You might snore if you have sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has it. And it can be life threatening; professional football player and Hall of Famer Reggie White passed away from it; that’s what initially got me thinking about it.

As I said, I had a machine back from near the end of 2005 into July or August of 2006. I kept having problems getting used to the different masks, it was heavy and getting on my nerves traveling with it, and frankly I didn’t feel all that much better after such a long time. The biggest problems I had then were the masks. The first mask I had must have leaked somehow, and it caused massive scarring on my face; couldn’t have that. The second mask kept blowing air into my eyes, and waking up every morning with at least one red eye certainly wasn’t pleasant. The final thing I went to was a nasal cannula type of mask, which you’d think would be nice and easy, but I kept having panic attacks, and thus wouldn’t sleep at all. It reminded me too much of sick people in the hospital; that just wouldn’t do at all. That’s the reason I gave it back.

Unfortunately for y’all, unless I knew you back in 2005 and 2006 you missed the entire story of the sleep test, then the subsequent dumping of the machine, as it went out through email. I can tell you that when I went back to the doctor this year, he had me take another overnight sleep test, and this time it went much smoother. Not as many wires, none wrapped around my neck, and the initial mask the guy put on me was fairly light. I obviously had some issues overnight, as the guy woke me up 5 times, but otherwise I made it through the night unscathed.

This is the mask I have now. It’s much different than previous masks because it covers my mouth and has the two things at the top that go into my nose. They never used to have masks that covered the mouth, and that was a major issue in the past because you’re supposed to keep your mouth closed, and if you don’t your throat can take a beating, and if you’re like me you’re still waking up all the time. They have this strap you can put around the top of your head and under your jaw, but trust me, not many people enjoy that at all. Now, if I open my mouth, the machine will still blow air into me.

Oh yeah, the air. What happens is you get tested to see if you have apnea. Then the doctor looks at all the results and estimates how much air pressure the machine should be blowing into you. If I knew what the pressure part meant I don’t think I could explain it, so I’ll just say that the higher the number, the higher the pressure. The machine starts low, which gives you a chance to get to sleep before it gets to its highest level, which is preset by the people you get the machine from. Get this; you can buy the machine (they’re not cheap), but by law, at least in the U.S., you can’t do anything with the pressure unless you get a prescription. That’s changed, because you used to be able to alter pressure but you weren’t allowed to buy the machines; I wish people would make up their mind. I don’t have to worry about it; seems it’s all covered 100% by insurance. 🙂

Anyway, so far I don’t feel much different. It affects people differently, it seems. Some start feeling great within a week, others it takes 90 days. Since I don’t have air blowing in my eyes anymore, I hope within a month that I can report I’m feeling better. I guess we’ll see. If you have any questions or comments, just talk.

SleePAP CPAP Pillow with Pillowcase

SleePAP CPAP Pillow with Pillowcase






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