Sleep for the Sleepless

Sleeping shouldn’t be hard. In this age of bed technology and scented oils, sleep should come easier and be more restful than ever. Seeing commercials from C-PAP machines to sleep aids to pure cotton, hand spun bed sheets, we are constantly being shown how much we should be getting rest and sleeping. With someone with a chronic illness, it is completely different.

As someone who struggles with getting rest at night, it can be difficult to describe how hard it is to sleep well. I like to compare it to someone who went to the beach for a day, stayed in the sun, played in the water and sand, stayed up late drinking a bit but than being woken up at 7 am with only a few hours of sleep, none of it restful and having to work a normal day tired, worn thin, and in a fog of almost being hungover. Now add in the aches and pains of swimming and playing too hard, and the medicine you are taking isn’t working but making you feel sick to your stomach. You go back and forth with hot flashes and cold shivers like you have menopause and a sunburn all in one. Then at the end of the day, after you managed to get as much done as you feel well enough to do, you drag yourself to that luscious bed that should feel like a cloud that came down from heaven and you lay down to sleep the sleep of the dead.

Except it doesn’t help.

Instead you wake up the next day even worse. It feels like when you have the flu and the aches and pains of having that illness still lingers and holds you down. You tossed and turned trying to sleep but you are still having hot flashes like a rushed fever only to throw off the blanket and realize its ice cold in the room. You experience this every single day. For a week. For a month. For a year. Maybe the rest of your life. No rest, or break. The most you feel is on your best days, you almost feel like you haven’t been run over by a car. You only got grazed and you have a few bumps and bruises instead. That is the best you can hope for in your life now.

I was speaking to a dear friend of mine this week and we were talking about rest. She said, “…some of the health people I have been following have said that we need to stop pushing through and just rest but when you have needs and you have people depending on you you don’t have that luxury. So it’s harder to heal.” My only response was, ” I think that people do not realize the luxury it is to do things, anything. And resting doesn’t help when you never get rest. It’s the same advise of “you’re depressed? Just stop being depressed and doing something happy.” Her gentle response back was “You understand.”

Telling someone with a chronic illness to take it easy or to just to take an extra break won’t help that person. Just taking a sick day to “get better” won’t change our lifestyle. People fail to see the chronic part of a chronic illness. We don’t just get rest. We can’t just get better.

We can’t just sleep.

#hugaplushie my friends.

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Pain invades my sleep.

It has been a bad couple of weeks. Pain has been a constant reminder of my condition. An aggravating and hard reminder. One that reminds me that, yes, I am sick. A reminder I wish I could forget.

Waking up in pain makes me never forget. You lay in bed feeling like a major test in school is waiting for you, that you just worked out so hard your body is screaming, and if you even tried to roll out of bed and hit the floor, you would not feel it as your are at your pain level cap. I hurry to get pills in me and have them start working as soon as possible. A baby waits to be taken care of and I am responsible for this 7 month old bundle of joy and energy. I have to get going as soon as she wakes up.

Coffee is my nectar of the gods very morning.

Pain is also available in the evening, free of charge. I hurt in the hours leading up to the time when I can lay down to not sleeping. My body does not relax and is tight from being in pain all day. Insomnia sets in for a few hours. I used to be able to fall asleep in under a minute. I trained myself in college to fall asleep fast as I had 3 noisy roommates. Those days are gone now.

And now pain invades my dreams.

I had a dream last night. Dreams are a rare occurrence. Most nights I can’t fall into REM sleep. This night I was given a very strange view of my life. In this dream, I was hooked to a morphine pump for my pain and told to press the button as often as I needed it. As soon as I felt the pain, I would hit the button. Every 5 minutes I would press it. Over and over again. The pain never left me. It was dulled for about 30 seconds. Then it came back. For what seemed like hours I tried to fight off this pain. It never went away.

I woke to my usual pain and I grew afraid. Was this my life? Was this my fate and destiny to be chained to drugs? This is what drives people to depression. This is what causes anxiety. To be under constant bombardment and never getting a moments peace.

On common theme I see in my fellow pain warriors is when we do get a low pain day, we over-do it. We push ourselves and celebrate. We try so hard to live a normal life, even for a day. To get that day of relief is a blessing. It keeps us sane for when the next comes crashing down. It keeps us going.

I fully understand my need for help. I understand my need for medicine and how it helps me. I know some days, most days I would not be able to get out of bed without this help. This blessing and curse.

And my constant pain reminder that follows me.

#hugapony my friends

Self care day 21:Bedhead

I take sleep seriously. It has been one of the most frustrating things my health has bothered and I taken great offense to my illness in robbing me of this precious gift. Even when I find time to sleep, my body does not allow me to drift into that peaceful slumber but instead keeps me in the semi-dreamlike state of frustration.

Sleep is almost as good as coffee to me*

I wrote a post earlier about changing out your pillows and I feel this can also be applied to your bed sheets as well. Again, I ask the question of how old are they? Have you used them since a Clinton was president? Do they still have a cartoon character on them (guilty over here)?

This is a time to find better ones. I would call on everyone to find and get the best bed sheets they can. Humans spend approximately 30% of their lives sleeping. Why would you want to skimp on getting the best sleep you can afford?

This is sleep people, enjoy it!

Find out all you can on bed sheets. Find out which ones the high end hotels use or go to the expensive department stores and ask the salesman. Set aside money to get the best quality ones you have with the right design, feel, everything about them. We spend so much time, why not make that time better but getting the proper sheets for you.

And think about how every time you go to sleep how nice they feel. You can look at them and smile and think to yourself that you are going to be using those wonderful, cloudlike, blankets of glory soon. This is your life.

Make it more enjoyable.

I am making myself sleepy.

#hugapony my friends

It is always a pleasure bring you more day to day posts. I will continue to do so until the end of February. Please make sure to comment, share and follow along as I share some simple things to better your life!

*I know that coffee and caffeine will effect my sleep but I have changed my times at which I drink coffee and make a habit out of not drinking it too late. I have also cut down on my intake to ensure better sleep for me.

Self care day 17:Pillow talk

Oh sleep. How I love you so. Let me count the ways. It is most unfortunate that we have not had a good relationship these last few years. My body has gotten in the way and I wish to rekindle our love for each other.

OK, melodrama aside, it can be quite difficult to fall asleep for some of us. We can factor in so many things such as working to late, coffee, or just being not tired.

Can a pillow be the answer?

I believe it can.

Go grab your pillow. How old is it? Have you used it for years? Is it providing what you need at night? Have you tried to wash it and it just doesn’t have the floof in it anymore?

Why not buy a new one?

Pillows are an item we count on and use every day but we do not seem to replace very often. We use them for years, add a new one to the mix when one gets too flat, and eventually they seem to disintegrate into thin air. Honestly ask yourself when the last time you looked to replace your pillow?

I hold myself in the category of almost never.

I remember growing up, I asked for one of the buckwheat husk pillows for Christmas. I had heard about them on TV and wanted one. I lived in Florida at the time and one of the benefits I had heard about was that buckwheat husks stayed cool while you sleep, providing a cooler night sleep. Living in the subtropics were nights were in the 90’s made this seem like a dream come true.

So, I asked for a pillow for Christmas.

Yes I was “that kid”.

I remember sleeping on it for quite a few years. I vaguely remember me having to get rid of it due to a hole. Since then, I have not thought about it until this blog post almost 10 years later.

Why do we miss the little things that can make our lives better?

If all it takes to get a better night sleep was a pillow, would you do it?

Would you take care of yourself, just a little bit?

#hugapony my friends.

It is always a pleasure bring you more day to day posts. I will continue to do so until the end of February. Please make sure to comment, share and follow along as I share some simple things to better your life!