June 22, 2011

Night Night

This isn't a post about PK's bedtime routine, though I should definitely do one of those soon. Especially in light of the new Go the F to Sleep book that just came out. The author definitely captured it spot on.

This is a post about my sleep. Or rather, my very restless sleep. You see, I suffer from night terrors. If you don't know what a night terror is, I suggest you check out this link. In a nutshell, a night terror is a sleep disorder which occurs just before REM sleep, usually shortly after going to sleep (between 30 min and 60 min later). The sleeper usually wakes up terrified, usually with a scream. They tend to see things that aren't there. Some of the extreme cases result in personal injury. I've read of cases of people throwing themselves out a window. The freaky part is that they're asleep the entire time. A sleeper's eyes may be open, but they are NOT awake. Most nights, I don't even know that I had a night terror. I only find out either because I wake up with my heart pounding and am extremely disoriented, or because the hubby tells me.

It's freaky because I'm totally not in control and am so afraid of hurting myself or the hubby. Most nights these days, I'm convinced that I've swallowed something (usually my engagement ring, which I keep in a box in my nightstand at night). Or that my contact lenses are still on. Sometimes I see animals in my sleep. And most episodes are accompanied by a blood-curdling scream, which fortunately I can't remember, but the hubby says is so bad that he's surprised that the cops haven't been called on us.

I've had night terrors for a good chunk of my life. I think I had them in high school (and maybe even earlier), but they got worse when I was in university, and they have not subsided. Some days, I have multiple episodes a night, for several nights in a row. Sometimes, they subside. I've noticed that for me, they are stress-related. I tend to stress very easily. Most days, I wake up with my heart pounding, and I don't even know what I'm stressing over. Or I'll stress over the smallest things. Like how will we be able to manage so many planned activities over the weekend? Or when will we be able to do groceries? Or when will I be able to get my workout in? Stupid stuff like that. And of course there are the real stressors, like parents fighting when I was younger, or worried about work or a relationship.

I actually noticed that the longest period in which I didn't have a night terror was when I was pregnant with PK. All of the yoga and relaxation exercises that I was doing really seemed to help calm my nerves enough to allow me to have a good night's sleep. I've also noticed that my incidence of night terrors goes down when I'm sick and have to take something like NyQuil to be able to sleep through the night without coughing/sneezing/stuffed nose. Obviously I don't take NyQuil any other time (and even limit it when I'm sick, because it makes me drowsy for a good 24 hours). The point is, sedatives and relaxation seem to help.

The problem is that I have trouble relaxing. I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that I suffer from anxiety and some form of depression. So I'm getting help. Because after nearly 8 years of marriage, the hubby is getting crappy sleep because of me, and understandably loses his patience when I wake up screaming and/or swearing at him in Portuguese (I find the latter funny, because I definitely don't think in Portuguese anymore). Plus PK seems to be more affected by my wake-ups. Naturally so...after all, if you heard blood-curdling screaming, it would scare the schizoo out of you too. Plus night terrors are genetic. So I need to keep an eye on PK. She can be a little high-strung like me too, at times.

And of course, I'm doing this to help myself. Because I don't want to hurt myself, or others around me. Plus I'm tired of walking around with a giant pickle up my ass, stressing over insignificant things. Or letting big stresses take over my life.

So today I saw my doctor and got myself a requisition for a sleep study. I'm going this weekend, on Sunday night. I get to sleep overnight at a clinic and be hooked up to electrodes. And afterwards, I get a consultation with a sleep specialist. And hopefully they can figure out what's wrong with me and prescribe some sort of treatment. I'm excited. I really need this. And my family needs this too. For their sanity and mine.

1 comment:

Fawn said...

Wow, that is HUGE. I'm so glad you're taking this step, Indy. It seems like it could be pretty circular, right? Like there are things in your life that cause stress, which causes the night terrors to worsen, and not getting a good night's sleep leaves you less able to deal with the stress, escalating your stress levels. Good luck on the sleep study. I really hope you'll be able to find some relief soon.