Y’all I am so tired. I haven’t been sleeping well at all. Insomnia has been kicking my butt.
I get it. People are busy. Schedules are crazy. Too lists are a mile long. But are you really giving your best performance without adequate rest?
What is it?
Insomnia is basically when you have a hard time falling asleep OR staying asleep. Insomniacs (people with insomnia) usually experience fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating and mood swings.
Not all insomnia is created equal. There’s onset insomnia which is difficulty falling asleep and maintenance insomnia which is difficulty sleeping through the night. I have both. Aren’t I special?
Then you have acute insomnia lasting less than 3 months and chronic insomnia when it lasts 3 months or longer. Lastly, there’s comorbid insomnia which occurs with another condition (could be mental or physical).
As much as I’d love to add another con to my chronic illness list, my sleep troubles date back pre-MG. But I can say that they’ve progressively gotten worse since MG and my daily steroid regimen.
Link to Steroids and Insomnia
I talked about my love hate relationship with steroids a while ago. Prednisone is my best buddy when it comes to warding off a crisis or during a flare up. But on the flip side, there are a ton of unfriendly side effects including insomnia.
Have you ever heard of fight or flight? This is a real thing that occurs chemically in the body caused by your adrenal glands when in stressful situations. So too much stress leads to influx of hormones being released which keeps the body awake and the mind stimulated. Steroids serve a similar function to the adrenal glands. The more roids in your system, the less your adrenal glands have to work because the chemical is already there releasing those hormones that are keeping you awake and alert.
When I mentioned my lack of sleep to my doctor, he suggested taking my steroids first thing in the morning. I did and it didn’t help the situation at all. But maybe it will work for someone else.
How much sleep do you get?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, I should be getting 7-9 hours. On average I say I get about 4 hours a night if I’m lucky and that’s not even straight through. Looking at their recommendations I’m in quite a bit of sleep debt stemming from my teenage years. I doubt I’ll ever catch up.
Self Test for Insomnia
Here’s a few preliminary questions to ask yourself if you think you may have insomnia. Each yes answer is 1 pt.
- Does it take you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or do you wake up during the night and have trouble returning to sleep, or do you wake up earlier than desired?
- Do you have daytime symptoms such as fatigue, moodiness, sleepiness or reduced energy?
- Are you giving yourself enough time in bed to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night?
- Do you go to bed in a safe, dark and quiet environment that should allow you to sleep well?
What’d you get? I got 4 out of 4. If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you too may have insomnia. I’d advise you to talk to a doctor.
Fix it Please
So you have insomnia, what now? Well there are a few things you can explore.
Most sleep physicians will advise you to examine and improve your sleep hygiene habits. Is your night time routine conducive to getting good rest? Do you have a routine at all?
The next thing to look at is your cognitive behavior. It addresses the thoughts and behaviors that are preventing you from getting proper rest. This includes a relaxation and stress reduction techniques.
As a last resort, people turn to medications for insomnia. Sleeping pills do work for a time but as with most medication, your body adjusts and it may stop working over time.
All this time, I thought my grumpiness was roid rage due to steroid usage but maybe I’ve just been cranky because I need a nap. Before I can fix the problem, I gotta understand the issue. So I started tracking my sleep patterns with my sleep tracker but there are apps for that as well.
3 Free Apps to track insomnia
- Sleep Cycle Alarm
- Sleep Score
Sleepzy is a smart alarm clock with expanded sleep tracking and sleep aid features. It uses your sleep rhythms to figure out the perfect time to wake you up, tracks your sleep debt and allows you to set sleep goals. You can use Sleepzy with your Apple Watch or just use the phone itself.
Apps are cool but I’m a little old school. So I created another tracker for my planner. This time to track my sleep. Feel free to download a copy so you can track yours as well.
I’m going to use this tracker along and try out a few different combinations that I found for insomnia. Hopefully, I’ll be catching some hard Zs soon.
This month I’m dedicating my time to nipping this thing in the bud and re-establishing my relationship with Mr Sandman. I miss him and need him in my life. As always I’m going to update yall on my progress, things that are working (or not working), things that I love (or hate) and hopefully I’ll be sleeping like a newborn by spring.
If you have any suggestions or things that have worked for you in the past, let me know. I’m desperate to try just about anything. Keep in mind I prefer natural remedies.