Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome with Added Value Alertness

I know, i know have been quite remiss with this whole blog thingie, but believe me that is not the only thing i have been remiss with (but perhaps we will get into that later…)
So i had an appointment with a neurological sleep specialist upon referral from my neurological headache specialist (as my insomnia seems somewhat unresponsive to many forms of medication and my sleep patterns continue to be erratic to say the very least). He decided (and his diagnosis made perfect sense to me) that i have something called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which basically means that my circadian rhythm is a bit off (or in other words i’m a night owl~something i’ve been aware of since i’ve been aware of the term (and my mother has been aware of for much, much longer). He also doesn’t think i have any kind of symptoms of breathing problems (so for all those friends and relatives who have been telling me i have sleep apnea and that accounts for oh-so-much-wrong-with-me-and-my-life~nanny, nanny, nanny ;)~.
Apparently exposure to sunlight causes the release of certain proteins that help regulate wake cycles (we’re talking in addition to melatonin here) and recent research has shown (recent research i have been unable to find~by the by) that some of us release a great deal more of these proteins than others causing us to be unable to sleep at the “normal” hours. Many of us our misdiagnosed with insomnia, when actually, if we were just allowed to sleep when our bodies wanted to, say 3:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. we would be fine (see, i’m not really lazy, everyone else is just on the wrong schedule, well maybe that’s a stretch~the my-not-being-lazy part, that is…) In the past, they have mostly adjusted behaviour for these problems (usually making sleep times progressively later until it is where you want it to be) which hasn’t really solved the problem. The new treatment involves light therapy (similar to treatment for S.A.D.) which helps with the behavioural adjustment (also 80% of people who suffer from depression also have some kind of sleep disorder~similar to the coincidence of depression and migraines…hmmm...)
Also important is sleep hygiene: common sense things like keeping to a standard wake-up time on week days and weekends; eliminating caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol; avoiding napping; regular exercise (though not before bedtime); avoiding food or drink before bedtime; turn the alarm clock away from you; and the toughie for me~only using your bedroom for sleeping (which i’m not all that into as my bedroom is my retreat and i like to use it as such during the day). You also shouldn't watch the nightly news because that is meant to capture your attention. If you watch t.v. it shouldn't be anything with a beginning and end point (like a movie~because it is building to a conclusion). Same thing with reading~no novels (beginning and end), nothing you might have a personal interest in. So what is left? He mentioned encyclopedias. (i stayed mute about my interest in Those...) The dictionary (too much etymological interest there). Oh the curses of being a reference librarian (or the interests that drive you to be one...) Evolutionarily the whole night owl thing makes sense, i mean someone had to stay awake to guard the cave at night, right? So i’m a guardian. Kind of like a night warrior. Rampage on.
I haven’t yet gotten to the whole lightbox thing, i’m thinking, if i’m trying to simulate sunlight exposure, what about just sunlight exposure in and of itself? My other issue, apparently, is that i am inordinately alert to things going on in my environment so, even when i’m sleeping, i have a certain level of awareness (makes sense~being a Night Warrior/Guardian and all). After we get the light and schedule thing together, then perhaps we can move on to the sleeping drugs (though i already take lyrica {which is also supposed to help with my nerve pain~another migraine side effect} every night adding in a seroquel, or two, or three [i suppose i stop taking them when i pass out~the headache doc was a little unclear~she said until i could sleep...] if a migraine is not allowing sleep). The sleep doc says sleeping pills have not done anything in the past because of my wonderfully odd chemistry (and i suppose adding them in does something to kill my extra-special alertness (???)).
The other night, i came home exhausted from work and went to sleep about 11:30 p.m. (occasionally i can do this if i am extremely tired, although other times i can be too tired to do anything and not sleep~though i also took my lyrica~sometimes i forget and then it is too late) I then woke up about 2:00 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep until 8:30 a.m. (didn't have to work until noon that day). So now i'm not so convinced about the whole DSPS and maybe i'm not following any circadian rhythm at all, but my body just functions more like free form jazz (and that would make sense for MY body~although i did have some symptoms that defied categorization~quite normal for me~i have the quite usual experience of sitting in the examination room and having the doctor [or p.a. or n.p. or intern or whatever...] come back in shaking his head saying "I've never seen this before" and i'm thinking, "well i have"...)

No comments: