It is 4:00 AM and I wake up to use the washroom…no big deal. So I crawl back into bed expecting to enjoy another few hours of peace and rest. 5:00 AM appears and I am still laying there…wide awake! Well I may as well get up and get a coffee. Man it is going to be a loooong damn day. I seem to often have 1 of 2 choices when it comes to sleep. I am still laying there at 3:00 AM because I cannot fall asleep or it is 5:00 AM and I am awake for the day. Well let me rephrase that…I am awake until mid morning when I could fall asleep sitting up. I am the only person at work that can work a back shift which is 7:30 PM till 7:30 AM and not have much difficulty.
Doing my research for my book there was not one specialist in the area of bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety disorders that did not agree. Sleep is vital in your routine of mental health. There is as much research on this fact than there are Tim Horton’s here in Canada (that is approx ever 2 miles in any direction). There are many scientific reason for the requirement of sleep. But the bottom line is our poor brains that run at 100/mph need time to rest and maybe even recharge. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning my brain feels like that battery charger was broken.
I was on sleeping pills and they just seemed to make me so groggy the next day. The last thing I need is something that is going to zap the little energy I have. And I can produce enough brain fog on my own without any assistance. So for me I doubled the dose of my anxiety med (never make any medication changes without first discussing it with your doctor!) which does not give me that feeling the next day. Sometimes this works…sometimes not. And it does not prevent me from waking up during the night. So I would be here on facebook at all hours and I am sure some people who have gotten emails from me have questioned my hours.
The main solution I have found is music. NOT Metallica! I have found very relaxing music. Soft piano or nature sounds. At first I would just listen to the music playing on my laptop and yes it was somewhat relaxing but not very effective for putting me to sleep. Just having music playing in the background still left my brain with loads of opportunity to run at full speed (if you remember that meditation I discussed in a previous post). What did it for me was headphones. It is very difficult to revisit every event of the day with running water filling your head. The volume has to be high enough so as to re-focus my brain but not so loud as to keep me awake. Many times this is a battle that my brain loses.
I am not providing you with any earth shattering news. There is a big difference in how you feel the next day when you have had a good restful sleep. It is almost like that semi rational side of my brain can function properly. Have a really bad night and hello bipolar day! I try to remember to take my headphones and music to bed with me so I don’t have that “get up” interruption. That just makes trying to sleep even worse. And in case any non-menopausal women are reading…just wait! The key I believe is finding something that does not cause stimulation. I will even play my Majong game which is the most monotonous game out there. No brain power is required but it does at least require my focus.
There are tons of strategies you can find that work for others. I suggest reading them and trying them. You never know you may find one that works for you. The worst thing I believe we can do is just ignore it and/or accept it. You may have to try a few things but it is well worth the effort. Getting good sleep can increase your chances of having a good day by at least 60%. It really can tip that scale. I am not going to use the word “important” in reference to sleep and mental health. I am going to use the word “vital.” If swinging upside down on the tree out back works for you…YAY you! Put some work into it. There are options if medication does not work as you would like it to. That poor brain has been on a power treadmill all day! Let it collapse onto the bed and say “thank god this day is over!”