Good Night

Posted on: 31 July, 08

Today was my final consultation for the sleep study.  The good news is they did not find anything big and scary that is causing my insomnia.  The bad news is there is no magic pill to fix it either. 

The gist of the study was to test diagnostic methods for insomnia.  Doctors from four different disciplines looked at my data and met with me individually.  The study assessed how closely the diagnoses matched from the four different disciplines.  Would the cardiologist lean towards heart issues while the pulmonologist thought it was apnea? 

The general consensus was that I am well adjusted, relatively healthy person who needs much less sleep than average.  So why am I tired all of the time?  I am trying to hard to sleep.  I am trying to stay in bed too long which is leading to a very poor quality sleep.  They suggested that I go to bed later and get up earlier.  By spending less time “trying to fall asleep,” I should get better quality sleep. 

Insomnia can snowball.  You don’t sleep well.  The next night, you worry about not sleeping well.  It is no big surprise when you don’t sleep well.  It can very hard to break the cycle.

As you age and life situations change, your sleep needs change.  As my needs changed, I thought I still needed to get in the mandated eight hours.  When I woke up tired, I went to bed earlier the next night.  On the weekends, I tried to sleep in to catch up. 

The doctors recommended that I stay up later and get up earlier.  The hope is my body will learn to make better use of the time I spend in bed with a deeper, more restful sleep.  They stressed the importance of consistent bedtimes and wake up times.  Shifting your bedtime as little as two hours can be like flying across two time zones.  Even minor jet lag takes a toll on the body’s natural rhythms. 

“Sleep hygiene” was also reviewed.  It was the usual stuff like limit caffeine after lunch, nothing stressful two hours before bed, don’t do work in bed, etc.  The doctor reluctantly agreed that a bit of light reading in bed can be calming for some people.  If you can’t sleep, get up and do something quiet in another room.  If you are in bed, you should be asleep.  Just laying there only makes it harder to get back to sleep. 

The psychologist happened to be a quilter.  She had a couple of gorgeous quilts in her office.  She said a little sewing late in the evening could be a great way for me wind down.  A doctor actually prescribed sewing!! 

The neurologist was not pleased with my propensity for multitasking.  He noted that as I waited for my appointment, I brought several things to work on.  He asked how often do I just sit still.  Umm, never?  How often do I totally focus on one thing?  Again, that would be never.  He said I need to learn that sleep should not be viewed as a waste of time.  I need to let go of the idea that I must be doing something every minute of the day, always checking something off the to do list.  Creative people who are also high achievers often have poor sleep. 

Overall, it was an interesting experience. I am glad to know there is not some major medical issue lurking behind this.  It is reassuring to know that it is not the chatter of little voices in my head keeping me awake.  In a way, I am relieved that medication was not recommended.  I am not a pill popper. 

I am glad to get this information during summer break.  I can play around with my bedtime and see how it affects my sleep.  The hard part will be forcing myself to get up at the same time every morning, even if I did not sleep well the night before. 


4 Responses to "Good Night"

Teri…so glad there is nothing “organically” wrong, and hope you are sleeping soundly soon. Perhaps we can IM when we’re both awake at 3 am….? LOL!
…hopefully not many more of those nights ahead for either of us!


Kudos to the dr who prescribed sewing and a frowny face to the neurologist who frowned on multi-tasking! Did any of the specialists have anything to say about naps during the day? I am a firm believer in the “bed is for sleep” theory. Good luck with playing with your bedtime. 2 more weeks and I have to start “adjusting” DS’s bedtime and waketime to get in school mode!

Reply to Sue: The doctor recommended avoiding naps during the day, especially late in the afternoon. He said naps should definitely be short, 20-30 minutes. No two hour afternoon naps.

We need to start adjusting the bedtime too. I had to drag J out of bed this morning at 9 o’clock so he could go to his volunteer work. I will let them have this weekend to stay up late, but starting Monday, it is back to a regular schedule….for all of us. eek!


I has recently experienced the “no rest” rest. We finally broke and spent WAYYYY too much money on a mattress, but it is very effective. I used to ALWAYS take something to put me to sleep but now I can just lay down for a few (less than 5) min and fall asleep. I’ve been chastised for not taking time to do just “nothing” but it’s related to my experiences during childhood. Some people don’t get it. Even when waiting in the car rider line at school to get my kiddos, I’ve got windex wipes to clean the window, car wipes, something to sew, a suduko puzzle book, a magazine and reference material pertaining to my job. -s

Reply to Susan: You mean some people just *sit* in the carpool line at school?!?! 🙂 Actually, we have quiet a few people who nap in the carpool line. They say it is the only quiet time in their day. When we did carpool, I *always* had a supply of things to do. I kept trying to figure out a way to bring my sewing machine. Just sitting there made me a little twitchy.

I have poor sleep as well so I totally relate. Even with 10 hours I am tired. I suspect my vivid dreams are related–I never feel like got any *rest* because my mind never stops even when I’m asleep. I see ads in the paper for medical studies on non-restorative sleep, but it’s to test a medication and I don’t really have an interest in taking a medication (which I suspect is probably just a sleep aid–luckily I don’t have much trouble falling asleep anymore). I hope you can find a solution!

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